LOUIS Abbott is looking forward to bringing some new sounds to old friends.
It has, he admits, been a while since his band Admiral Fallow last visited the north of Scotland, but with shows booked for Hootananny in Inverness and the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, the band’s north fans will finally get a chance to hear songs from third album Tiny Rewards played live by the Glasgow-based band.
"Basically we took a fair chunk of time out to write this latest record," Abbott explained.
"This is probably the first record where we have really poured over the arrangements and all five of us have taken songs to the rest of the band. Everyone has been really hands on from the start. It took a bit longer to get where we were going, but definitely worth doing.
"In a funny way, the creation of the product — if I can put it in a hamfisted way — is such a small percentage of the time you spend together. It’s probably 95 per cent touring and that’s an amazing statistic when you consider that’s the part that lasts and touring is over in a night. It was about wanting to make that five per cent the best that we possibly could."
While previous albums 2011’s Boots Met My Face and the following year’s Tree Bursts In Snow saw Abbott shouldering the bulk of songwriting duties, this album sees contributions more evenly divided among his bandmates drummer Phil Hague, bassist Joe Rattray, singer, flautist and keyboardist Sarah Hayes and clarinettist and keyboardist Kevin Brolly.
The change is one that has happened naturally, the frontman explained.
"It wasn’t ever discussed in terms of people saying they wanted to be more involved," Abbott said.
"It’s taken a bit of pressure off me in terms of generating ideas, but I’m more than happy with the way we worked on that last record and I think we can develop the skills we have been working on and take it into what hopefully becomes album number four."
All Admiral Fallow’s members have projects, or in some cases, jobs, that occupy them outside the band.
For Abbott, who was seen in the Highlands this summer backing Rachel Sermanni at Mumford & Sons’ Stopover event in Aviemore, that also includes working with charity Vox Liminis on songwriting workshops in Scottish prisons.
The charity has recently launched a EP which includes contributions from Abbott, Sermanni, and Emma Pollock of The Delgados.
"A lot of the time you are working with guys who haven’t done any creative writing and sometimes their literacy levels are very low, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say," he said.
"They are in this very dread place where to show any sign of emotion is not what you do to get by, but some of these songs I would be happy to have on an Admiral Fallow record. That’s the great thing about it. You are not just going in and doing something and leaving them there. You are giving them the tools that they can use in the future."
Similarly these outside projects, including Hayes’ Celtic Connections’ commission Woven, which has recently been released as an album, feed back into Admiral Fallow.
"Sarah’s Woven project has been a long time coming and the folk I know who have heard it have nothing but praise," Abbott added.
"We all work with other people and learn things from other musicians and hopefully these are things that we can bring back to our own work as a band and keep it interesting and not churn out records that are quite similar to the records we have made in the past."
Fallow's belief that Tiny Rewards takes a couple of steps on from Admiral Fallow’s indie-folk roots was reinforced when Abbott listened to the band’s debut in preparation for their Celtic Connections show with the Auricle Ensemble.
"It’s amazing how much we have changed since that first record," he said.
"The new album’s quite an involved listen. It’s quite a dense record. It’s one that has lots of little textures that maybe you are not going to pick up on the first couple of times, but it’s the kind of record that I feel lasts a little longer.
"It’s hard to say about your own record because you don’t know if those songs work in that way, but certainly that’s how I think of Tiny Rewards."
• Admiral Fallow will be at Hootananny’s Ceilidh Bar, Church Street, Inverness, on Tuesday 17th November and The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Wednesday 1i8th.