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by Malcolm MacWatt

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    CD in gatefold card sleeve with liner notes and lyrics. Front cover from a linocut by Tilly Trevitt and photographs by Gary Paul.

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Bailouts for bankers handouts for the rich Blue collar man gets a kick in the teeth They’re buying us cheap and selling us short Taking us for everything we got I’m just one small rock, I’m sliding downhill Gotta roll with the country, I can’t go where I will I’m just one stone solo but I’m picking up speed Moving along just hoping to meet Another small rock and another small rock and another small rock Now we’re rolling thunder and we’re never gonna stop Construction work was destroyed by the suits Timber trade was torn up by the roots Seems like the good jobs are no longer made Not much call for an honest trade Cos together we’re a landslide Together we’re an avalanche Together we’re a landslide You’re never gonna stand a chance We’re moving like a freight train Pulling like a riptide Together we’re an avalanche Together we’re a landslide Steel mills slumber turning to rust Farmlands tilled and crumbling to dust Even the oceans and the air that we breathe Poisoned, polluted for greed
Dear mother I wish I could tell you that I made my fortune in gold But I squandered away all the money you saved to send me out here with your hopes I was driven here by despair and hunger Hard times for family back home By wind in the sail and wheel upon rail I came here with fire in my soul But I never got past San Francisco Saloons and the opium dens The card games and girls became my whole world And I got me a load of new friends I bought all my comforts with money For all of my pleasures I've paid The whores and the whiskey, the tears of the poppy I spent much more than I made My friends left along with my money And the money left a long time ago It went along for the ride with my health and my pride Now I’m sick and I’m lonely and cold Ch: Now all the gold in San Francisco Won’t buy back the life I wasted away I’m gonna die here in San Francisco Please send this letter back home when I’m in my grave I’ve sold the watch that you gave me I sold my warm winter coat I’ll buy one last night of earthly delight With women and whisky and smoke My heaven’s a whorehouse in Frisco An opium pipe is my dream And a bottle of booze and a hand I can’t lose Will give me back my self-esteem So mother I wish I could tell you that I made my fortune in gold But I squandered away all the money you saved an that story’s about to be told
All you ghosts of Caledonia I see you everywhere In towns and flags and places whose namesakes you share Embedded into legend and written into song And by the way, in Elgin Illinois you’re saying it all wrong All you ghosts of Caledonia rattling your bones In graveyards around the world the famous and unknown You haunt the trails and battlefields where you lay down and died And in the deep I hope you sleep beneath an ocean sky All you ghosts of Caledonia those whom I won’t speak their names I hope they feel the weight of all those souls they kept in chains They built their little empires on the broken backs of slaves Will those they owned forgive their sorry souls on judgement day CH: The deeds you did for good or ill echo down the ages still Time forever judges what we do We’ll be ghosts of Caledonia too All you ghosts of Caledonia those who history has erased Perhaps you spoke sedition or did not know your place You stood against oppression or spoke the rights of man Even if I do not know your name I’d like to shake your hand All you ghosts of Caledonia before Columba came To put you pagan picts and celts and witches to the flame If your spirit wanders like a heathen without faith There’s plenty here who still believe the old gods knew the way All you ghosts of Caledonia no matter where you roam If you died with Alba in your heart you’re more than halfway home Don’t settle for eternity behind those pearly gates Cos it looks like we might really need your help again today
There once was a lass called Molly MacPhee and she came came from my home town Her hair was black as the northern sky and her eyes were a bonny nut brown And when she smiled she could turn the coldest winter to high summer Oh Molly McPhee will you marry me for I cannot love another The single men and the married men all wanted her the same And the preacher lusted after her much to his mortal shame One by one she turned them down and they could not understand Why a woman would want to live without the guidance of a man Molly McPhee was a witch some said and the rumours spread like fire Her dark charms could snare your heart and fill it with desire Her bed’s a certain road to hell where your soul will never return Oh Molly McPhee will you marry me my soul already burns CH: Molly oh Molly won’t you come away let’s leave this place right now The men are making a gallows rope the same men you turned down If you’re a witch I can live with it we’ll dance ‘neath a Halloween moon Molly oh Molly come away with me and come away real soon But Molly McPhee stood her ground and said this is my home And I’ll not run like a thief she said for I’ve done nothing wrong And if I’m the devil’s daughter as this holy preacher claims Then why does he come round begging for me to lift my skirts for him That’s a lie, a lie the preacher screams oh people can’t you see This witch has cast her demon’s spell to catch my sacred seed And all the men looked at the ground and said the preacher’s right Let’s hang this bitch, aye she’s a witch, let’s hang the girl tonight So they dragged Molly to the hanging tree and there they strung her high The women cut her long black hair and the crows plucked out her eyes And some still say if you stand beneath the tree and listen well (you’ll hear) Remember me I’m Molly McPhee and I’ll marry you all in hell
My bonny boys have gone, there was nothing for them here They thought about it long and their choices were so clear They could work the stubborn land or an unforgiving sea Or they could go in search of hope and grand opportunity So my bonny boys have gone and I hope they send for me I don’t want to be alone with just my memories Their father died last year a bitter broken wreck And I know that they all feared to follow in his footsteps CH: To Canada, America, Australia Scattered to the wind like thistle seeds When the sons of Scotland sail into the distance The heart of Scotland bleeds So my bonny boys have gone and my heart is feeling sore A mother so afraid she’ll see her sons no more But I smiled and said farewell as I kissed them one last time My bonny boys have gone and I am left behind My bonny boys have gone the miles and time don’t fade My fierce and tender love for the children I have raised I hope that they’ll be fine, they’re good and brave and strong But I cannot help but cry for my bonny boys have gone
Well I’m in love with the miller’s daughter But the miller said I could not court her So we would climb where the gears would hide Words of love and her sweet sighs. My words of love and her sweet sighs She was young but resolute Seed could spill but not bear fruit For the miller had made his plans To wed his girl to a rich old man. That’s just the way it was and I could understand CH: When the wind was up and the sails spin round When the miller worked and the grist was ground We’d be rolling round and around Just me and the miller’s daughter We carried on for a year this way Until finally came her wedding day So we kissed our last goodbyes Then she became another’s wife. He was rich but he was not kind So every time when the wind was high And the miller he had corn to grind We’d be up where the gears would hide Secret love and secret sighs. You see our young love it had never died One fateful day we were discovered The wind had made us careless lovers The miller climbed up into the gears His rage and shame were crystal clear and his shotgun warned me to get the hell out of here So I hear news from time to time She has a son I suspect he’s mine Her husband’s rich but he’s getting old So I’ll just wait till his body’s cold. Then one fine windy day I’ll be going back home
Trespass 03:15
I’m up before the sun I don’t ask leave of anyone With a good dog by my side The game is on and we steal out into the wild You say you own this land Your fence gives you the right to bar and ban Your signs offend my eyes Your bill of sale is only paper I don’t recognize CH: So give me a lurcher and the dark of night Give me the woods and a moonlit weald Give me a river where the salmon bite And I will give you trespass through forest and field Gamekeepers kills the mountain hares And every bird of prey that they see in the air With poison trap and gun At war with nature so rich men boast and have their fun There was a dairy in this town Butchers and bakers now they’re all closed down Now supermarket forces rule Shrink wrapped and sanitised but the car park’s always full
To Canada you sailed but the winter held you prisoner So you signed on as a doctor for the Hudson Bay A humble man prepared to learn the ways of native wisdom And Canada’s first nations still respect you to this day CH: John Rae, Orkney shines a light upon her son And in Canada your name forever lives on Your wandering is over, you don’t walk this world alone John Rae Scotland welcomes you back home You learned the cruel fate of the Franklin Expedition And the truth of how those brave men met their doom You found the final answer to the Northwest Passage question The Arctic route at last revealed for all to sail through M8: You mapped the Arctic coast, by foot and sled and boat A thousand miles and more, through lands of ice and snow To survey and explore where few white men had gone before Took the heart of a true Scottish hero But for credit well deserved your claims were cast aside Stripped of your glory for the part you played Your good name trampled down by a widow’s pain and pride Who did not care to sample of the truth that you conveyed It’s not a name I ever heard at school in history books Just Livingstone, some kings and queens and Burns But John Rae’s exploits in the north demand a closer look His place in history he most surely earned
Intro: My daddy liked the whiskey My daddy liked to drink My daddy played the banjo Or that banjo would play him When drinking and a frailing He’d let out a rebel yell And we all knew that we were due A night of living hell Go to bed now my sweet children And I will play something to help you sleep Then he’d put metal picks upon his fingers That’s when ma would start to weep That banjo was so loud could wake the devil So we would close our eyes and say our prayers Sweet Jesus save our souls and all the while his fingers rolled And all our dreams were nightmares and despair CH: My mama would wail, my brothers would cry And all the while daddy smiled and played his banjo lullaby We would lie awake afraid and wild eyed And all the while daddy smiled and played his banjo lullaby Mama said he used to play the guitar Said he used to be a righteous man But one night he walked down to the crossroads And he came back with a banjo in his hands
Looks like a war is going on between the ocean and the land A violent sea is clawing at the earth with angry hands And a cruel arctic wind is whipping up a sandstorm That blasts across the beach in a cloud of silica and salt I’m standing on a rocky shore my arms stretched out like wings Seaspray burns my eyes and flying sand nips at my skin I’m powerless against this force can’t even stand upright I know that this is what the song of god must sound like CH: In a couple of hours the wind will drop and the sun will turn the sea from grey to green And the sky will go from black to blue And a golden light shines on the mountain peaks Then the sun will run away and hide Behind a thundercloud that’s darkening the sky And a wind blows up to make you shiver This is a North Atlantic summer Somewhere high in a shady holler snow defies the rising sun Clinging on against the odds for another winter still to come And down below the broom turns from green to yellow blossom Vanilla fragrance sweet and heavy in the air so warm But the waters all run deep and cold from streams of melting ice Take the plunge and you’ll come up for air with your skin on fire And all too soon long daylight hours shorten and cloud over And as the sun sets lower in the sky winter’s shadow grows longer


Under the umbrella of Santa Cruz-based Need To Know Music, Scottish songwriter Malcolm MacWatt continues to highlight the Celtic voice in Americana music with his latest album Settler.

MacWatt weaves Scottish balladry with Appalachian string band influences to tell stories of loss, injustice and arduous journeys. With contributions from renowned Americana artists Gretchen Peters, Laura Cantrell and Jaimee Harris, as well as British folk icons Eliza Carthy and Kris Drever, the album acknowledges that music travels from place to place picking up new inflections and nuances wherever it puts down roots.

Settler builds on the success of last year’s Skail EP, conceived and recorded at his London home during the first Covid lockdown, with MacWatt exploring ties between Scotland and the New World. The EP was warmly received with superb reviews and extensive airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. The new album was also home recorded, mixed at L Sound London then mastered at True East in Nashville.

Hailing from Morayshire with the Highlands and North Sea as a constant backdrop, MacWatt was raised listening to the folklore and music of Scotland. His love for the outdoors saw him spending much of his life as a keen hillwalker, snowboarder and surfer; learning first hand that the Highlands are beautiful and uplifting but unforgivingly harsh if taken for granted. Like many other young men from the area he worked on the offshore oil rigs where the power of the North Sea was a constant reminder to remain humble in the face of nature. As such there’s sensitivity, compassion and humanity in his songwriting with a rugged simplicity and directness in how they are delivered.

“When people are uprooted sometimes all they can carry with them are their stories and experiences. Throughout history the Scots have settled all over the world, my family included. I’m a mixed-race Scot with a keen interest in ideas surrounding heritage and identity. Nations were built by people seeking a better life and it is easy to forget our own ancestors were all settlers and immigrants at one time.”

MacWatt plays all instruments on the album with Kris Drever providing electric guitar on one track.

Paying tribute to his stellar guests, MacWatt explains that every artist involved brought their unique personalities to the songs.
“For me, Eliza, Gretchen, Jaimee, Kris and Laura are a dream line-up and I feel truly honoured to have them contribute to Settler.”

"Masterful songwriting...perceptively written, superbly played and poetically produced" Americana UK

“Malcolm MacWatt has produced one of the finest new CDs of the year... a delight from beginning to end” Roger Williams, A World of Difference, Blues & Roots Radio

“The songwriting on this is just top table, top of the tree.” Tim Walker, BBC Radio Lincolnshire

“Absolutely loving your new album! Wow.. fantastic voice and music” Tony Corner, Blues Corner

“This cat has game. Like your records full of stories and dashes of poetry? This is your guy” Nathan Bell

“The new album is extraordinary” Lorna Simes, Global Heartbeat WSCA, NH

“In short: beautiful songs, beautiful arrangements and lyrics that stay with you. Excellent album” Moors Magazine NL

CD of the Month - Lucky Dice Music, NL

Album of the Week - Johan Derkson, Rijnmond, Musik voor Volwassener, NL

"They seem to have a good nose for music at the Need to Know Music label. Earlier this year the magnificent albums Red, White and American Blues by Nathan Bell and Tricks of the Trade (Deluxe Edition) by Malcolm Holcombe were released. Three times is a charm, because Settler by Malcolm MacWatt also turns out to be a bull's eye." Music That Needs Attention NL


released November 25, 2021

All songs written, arranged, performed and recorded by Malcolm MacWatt who plays guitar, resonator guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and percussion. Mixed by Phil Dearing at L-Sound London. Phil also played the bass parts.
Mastered at True East Mastering, Nashville TN. Produced by Brian Brinkerhoff at Need To Know Music, Santa Cruz. Guest contributions by Laura Cantrell, Eliza Carthy, Kris Drever, Jaimee Harris and Gretchen Peters. Linocut by Tilly Trevitt, photography by Gary Paul


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Malcolm MacWatt London, UK

“MacWatt will doubtless be considered among the best of the new breed of folksingers and songwriters, who speak of the past as a way to perhaps understand it and move forward” Stephen Rapid, Lonesome Highway

“He shines as a singer and he shines as an interpreter of the eternal folk songbook,” Tom Brosseau, The Great American Folk Show, North Dakota
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