You can quickly run out of superlatives when attempting to describe RURA. As they prepare to unveil their fourth studio album (and sixth release) it’s hard to believe that the wall of eclectic, intoxicating sound they create is made by just four musicians.
But they are four outstanding musicians. Steven Blake (pipes, keys), Jack Smedley (fiddle) David Foley (flute, bodhrán) and acoustic/electric guitarist and bass player Adam Brown. They have performed on stages in more than 20 countries; won multiple coveted awards, featured on BBC-1’s Hogmanay Celebration and thrilled festival audiences from Cambridge to Shetland, Tonder to Winnipeg.
The Glasgow-based foursome have established themselves as one of Scotland’s ‘must see’ instrumental line-ups – an act of incredible energy and musical alchemy.
They celebrated their whirlwind first decade with a milestone gig on the final day of 2020’s Celtic Connections Festival in front of a 1200-strong audience, just before COVID lockdown kicked in. During that incredible ninth appearance at the world’s largest winter festival of its kind they recorded an album to celebrate their 10th anniversary, Live at the Old Fruitmarket, welcoming on stage a star-studded ‘house band’ featuring some of Scotland’s finest folk musicians.
L to R: Adam Brown, Steven Blake, David Foley & Jack Smedley
Celtic Connections was where it all began for the band – they were Danny Kyle Award Open Stage winners in 2011 and won the Best Up and Coming Artist accolade the same year in the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. Just four years later they were so well established that they won the 2015 Live Act of the Year gong in the same awards.
Live at the Old Fruitmarket followed on from debut album Break It Up (2012), Despite the Dark (2015) and their first exclusively original and instrumental release In Praise of Home (2018).
Smedley and Foley joined forces for an acclaimed debut duo album Time to Fly in 2020 whilst in 2021 RURA released the collaborative EP Our Voices Echo along with five top drawer Celtic musicians – Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis, Ross Ainslie, Hannah Rarity and Michael McGoldrick.
Now they are on the brink of releasing their sixth album, Dusk Moon, which sees them reunited with producer Euan Burton. The band arranged most of the album at Boat of Garten in the Scottish Highlands before returning to Glasgow to record.
Where Live at the Old Fruitmarket was an out-and-out barnstormer this finds RURA in more reflective mood, but the nine tracks – chock full of optimism and solace – are no less life-affirming.
With tunes written at a time when no–one’s life was untouched by the global pandemic and all the challenges and emotions it brought, their exquisite collective musicianship shines through – shifting from lush, layered cinematic arrangements to edgy, fast-paced tunes that turn on a sixpence and soulful, stripped back numbers with space to breathe.
Masters of slow burning tune sets that suddenly ignite into vast groundswells of sound this is an album that showcases all four’s composing and precision playing talents.
Says Jack: “We’re really proud of this record. Much of the music has been inspired by a deep sense of reflection, hope and the people and places we’ve been so fortunate to meet and experience over the years. We’ve tried to focus on what we enjoyed most about our last studio album ‘In Praise of Home’ and build on that sound. 2022 was as exciting as it was challenging for us and many of our colleagues, following two years of real disruption. So to come out the other side with a new record feels great and we can’t wait to take it on tour this year!”
The opening track from the album Journeys Home, served as a soundtrack the band were commissioned to create for a poignant short film as part of Edinburgh’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations in 2021. The film followed the stories of four characters navigating what was an incredibly challenging but hopeful time for everyone – and also featured the band members themselves.
Says Jack: “We were thrilled to be involved in the making of Journeys Home. To play a small part in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, especially in the context of the preceding two years, was a true honour. We strive to write music that resonates with people and this film provided the perfect excuse to sit down and build an arrangement that conveyed hope, love and optimism.”
Dusk Moon is released on March 17 and will be showcased on a 15-date tour in England and Scotland in March/April including a date at London’s King’s Place. It is available at https://rura.bandcamp.com/album/dusk-moon and usual streaming sites.
Tour Dates as follows:
For further information please visit: www.rura.co.uk