Single Launch Review: ‘Fox’ by Zac Scott
Although I love Newcastle, it is great to get out of the city occasionally, and even out of England, to see what’s happening elsewhere.
And I reckon there is no better place to go for a musical enthusiast than Glasgow – Scotland’s vibrant, culture filled city, and the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music.
This time, I went to watch singer/songwriter from Dumfries, Scotland, Zac Scott launch his debut single ‘Fox’ at The Old Hairdresser’s pub.
I had witnessed Zac playing live a couple of times before and was very impressed by the exceptionally diverse soundscapes that his music creates.
So my expectations were quite high for this evening, especially because Zac would perform as a part of a 7-piece, including a cello, a viola, a double-bass, an electric and an acoustic guitar, as well as a piano.
The Old Hairdresser’s pub is hidden in a secretive and rather plain-looking lane in Glasgow’s city centre. So hidden that you probably won’t discover it as a visitor, unless somebody from Glasgow invites you there. Relying completely on Google Maps, I was proud to arrive at the venue on time.
When I walked into the small and cozy upstairs-room, I was welcomed by Zac and his band members, as well as a warm and friendly atmosphere.
More and more people squeezed into the little room. Most of the crowd already knew each other as friends, family and fellow musicians all came to celebrate the single launch and enjoy a night of wonderful music together.
Before Zac and his band took to the stage, he introduced two singer/songwriters who were keen to share some of their original tunes with us.
The first support act was Kate Kyle, also from Dumfries, who charmed us with her wistful tunes and her elf-like voice. Kate was followed by Glasgow’s singer/songwriter Grayling, a former student of Zac, who gave us a beautiful set of happy and sad tunes to accompany her soulful voice.
Now it was time for Zac and his band to take to the stage – but first Zac received a loud and cheerful “Happy Birthday” from his supporters, as it had been his birthday the day before the single launch.
Then, at last, the headliners started playing their first instrumental song ‘Bara Fínt’, followed by ‘Million’ and a number of other originals, such as ‘A Middle’ and ‘Stuck, Sticky’, all of which expressed the wide and dreamy sound that is typical of Zac’s music.
On that night, however, his songs sounded even broader, fuller, and richer than I had remembered them from previous gigs, which was surely due to the multi-instrumental support he received from his band.
Strings, percussion and keys blended with Zac’s impressive vocal range that ranges from high, soft and vulnerable, to loud, strong and powerful. The result was a sound which successfully reflected the vastness of Scotland and Iceland’s breath-taking wilderness.
Zac and his band certainly did not fail to transform the spirit of these spectacular landscapes into an equally vast and epic soundscape which, like a puzzle, consisted of a number of little sound pieces that melt into a bigger picture.
The tunes evoked memories of my trip through Scotland last year. When I closed my eyes, I saw before me the harsh and wild nature, the long beaches of the country’s east coast and the harsh but pure beauty of the mighty Highlands. It was truly inspiring to listen to all those familiar tunes, which had now taken on a new shape and a new quality of sound.
After everybody had been stunned by the impressive performance Zac and his band had delivered so far, the evening finally reached its highlight when the singer introduced his new single ‘Fox’.
Characteristically for the artist’s song-writing, the track is a reflection of the natural environment that surrounds him, an environment that he carefully absorbs.
Having been inspired by an encounter with a couple of foxes, the track is a beautifully sensitive song, featuring dramatic strings, melodic electric guitar riffs, gentle keys. All intertwined with Zac’s distinctive vocals and come together to create a dreamy soundscape.
‘Fox’ started as slowly and carefully as a shy fox sneaking out of his burrow. Warm vocals, a soft, rhythmic guitar riff, gentle keys, and a mild beat and bass were joined by elegant cello and viola strings, opening up a soundscape that became broader and more complete as the song progressed.
During the pre-chorus, both the vocals and beats gained more momentum until they merged into a melodic and memorable chorus. The second verse maintained this energy while being a little bit more upbeat and energetic than the first one, as Zac’s voice was now supported by background vocals, which added even more soul and emotion to the sound.
The second pre-chorus only consisted of vocals and a gentle beat – but this was only the calm before the storm, as the chorus that followed featured all seven instruments and built up a considerable amount of energy, which merged into a melodic electric guitar solo.
After the solo, the song exploded into a stunningly powerful and catchy chorus, releasing the full power of the song before it was slowed down by a soft piano version of the previous guitar solo (in the studio version of ‘Fox’ both solos are played by a piano).
Zac finished the song with sultry vocals, which were accompanied by a rhythmic piano tune and staccato strings that almost sounded like the steps of a shy fox quickly vanishing into the thicket.
‘Fox’ is a track, that builds up slowly, waits for the right moment to release its full energy and then finishes quietly. The single is filled with emotion and beauty, power and energy, and its confessional lyrics tell a story that is inspired by the wildlife of Scotland and Iceland. All of these elements make it a very authentic, dreamy, and even cinematic song.
As a songwriter, Zac pays much attention to the world that surrounds him, and he possesses the wonderful ability to transform his impressions into beautiful songs, which enable us to gain insight into his perception of the world.
‘Fox’ is now available on Spotify and Apple Music, and has been produced by Thomas Brumby in the Southside of Glasgow.
On both for his single ‘Fox’ and his album ‘For the Love of…’, which is coming out in October this year, Zac was supported by a number of musicians from Scotland and Iceland, including Stuart Macpherson, Cameron Black, Grace Dale, Sarah McWhinney, Kenny Cormack and Gudrun Soley Siguradardottir, who helped him create a truly distinctive sound.
Listen to ‘Fox’ below:
Header image by Ocular Sound.