Written by Frank Kocher
Folk-rocker Colin Clyne is originally from Scotland and though he has relocated to Southern California, the roots of his music remain in the green highlands. His new CD is Doricana, a title that says a lot – the style of the music and the sound of the singer blend elements from both sides of the pond.
The 13 songs on the disc were recorded local producer/engineer Alan Sanderson, a veteran whose board talents help Clyne achieve the most from his material. The overall sound is primarily acoustic, with steady guitar support by James Hood throughout and judicious use of percussion, keys, and Dennis Caplinger’s banjo and fiddle touches. Clyne wrote all of the tunes, with help on one from Hood, and they are a mix of stories, observations, and love messages – sung to country/folk ballads in his strong Celtish accent.
“Pockets and Envelopes” has interesting lyrics, about how the “tramps on the streets well known as lords,” but there are stretches where it is difficult to decipher the words – printed lyrics would have helped. On “Traditional Song,” Clyne sings about his homeland, following strong acoustic guitar figures by Hood to chant the chorus.
The structure on these tunes is similar to many of the others on the disc; after he sings a couple of verses over subdued guitar licks, the simple, repeated chorus line comes, sometimes with a “na na na” or a “la la la” melody scat. Repeat, and after repeating the third chorus, end. One problem with songs with a similar beat, structure, and vocal sound is that it can become like a visit to the ice cream store, getting many different minor variations on the same flavor. Thanks to Clyne and the musicians, that flavor isn’t vanilla.
The single on this disc is “Into My Garden,” and it is a catchy treat. This tune is about how Clyne has opened up his life to a new love, with good imagery. The sound is fuller and more robust than other tracks on the disc, thanks to organ and full band, and the hammered-home chorus sticks with the listener. While Clyne generally avoids using any Doric dialect on the disc, he comes closest on “Crying at the Sky,” which has a Celtish folk vibe. “Dance with Her” is slower, a folk lament that delivers a simple, haunting melody, and amounts to a sleeper highlight. “Hey I Miss You Too” comes after some slower filler tracks with cello and keys, turning things around with banjo and cajon-pounding percussion, as a studio crowd claps along.
Doricana has its feet in two worlds. It is Americana roots music, pleasant folk with country underpinnings. Add Colin Clyne’s distinct taste of Scotland to the music and the combination is unusual and distinctive.