"An admirable talent" (Rob Adams in The Herald)
“Tom Clelland is a talent” (Living Tradition)
"Excellent storytelling and country/folksy finger picking" (The List)
“The Van Gogh of songwriting, Tom Clelland, painted pictures of death, mayhem, beauty, love and a measure of tongue-in-cheek humour.” (Glasgow Festival of Songwriting.)
Wendy and I were at the world-famous Wee Folk Club in The Royal Oak in Edinburgh on Sunday 1st October.
The show was a sell-out with a really great audience. We knew it would be special when we got to the third song "Speaking Truth To Power" and everybody joined in, making for a wonderful chorus.
Thanks to everyone who came along and thanks to Charlotte and Marianne.
Thanks also to everyone who came to the concert with Wendy Weatherby on 14th August at The Acoustic Music Centre on the Fringe. Special thanks to Wendy and John on the sound.
Reviews of Handpicked and Collected
From Iain Anderson's Facebook Page
"This week's featured album is 'Handpicked & Collected' by Tom Clelland, a double-CD collection of remastered tracks by the Lanarkshire songwriter who we haven’t featured in quite a while. Nice to rediscover his catalogue in this handpicked format. CD one includes story songs digging into Scottish history and legend, and CD two is an assortment of old favourites, specialising in love songs, nostalgia and gentle Americana, all performed with utmost modesty and warmheartedness."
From Living Tradition
This is a double compilation CD from the Scottish singer songwriter, showcasing examples of his work from previous albums and other projects. It has a laid-back, gentle feel throughout, making the most of Tom’s easy style of delivery, warm familiar-feeling voice and nicely finger-picked guitar.
The first disc, Handpicked, features eight “story songs”, some from his own albums along with one from a Lanarkshire Songwriters project, a live recording from a David Roberts tribute evening in the Elphinstone, and an unreleased song, Berries, that’s got a familiar, folky vibe to it – a song I can definitely imagine being picked up and sung by others.
The second CD, Collected, boasts 15 songs from previous albums, Little Stories, Life Goes On and Next Time, as well as a track from A Garden Of Songs, adapted from a Robert Louis Stevenson poem. This CD has a bit more of a country / Americana feel to it in places, and includes a great song, I Wish That I Could Write Like Old Guy Clark (don’t we all!). Ironically, it actually does sound like it could be a Guy Clark song, as do a couple of others here (e.g. Jack Jackson and Slip Away), so Tom’s not doing so badly.
Tom and his guitar are front and centre in these recordings, but he has gathered a fine group of other musicians around him, and their contributions are sensitively made. They include Clive Gregson and Steven Polwart on guitars, Wendy Weatherby on cello, Mairearad Green on pipes and accordion, and producer/arranger Davie Scott on “all other instruments” and occasional harmonies.
I love the honest sentiment of Next Time and Let It Snow, the wry observation of life in Slow Down, the storytelling of The Grassmarket Butchers and The Devil And The Hangman, and the clever lines in Country Music Once Again (“don’t let those fiddles turn to violins.”). I’d happily spend an evening in the company of Tom and his songs in a folk club somewhere, when we finally can.
From the Folking website.
While I was not well-acquainted with the work of Tom Clelland, I’ve always liked songs that tell a story, so I was immediately drawn to his new CD release Handpicked & Collected. The compilation consists of 23 tracks mastered/remastered by Kris Koren and spread over two CDs. Handpicked is a selection of eight story songs – including the previously unreleased ‘Berries’ – with a Scottish connection, while Collected features a wider range of themes and influences.
All the songs are credited to Tom except for ‘How Far Is It To Babylon’, of which the lyric is adapted (very successfully) from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem To Minnie. Tom sings and plays guitar on all tracks, but a number of very capable musicians provide support on various songs (but not all at once), notably Mairearad Green on pipes and accordion; Wendy Weatherby, Don Dougall and Joanne Grant on cello; Steven Polwart, Clive Gregson and Robin Laing on guitar; Norman Chalmers on concertina; Willie Gamble on pedal steel; Fiona Cuthill and Pete Clark on fiddle; Alistair Kennedy and Kris Koren on mandolin; Phil Sakerski on dobro; and Davie Scott on “all other instruments“. Rather an impressive guest list.
Though the first CD favours Scotland in its subject matter, the actual themes of these stories cover a wide range – the Great War (‘Dig’), the Gulf War (‘The Wind She Changed’), the 15th century Battle of Harlaw (‘Carrion Craw’), the persecution of the Covenanters (‘The Grassmarket Butchers’), the supernatural (‘The Ghost Wi’ The Squeaky Wheel’), whimsy (‘The Balancing Boy’) and “the passage of the seasons” (the previously unreleased ‘Berries’). All told with unassuming grace and subtlety.
While there’s an Americana-ish tinge to some of the tracks on Handpicked, there’s a more pervasive country feel to many of the tracks on Collected, as well as a fuller instrumentation. Which is all fine by me: there are worse things than admiring Guy Clark (‘I Wish That I Could Write Like Old Guy Clark’), or writing the pop-y ‘Send Me Another Smile’. And if there isn’t a ‘Desperados Waiting For A Train’ on Collected, ‘Stormclouds At A Distance’ and ‘Let It Snow’ have an emotional pull of their own, though perhaps my own favourite track is the Stephenson setting ‘How Far Is It To Babylon’ (sic).
Tom Clelland has a pleasant voice, plays effective guitar, and has attracted some first-class instrumental support. But the real treasures here are the songs. For me, the tracks on Handpicked are the most interesting, but the country vibe on Collected is never less than engaging and includes some classy songwriting and performance, with some very singable choruses. And while cover art isn’t something I generally comment on, there’s something very pleasing about Savannah Storm’s floral paintings.