The Scotsman Sessions #405: Anna Massie

Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions, a series of short video performances from artists all around the country introduced by our critics. Here, Black Isle native Anna Massie performs the track Thanks for Writing, taken from her album Two Down

A perky paean to the dying art of letter writing, the song Anna Massie performs for her Scotsman Sessions video, Thanks for Writing, taken from her new solo album Two Down, was inspired by the remarkable response she received to her Black Isle Correspondent “vlog” – the online video log she started during lockdown, when she was back with her parents on her native Black Isle.

“I love writing letters, but the song came about through my daily vlog. I made videos every day from home, documenting what we were up to; it could be just hosing out the wheelie bin or walking the dogs or a bit of local history or playing a tune with Mum and Dad.”

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The vlog went on to win the Music in the Media section in the 2021 Scots Trad Music Awards, but Massie hadn’t reckoned with the response she’d receive to it. “Mail started arriving, addressed just to Anna Massie, the Black Isle Correspondent, and thank goodness we know the local postie because more and more stuff started turning up at the house: not just cards and letters and postcards, but a hamper for the dogs one time, and a bottle of Harris gin. And someone sent a 100th birthday card when we got to the centenary episode.

Anna MassieAnna Massie
Anna Massie

”But it was lovely, so the song was written basically as a way of saying thanks to all the people who had got in touch.”

Audiences may be more used to Massie as a masterful guitarist and fiddle player, within the ranks of bands such as the fiddle quartet RANT, Blazin’ Fiddles or her duo with piper-accordionist Mairearad Green, not to mention her role as presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk.

Surprisingly, Two Down, as the title suggests, is only her second solo recording in 21 years. A long time between albums, she agrees, but she’s kept extremely busy between them: “There’s been a fair amount of procrastination, but I love being part of a group,” she says. “There’s so much collaboration, which I really enjoy, so I suppose I’ve been a wee bit feart of putting my head above the parapet. It can be quite daunting to put your own name and sound out there.”

The album’s instrumental sets see her multitracking slickly on guitars, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and keyboard, not to mention some fruity “mouth trumpet” vocalising. Her parents, Bob and Alison – “the Pioneers”, to whom she dedicates her lovely Pioneers’ Waltz – briefly contributed mandolin and spoons.

As well as her own Thanks for Writing, she sings some covers including wry performances of JP Cormier’s My Life Is Over Again and the late Rick Taylor’s Anything From You. “I just love a good lyric, anything that brings a smile or catches my ear.”

And when she tours, she says, it’s just her and guitars, a mandolin and her fiddle: “I’ve got a big boot.”

For more on Anna Massie, see

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