Review: ‘The Natural Place – Music Inspired by Galloway’ album by Mike Haysom
Southwick-based Mike Haysom released his Galloway-inspired album, ‘The Natural Place – Music Inspired By Galloway’, in 2018.
When handed the details of this album I must admit to having been unaware of Mike Haysom. I’ll openly admit that this was largely due to Ukulele-based music not being my go-to. However, a quick scan of his Small Town Sounds profile brought me up to speed with an award-winning Ukulele and Classical guitar player of high standing.
The album title, ‘The Natural Place – Music Inspired By Galloway’, immediately brought back memories of easy listening records. I was thinking of traditional folk singers in the style of Harry Secomb, wandering fells, and singing tales of sheep. However, after listening through the ten well-crafted tracks, I was met with a varied musical landscape. It was filled with light and shade, melodies creating texture and images of the natural beauty Galloway is known for.
An incorporation of musical styles
As a completely instrumental album, Haysom puts the Ukulele front and centre. The additional Uke harmonies, sparse percussion, bass, and a clever use of effects nicely augment this. He describes his music as “Progressive Folk”, so it is difficult to pin each track to one specific style. Haysom incorporates traditional Folk styles with Latin, traditional Scots accents, harmonics, and even hints of prog rock.
The album opens with ‘The Scottish Riviera’ which flows between the contemporary, while bringing a sense of “Uke-Ole-le” (I know, a truly horrible pun, but go with me). It’s easy to think of Spanish beaches and sunshine with this track. It is this sense of lyrical creative playing that sets the tone for the album. We go on to move from beaches, through woodland, across countryside, and conclude with ‘Sunset at Balcary Bay’.
Bringing Galloway to life with music
An album lacking lyrics is often a tricky thing to balance, especially as has been seen with guitar instrumental albums often descending into drawn out solo sections, or excessive repetition of the main theme. Happily, this isn’t the case with ‘The Natural Place’. Haysom ensures that the narrative of each track isn’t lost, and that the length of each track is well judged. The longest track comes in at six minutes, which in the interest of constructive feedback could have finished at the five minute mark. The track builds to a dynamic peak with a natural ending, however it is not to the detriment of the track that it continues.
The three track run of ‘Grey Mare’s Tale’, ‘Kirkcudbright Brolly Parade’ and, personal favourite ‘Lovers Walk’ flow together showcasing everything this album has to offer.
Haysom’s outstanding musicianship shows throughout the ten tracks. Listening through headphones recommended as he brings the music of Galloway to life.
Review by Scott Jordan.
You can find out more about Mike Haysom on his website. Listen to ‘The Natural Place – Music from Galloway’ below.