Release date – 17th June
There’s been a rich tradition of popular main stream musicians searching for their routes in old folk songs and stories for some time now, from Gruff Rhys and his American Interior to Sting and his Geordie sea shanties. In tone this film is somewhat reminiscent of Gruff Rhys’s splendid little documentary which is probably not surprising as the Super Fury Animals and Arab Strap, Aidan Moffat’s (the main protagonist of the film) first band, were both from a similar era and movement in music. They both kind of existed on the fringes of Britpop if you will. However the creative journey Moffat takes is much more akin to Sting’s. Drawing, as he does, his inspiration from the ballads and drinking songs of old Scottish lore that used to make him laugh as a child and re-configuring them for a contemporary, urban context. This move does not go without opposition and on his journey around the more obscure backwaters of Scotland performing his re-imaginings and one naysayer in particular makes quite an impression.
Shiela Stewart being the lady in question and a traveler who was taught the songs as a child and made a good part of her living touring many of the same venues as Mr. Moffat. However, she believes the songs should be left as they are and to re-write them is an insult to your ancestors. After getting to know Aidan a little you start to see her point. He doesn’t seem to have a great deal of respect for the source material and gallivants about the place like some kind of red faced hedonistic sex imp. None the less, despite his slightly annoying nature he is eminently likable and an hour and a half in his company is far from jarring (although maybe a certain scene with a Nessie doll would have been better off left on the cutting room floor). The colorful rustic characters he meets along the way also make the film something of a delight. Recalling an older, simpler time which in all probability never really existed. Still, the films shameless romanticism and even occasional flirtations with nostalgia only add to it’s charm. All in all a delightful little distraction. And for a double bill I would definitely recommend this and American Interior. Enjoy with a hot cup of bovril, your best tartan slippers and a great pot of steaming haggis.
Reviewer : Steven Vickers