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Pale White Branches

by Andrew Howie

supported by
Mike K Smith
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Mike K Smith Andrew's songwriting and storytelling is outstanding on this release. Favorite track: Madeleine.
Daniel Borsos
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Daniel Borsos Andrew Howie’s songs are brimming with compassion and love and a cracking band brings the music to life. One of the best albums of this year. Favorite track: Madeleine.
Jo Wilson
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Jo Wilson Thoroughly enjoying this - one of Andrew's strongest. Wide, thought-provoking range of subject matter, with great instrumentation throughout - loving the full band treatment - and a first class production job from Iain Hutchison.

A few contenders for favourite track, but the driving rocker "Madeleine" takes it fairly easily in the end - a compelling narrative matched nicely to the dynamics of the song, and the Bee Gees line was a brilliant "wait, what?... Oh..." moment on first listen. Favorite track: Madeleine.
ploggit
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ploggit The best of the many, many things Andrew has released over the years. Not a duff song, some lovely instrumentation and a couple of the emotional gut punches I've come to expect. Hope he gets to play some shows with this band. Favorite track: Partick Station.
Haydon Spenceley
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Haydon Spenceley Just got to the end of a listen through. What a fine album. Excellent, thought-provoking, meaningful, good tunes and some real poignant moments too. Broompark Drive is a really good song. Favorite track: Broompark Drive.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a six-panel card wallet, designed by Andy Robertson, with artwork by Derek Steele, and photography by Stephen McLeod Blythe.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Pale White Branches via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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1.
They ruled the oval, Māori brothers up in arms Kinship and colours, silver blades in their palms All Blacks forever, they fought fierce, no backing down Young ones with old wounds in a broken town In class we learnt their war dance to scare our enemies At lunch they fought with those they’d danced, hidden by the trees We walked their war zone, but the war wasn’t ours Pens and blades, swings and bars Pens and blades, swings and bars A god of the forest, Tane across from me A follower, a fighter, he fell by the trees We lined the windows as they flew him away Silence deafening, after sirens too late In class we learnt their war dance to scare our enemies At lunch they fought with those they’d danced, hidden by the trees We walked their war zone, but the war wasn’t ours Pens and blades, swings and bars Pens and blades, swings and bars Once were warriors got sons at the gate The looked after children lived next to our place No one to wait for, detours they roamed A house divided doesn’t make a home In class we learnt their war dance to scare our enemies At lunch they fought with those they’d danced, hidden by the trees We walked their war zone, but the war wasn’t ours Pens and blades, swings and bars Pens and blades, swings and bars Pens and blades, swings and bars
2.
Open Arms 03:21
Come on let's talk about the weather Let's get it over with We both know it's not getting any better Best to see it as a long wet kiss Cause Lisa wrote it is the reason The spaces are so green From Kelvingrove to Bellahouston And all the nooks and crannies in-between So can we let go of the false alarms And those cliches bearing down on me So we can welcome you with open arms Come on let's talk about the razors The credit we still clutch Dreamed up by an alcoholic baker Is it time to kick it into touch 'Cause Johnny Stark is in the past now He wasn't even real They like to paint us as gritty But this is no mean city So can we let go of the false alarms And those cliches bearing down on me So we can welcome you with open arms So can we let go of the false alarms Those old chestnuts raining down on me So we can welcome you with open arms Come on let's talk about religion Our not-so-secret stain And how the lines we've traced through our past Have turned Christ back into Cain We need to re-write the script We need fresh blood on the stage We need the plot to thicken We need our hearts to quicken So can we let go of the false alarms And those cliches bearing down on me So we can welcome you with open arms So can we let go of the false alarms Those old chestnuts raining down on me So we can welcome you with open arms
3.
I've filled in these forms a hundred times And waited in countless Monday morning lines But I don't know how long I can last When you can't get past my past And darling, I'm trying the hardest that I can To be some semblance of an ordinary man But what if my best isn't good enough for you What if my best isn't good enough? What if I never come good? What if my best isn't good enough for you? If I could teach you how to live Or at least not to make the same mistakes I did Then that would be enough for me I swear Yeah, that could be a medal that I wear But you slam the door and lock me out And God knows what you get up to And what if my best isn't good enough for you What if my best isn't good enough? What if I never ring true? What if my best intentions are just trampled underfoot? Better sit still than rise up and fall Better sit still than rise up and fall Better sit still than rise up and fall Or better to fail than not to try at all (Can anybody?) Better sit still than rise up and fall (Can anybody?) Or better to fail than not to try at all (Can anybody help me?) Better sit still than rise up and fall (Can anybody help me?) Or better to fail than not to try at all (Can anybody help me?)...
4.
California 03:33
Sitting at the table lost for words Books and letters in-between I joke that she can never ever win But she’s beating my by seventeen Looking at scribbles over scores While she just scored another nine Dreaming of a Winnebago And California all the time California all the time California all the time We've each got our own words And I've heard there's a place called paradise America's the place where people disappear And one day the kids'll be alright Franz Kakfa made me wanna read While Francesca really made me wanna write But I've been dreaming And she's the only reason I'm dreaming Of California all the time California all the time California all the time Slide into the summertime Take a ride You’ll be the shotgun at my side On this open road we’re lost for words In California all the time California all the time California all the time
5.
Remember when we the climbed into the back of the wedding car My black horn-rimmed spectacles, your face like a honey jar The open road before us, a simple faith to light our path Our can't-believe-our-luck faces captured unawares in that flash Now over eighteen thousand days have come and gone But no can accuse us of wasting a precious one We've had more than we expected Sometimes less than we could stand But intertwined together we were stronger than a solitary strand For what we have left For what we have left For what we have left I am grateful Remember when we sailed out on the Maggie May The mooring roped tied up at Inverlussa bay We could have dropped the anchor, could have calmed the storm inside But the next great adventure quickly carried us away on the tide For what we have left For what we have left For what we have left I am grateful These days I play my cello while you paint your latest masterpiece We try to do no harm, try to leave a little legacy Surround ourselves with sidekicks who share our blessed past To reiterate the covenant that got us here, that still holds us fast For all we've been given, for all we have left For all we've been given, for all we have left For what we have left For what we have left For what we have left I am grateful Grateful Grateful
6.
With a crazy boss and a broken heart I took a one way ticket alone With a bruised determination I fled the castle I still call home Turning left from Partick Station With my whole life on my back Exhilarated by the freedom But daunted by the friends I lack I made my way to 913 Dumbarton Road Past the Velvet Elvis to my unfixed abode So take a straw And stand in line 'Cause someone in this city Will be a friend of mine Everytime the bus went under the Clyde I could feel the whole building shake But I tell myself don't worry It's not a bomb or an earthquake I feel safe here in 913 Dumbarton Road Above the lawyers and Michaelangelo So take a straw And stand in line 'Cause someone in this city Will be a friend of mine To make a home It just takes time Enjoy the calm before the storm It'll be just fine So make your way to 913 Dumbarton Road And take a hand We'll dance in line 'Cause everybody in this city Is a friend of mine We'll make a home It just takes time Enjoy the calm before the storm It'll be just fine So take a straw And stand in line 'Cause someone in this city Will be a friend of mine To make a home It just takes time Enjoy the calm before the storm It'll be just fine It'll be just fine
7.
Sycamore 04:13
Lately I've been patiently waiting For you to rise up from the forest floor Where your limbs are tangled up in the thorn bush And every movement hurts that little bit more Lately I've been anticipating That someday you would rise from the gloom That these thorns would turn to sticky willow And I could peel them off like scabs from a wound But I've done all I can to save you So until that day I will be waiting for you to Meet me under the sycamore tree Its pale white branches And light a fire at the water's edge And sing me to sleep tonight Lately all this poison ivy Only seems to drag you further behind Robs you of the courage to find me Makes you sleepy and lose track of time Now the days and weeks have turned into decades And how long will I be waiting for you to Meet me under the sycamore tree Its pale white branches And light a fire at the water's edge And sing me to sleep tonight With the melodies that roll across the water Bringing memories returning with the tide Of the man you used to When I became your bride So meet me under the sycamore tree Meet me under the sycamore tree Its pale white branches And light a fire at the water's edge And sing me to sleep tonight
8.
Madeleine 04:48
Madeline was chasing rainbows in the car In the back seat baby tiger tucked beneath her arm Looking behind-ways and sideways Queasiness swimming round her head From the front seat, Daddy Turns around and says, Darling look straight ahead Madeline tasted blood in the summer she turned nine When the stern-faced steward passed her the fake communion wine The glass cups were tiny, the tray was heavy It crashed down to the floor The congregation exchanging glances Her father's cheeks turned red he says, Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead Madeline was twenty-one when she surrendered to the stars In the back seat, Sarah Taylor wrapped around her arms Rocking backwards and forwards The universe exploding in her head Evolution painting rainbows Sarah meets her eyes says Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead Madeline lost her bearings 'round the age of thirty-five In a backwards looking shit-hole where she barely made out alive She was clean out of courage Had to find a way to get out of her head When she shut the bathroom mirror Pills in hand she whispered Darling you're better off dead Madeline woke up two days later dressed in white With two cracked ribs and a Bee Gees earworm in her mind Her exhausted father asleep at her bedside When he woke up, between convulsions He whispered through his tears I'm sorry baby Never look back Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead Darling look straight ahead
9.
Drip Feed 03:30
Of course I would be cynical If I was in your shoes To have reached the highest pinnacle Then slipped between the pews Battered, bruised and senseless from your fight Hiding in the shadows from the light And now your heart's just a little bit, heart's just a little bit hard And you've been trying to figure out how not to put up your guard But there is no answer I have found That can keep you safe and sound Of course I would be sceptical If I'd seen what you'd seen Like a steel-toe cap to the testicles It brought you to your knees Now you're looking and there's no wise men in sight To help you tell the shadows from the night And now your heart's just a little bit, heart's just a little bit hard And you've been trying to figure out how not to put up your guard But there is no anchor I have found To keep your feet chained to solid ground To show the world the dirt I keep beneath my fingernails Is the only way I've found to keep my heart from turning stale But now my hand are in my pockets, fists clenched tight And I'm beginning to prefer the shadows to the light And now my heart's just a little bit, heart's just a little bit hard And I've been trying to figure out how not to put up my guard So if there's an antidote you have found That can draw this poison out Then drip feed me slow Drip feed me slow Drip feed me slow
10.
On Broompark Drive In the summer of eighty-five Where the crossroads cut Through our lives You gave me a home from home An alliance to call my own Footprints to follow through The great unknown It was a baptism into the American dream For this middle-class kid raised on state-side TV With your jam you called jelly, your room called a den It seems pedestrian now but it was glorious then You had a digital watch with its own secret PIN This was cutting-edge tech you could keep phone numbers in And when you gave me my own in September that year It was like catching a glimpse of the final frontier We had late-night sleepovers locked in your room Reading James Dobson's book page seventy two And you had to explain with a static silhouette With your fingers and thumbs against the television set When I spiked up my hair up and got laughed out of school I'd come round to your house and we'd joke and play pool And those cruel little bastards could never compare To the warmth of your home and the peace I found there Then your dad got a job back home in the States And your good-bye gift was this alarm clock that played tapes And it lay by my bed like a delicate shrine Until the digits wore out and I lost track of time Now it's been thirty-five years since we were warmed by that flame And there have been times when I've thought I should look up your name But some friendships burn bright and then flicker down low And there are places and times we just need to let go Like Broompark Drive Nineteen eight-five Where the crossroads cut Through our lives
11.
Echoes 04:36
You caught me off guard with that look in your eyes Like you're bracing yourself for a farewell But the last time I checked I still had breath in my chest Can you still hear the ocean in this shell? I'm staring into the middle distance Trying to gauge the gap between Each waking moment and the leap to the unknown And if this is everything we get Then I'm not ready to let go yet Are we transients who sing then slowly fade? I'm here but I'm helpless An impotent bystander And it's too late to death defy And as the leaves out this window turn their last shade of red I'm like a permanent fixture by your bed And if there's a skill to letting go Then it's one I need to know I'm staring into the middle distance Trying to gauge the gap between Each waking moment and the leap to the unknown And if this is everything we get Then I'm not ready to let go yet Are we transients who sing then slowly fade? Are we echoes of a sound yet to be made? You caught me off guard with that look in your eyes Despite the countless times I've held that gaze But there's no getting used to that flickering light No calender to count down the days I'm staring into the middle distance Trying to gauge the gap between Each waking moment and the leap to the unknown And if this is everything we get Then I'm not ready to let go yet So I grab that magic marker pen So you can read this back again I dim the lights and hush the crowd So you can serenade out loud Are we transients who sing then slowly fade? Are we echoes of a sound yet to be made? And in the end are we the sum of what we gave?

about

"Howie has struck up a brilliant balance on this album, making sure every song has purpose. His empathetic songwriting is what really sets it apart from the rest. 8/10."
- Maverick Magazine

"An album of the year contender upon first listen."
- Rockin' The Suburbs

"A stunning selection of songs... a great album."
- Scots Whay Hae!

"Not just intriguing, but insightful, not only beautiful, but hauntingly spectacular... this is the music not just of a musician in the prime of his career and output, but of a spokesperson for a generation. 8.5/10"
- Liverpool Sound and Vision

A 'Record Of Note' on BBC Scotland's The Roddy Hart Show.

---

Pale White Branches, Andrew Howie's 13th release (or 25th, if you count the records he made as Calamateur from 2000-2011) is the strongest collection of songs yet from the Stirling-based singer-songwriter.

For a musician who often favours working alone, Pale White Branches marks a rare foray into collaborative territory; three of the songs are co-writes, Howie shares production duties with esteemed engineer/producer Iain Hutchison, and a five-piece band play on all eleven tracks.

The songs on Pale White Branches address a wide range of subjects, including a tragic playground death (A Follower, A Fighter), the after-effects of a prison sentence (What If My Best Isn't Good Enough?), and the daily struggles faced in an NHS palliative care ward (Echoes).

There's heart-warming humour too, in California's ode to mobile homes and Scrabble, Open Arms' tribute to Howie's home town of Glasgow, and Broompark Drive's memories of a childhood friendship.

Some of the songs have their origins in Howie's work as a community music tutor; A Follower, A Fighter, Partick Station and What If My Best Isn't Good Enough? were co-written while working with arts organisation Vox Liminis, Open Arms was originally written for a concert and EP in aid of Glasgow charity Refuweegee, and Echoes was an original commission, written for the launch of the Macmillan Tayside PEOLC Network.

Recorded at Glasgow's GloWorm Recording, Pale White Branches is Howie's first album since 2010's Each Dirty Letter to feature a full band: Lewis Gordon (Deacon Blue) on bass, Phil Wilkinson (King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt) on drums, Tim Davidson (Attic Lights, Dropkick, Camera Obscura) on pedal steel guitar, Graeme McKerracher (The Great Albatross, Vox Liminis) on electric guitar and banjo, Lucy Cathcart Frödén (Jo Mango, Tall Tales) on backing vocals, and the afore-mentioned Iain Hutchison (Eddi Reader, Mike Vass, Runrig) on piano and Hammond organ.

The drawings on the album sleeve are by Derek Steele, who also illustrated Howie's 2010 CD Each Dirty Letter.

Sycamore – the first single to be released from Pale White Branches - has been played by Roddy Hart and Iain Anderson on BBC Radio Scotland, Mairead NicIllinnein & Emma Lamont on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal, BBC Radio West, Phoenix FM and Jim Gellatly's Amazing Radio show.

credits

released June 22, 2021

Lucy Cathcart Frödén: vocals
Tim Davidson: pedal steel guitar
Lewis Gordon: backing vocals, bass guitar
Andrew Howie: acoustic guitar, casio keyboard, electric guitar, synthesizer, ukulele, vocals
Iain Hutchison: backing vocals, hammond organ, piano
Graeme McKerracher: backing vocals, banjo, electric guitar
Phil Wilkinson: backing vocals, drums, percussion

All songs written by Andrew Howie, except:
'A Follower, A Fighter' written by Hannah Graham and Andrew Howie.
'California' written by Andrew Howie and Alan Kerr.
'Partick Station' written by Andrew Howie and Colleen Souness.

The phrase “transients, who sing” from 'Echoes' is borrowed from the poem 'Here lies our land' by Kathleen Jamie. Used with permission.

Recorded and mixed by Iain Hutchison at GloWormRecording, Glasgow (with assistance from Ross Saunders & Sam Welch).

Produced by Andrew Howie and Iain Hutchison.

Mastered by Peter Beckmann.

Original artwork by Derek Steele.

Photography by Stephen McLeod Blythe.

Design by Andy Robertson.

Thank you: Graeme, Iain, Lewis, Lucy, Phil & Tim for bringing these songs to life.

Additional thanks to: Joe Bowden, Deans Buchanan, Hannah Graham, Eon & Alison Hetherton, Alan Kerr, Rosas & Tony Mitchell, Colleen Souness, Alison Urie, and the Vox Unbound class of 2015.

For Lindsay.

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Andrew Howie Scotland, UK

Andrew Howie is a Scottish singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist & community music tutor who has been writing, recording and releasing his own music for over two decades.

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