The Scotsman Sessions #42: Lavinia Blackwall

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, former Trembling Bells frontwoman Lavinia Blackwall performs Hold On To Your Love – a song from her new solo album Muggington Lane End.

There is an out-of-time quality to Lavinia Blackwall’s music. Her pure, true soprano, devoid of any of pop’s current vocal affectations, has been compared to Fairport Convention’s Sandy Denny, though it’s always tempting to see Blackwall at her piano in the image of Denny’s contemporary, Fleetwood Mac’s songwriting ace Christine McVie.

Blackwall channels some of McVie’s freewheeling hippie spirit on her newly released album Muggington Lane End, which marks her solo debut following ten years fronting Trembling Bells. This Glasgow-based psych prog folk outfit were one of the most singular bands to grace the Scottish scene, known for their collaborations with kindred musicians Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band, as well as their fearless sporting of capes.

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The classically trained singer left the group in 2018 and recorded Muggington Lane End in the Barne Studio, built and run by her producer partner Marco Rea at the foot of the Kilpatrick hills, near Clydebank. It is here that Blackwall has based herself throughout lockdown, where she continues to write and record with Rea around the demands of her day job as a primary school teacher. “Isolation hasn't really affected me much, we've been as busy as ever!” she says.

Lavinia Blackwall

Blackwall has chosen a track from Muggington Lane End for her Scotsman Session, performed in the comforting clutter of the studio under the watchful eye of a flamenco doll.

“Hold On To Your Love is a song about time slipping away quietly without you noticing,” she says, “then the slow realisation that nothing can be clawed back and it's just gone. It's about the memory of lives before and loved ones lost, but never forgotten, a reminder to hold those dear to you closely while you can. I chose the song because it seemed particularly relevant at this time, given the circumstances.”