Emerging singer-songwriter Beth Malcolm made quite an impression with just two brief song slots during January’s online Celtic Connections. Here she reprises one of them, Leavin’ Loch Leven, inspired by both natural history and the human sort, Mary Queen of Scots’ incarceration on the loch and its abundant wildfowl. She prefaces it aptly with an extract from the late Jim Reid’s Greylag Geese.
Malcolm’s song won last year’s In Tune with Nature competition promoted by the traditional arts organisation Fèis Rois with the government agency NatureScot. “Leavin’ Loch Leven was the song of the year so far as I’m concerned,” the 23-year-old laughs. In fact 2020, despite its constraints, also saw her win a coveted Danny award at Celtic Connections – “the last live gig that happened for me.”
Malcolm grew up in Perth, steeped in folk song. Her father, Jim Malcolm, is one of Scotland’s best-known traditional singers, as well as being a prolific songwriter himself, often performing with his wife, Susie, and with Beth. “I think of myself as being fully indoctrinated,” she says, “although I went through the stereotypical rebellion in my teenage years, listening to lots of pop music. I boomeranged back with a vengeance and I think I share my Dad’s love for the songwriting side of it too.”
She describes her song craft as folk-influenced contemporary, and as wider influences cites the “three pillars” of Karine Polwart, Michael Marra and Joni Mitchell. As well as solo performance, she has also sung with the formidable Glasgow jazz-folk fusion band Fat Suit and next year expects to tour Europe with a group of young Scots traditional players.
Like any other musician she has been fretting for a resumption of live-performance: “Although I do feel that all the pent up frustration of the past year will translate into sheer joy when it happens.”
For more on Beth Malcolm, visit www.bethmalcolm.com
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