The Scotsman Sessions #78: James Grant & Ursula Grant

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, Love and Money frontman James Grant performs Your Thorny Laugh at home in Glasgow, with his daughter Ursula on backing vocals and tech duties

James Grant was prepared for lockdown – he just didn’t know it. The frontman of much loved Glasgow band Love and Money had been conducting songwriting workshops for many years and about a year ago this developed into an offer of bespoke songwriting, with Grant either writing to commission or in collaboration with others to help them develop their ideas. Introducing the concept on his website, he wrote, rather presciently, that “it’s always preferable to meet but sometimes that’s just not possible.”

For his Scotsman Sessions performance, Grant has gone back to the start of the project and recorded a version of his first bespoke song Your Thorny Laugh at home in Glasgow, with daughter Ursula on backing vocals and tech duties.

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“I love this song,” says Grant. “It was written with Sandrine Certenais. Sandrine is in France so we just bounced stuff back and forth in emails.”

James and Ursula Grant performing Your Thorny Smile

“Now I’m on my 30th song,” he says. “It’s been a privilege to help people do this, to find a path to say what they want to say. People let you into their lives, let their guard down, let you see the love they have for one another. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Originally these songs were intended for purely private consumption, your own track to cherish. But Grant has now compiled the first 19 songs into Bespoke Songs Volume One, available to download via Bandcamp with the option to donate to the Simon Community, which provides emergency accommodation and housing advice.

As for Grant, it remains to be seen if his shows in November with the Hallelujah String Quartet will proceed. “I’m missing gigs so much, that communion with people,” he says. “It’s such a big part of my life. But I’ve been really busy, between bespoke songs and recording my next record. And walking the ass off my dog.”

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