‘High Hopes’ is Little Fire aka Jamie McGeechan’s seductive debut album, hot on the heels of a CD of Burns’ tracks recorded in Burns’ cottage in his honour, a world first.
I’ve been waiting for this for four years, since watching the singer songwriter perform in Dingwall in 2011. It is no surprise that the vulnerability and honesty that got me in that performance has caught me again with this enchanting release.
The 11 tracks on ‘High Hopes’ tell stories of romance delivered in Little Fire’s trademark husky Scottish drawl, stories that were waiting to be told.
For the most part, other than flickering guitar strings, instrumentals don’t meddle too much in the songs, allowing space for McGeechan’s charming vocal to take precedence. ‘All I Need In Life’, ‘Bonnie Wee Thing’ and ‘Caught In The Seams’ stand out for this reason. “There’s a girl I’m gonna see / She makes it all feel real for me / Takes me places I wanna go / All the things that I wanna know” he sings on the latter.
The opening track ‘You Mean Something To Me’ is a strong, memorable melody with piano and percussion accompaniment that lingers long after the song fades.
‘These Days’ stands out for its simplicity. It requires no embellishment beyond its sincerity infused vocal, which give the lyrics deeper meaning. The track paints an indelible picture of the brain ruling the heart, of love avoidance and the myriad of obstacles we invent to hinder love: “All my life I’ve been trying to find / A little love and a peace of mind / All my life I’ve been trying to learn / Don’t get too close and you won’t get burned / All my life I’ve been trying to make / Bad feelings for love and the ones we fake.”
The truth is we cannot hinder love, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. This is evident in ‘To Fall In Love’, in which McGeechan sings of surrendering to a feeling that wraps around his skin. Angelic violin strings and piano flood the background. Like a beautifully cut gem, you get what’s he’s saying without it having to be spelt out.
The album’s energetic title track ‘High Hopes’ is typical of the glass half-full vibe evident throughout his stage performance, delivered with unrestrained passion. ‘I Met a Girl’ and ‘Fire Me Up Now’ achieve the latter.
The album reaches its conclusion with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Have You Seen The Moon’, another unhurried ballad: “Have you seen the moon / Have you seen yourself?” McGeechan ponders “Have you opened the door to someone else?” he wonders with a yearning vocal that burns a little fire into my veins, bringing the album to an intimate close.
The impression I’m left with is an enchanting storybook of songs speaking to matters of the heart; who or what is on his mind is beside the point, it’s who the songs prompt you to think of and the feelings they evoke that matters. There’s a wistful edge running through the entire album. A real find and a breath of fresh air on the folk, roots and acoustic scene.