Raintown - Writing on the Wall
It was some four or five years ago that I first came across Scottish duo Raintown. Paul Bain and Claire McArthur contacted me out-of-the-blue and asked if they could come down to Maidstone to talk about their music and pick my brains for advice and contacts. At first I was somewhat apprehensive … did I really have the time and inclination for this. Then I thought if they’re prepared to travel all the way from Glasgow down to Kent, then they must be really serious and passionate about their music. We had what I thought was a fruitful meeting and in the ensuing years I’ve watched as the couple has worked tirelessly on their music, building a fanbase from the ground up and along the way sealed the deal by becoming husband-and-wife. This is their second album, and it demonstrates tremendous growth from their rather good HOPE IN TROUBLED TIMES debut.
An incendiary live band, on WRITING ON THE WALL, Raintown have managed to retain that ferocity and dynamic drive whilst also producing an album rich in both lyrical quality and musicianship. Their unique sound is a combination of a dynamic and energetic rhythm section intertwined with effortless and ﬂowing harmonies and the duo’s backbone is their songwriting, vocal passion and a general allergy to all limitations and trends. At times their songs are a social commentary on what their road worn eyes have seen, never shying away from even the most poignant subjects. Inspired by their first trip to Nashville, Right Here With You instantly ingratiates the mind as their skilfully balanced harmonies joyously unfold the narrative, with the soulful richness of Claire’s voice, perfectly complemented by Paul’s intense, warm tone. The Clutha Tragedy in Glasgow led to them looking closely at their own lives and resulted in the dramatic Missing You. Binding love of each other, life, and music with endless energy and a lyrical passion that is universal, this is a powerful and moving performance. Claire sets the scene in Nineteen Again, and as the ear-tickling track glistens and glitters around her, Paul adds sensitive harmonies as the sad tale of a young girl’s mis-steps through life unravels.
In their diversity and directness, these tunes serve as a template for the album as a whole and must surely cement Raintown’s position as one of the finest proponents of Anglicised American country music out there performing. An intensely charismatic album imbued with the spirit and energy of their live shows WRITING ON THE WALL delivers a startling take on contemporary country that is both firmly-rooted and unashamedly forward-thinking. Hopefully this, their second album will also provide them with the recognition their songwriting and performance deserve.