Sanctuary Wood – Ali Mackenzie

'Sanctuary Wood' is the latest solo album by accomplished Northern Ireland based musician Ali Mackenzie.

Sanctuary Wood

Ali Mackenzie

  • Pop
  • Progressive
  • Soul
  • Rock

  1. 1986
  2. Harper’s Bizarre
  3. Lonely Lanes
  4. Funk
  5. The Jig
  6. Picket Line
  7. Not Yer Man (feat. the Leaf-Blowers)
  8. Rhubarb
  9. The Long D
  10. The Drone

Chances are if you mention the name Ali Mackenzie to an average gig going punter they'll blank at the name, yet he's an accomplished musician and composer who's played in bands in the Northern Ireland music scene for more than four decades. His latest solo album, 'Sanctuary Wood', shines a light not only on his playing, but also his immense talent as a composer and arranger.

At work Mackenzie is usually found stage right of the drummer doing what he does best, playing bass guitar and quietly holding the band together, it’s what he does and he’s good at it.  From blues to pop, funk and soul, he’s played in, and continues to play in various bands showcasing his versatility.

Opening the album, ‘1986’ is a dreamy instrumental that has an ethereal feel to it as does the lovely ‘Lonely Lines’ which features some sublime fretless bass work by Mackenzie.  Both tracks have a  hint of other worldliness about them as keyboards and electric guitars intertwine to create a sound not dissimilar to the works of Mike Oldfield.

Showing the versatility of his craft on the aptly named ‘Funk’, Mackenzie lays down some impressive funky riffage on the soulful song which features smoking saxophone by Steve Doolan and James Brown like vocals by Alan McKelvey.  Northern Ireland humour abounds on the delightfully witty ‘Not Yer Man’.  Another funky bass led tune, it’s humour may not play to an outside audience, but James Taylor’s vocal delivery is almost poetic as he narrates the tale of a worker enjoying his sick leave from the office a little too much.  If Level 42 had hailed from working class Belfast then this what they might sounded like.

A co-write with old band mate, drummer Davy Kennedy produced ‘The Jig’, a rocking boogie based instrumental that harks back to Mackenzie’s love of Status Quo.  The progressive instrumental ‘Rhubarb’, features a trio of current Pleasuredome bandmates, Maurice Jay, Niall Driver and Noel Morrow.  It’s another ambient piece with shades of light and dark that’s loosely inspired by the life cycle of an old family plant.

Closing the album on a creative high, the folk rock song, ‘The Drone’ features a ghostly vocal by Ciara Miller over a cacophony of guitars and Lambeg drums mixed with a hypnotic beat.

Mackenzie has produced a beautiful album that’s not flashy, or in your face.  In fact, the beauty lies not only in the music, but in the way is delivered not only by him, but the musicians he worked with to produce the album.  Everyone gets their chance to shine and Mackenzie does what he does best.  He hangs back and anchors the music with style, subtlety and humility.

Lovingly, nurtured and cultivated ‘Sanctuary Wood’ is a forest of riches.

‘Sanctuary Wood’ is available to purchase via