Some musicians shy away from addressing current affairs in their songs, but not Ewan McLennan who is playing at Selkirk String Jam Club on Saturday.
Originally from Edinburgh, Ewan now lives down south, but never turns down an opportunity to cross back over the border and is working his way up to Scotland after performing gigs in North Yorkshire and Durham.
Ewan has earned himself his fair share of fans and awards in the last few years, thanks to his music which, as well as having a real traditional Scottish flavour, also has a strong message behind it.
Awards that have come his way so far include the BBC Folk Horizon Award and an accolade in recognition of his track ‘Joe Glenton’, which earned him a national award for political songwriting, thus enforcing his reputation as a musician who isn’t afraid to enter the realms of social commentary.
“If you listen to folk music in its earliest form it is discussing politics and the struggles people faced in their day-to-day to life,” he told ‘WOW’.
“I wasn’t surrounded by heavy traditional stuff as a youngster, but I was around folk music and I loved listening to the great long ballads that had a story. You get pulled in by both their melody and their narrative, and that’s what I try to achieve with my music.”
Ewan’s songs have concerned themselves with everything from romance to politics and he said he found it really easy to be influenced by what’s going on around him.
“Everyone has their own worries and concerns. There’s plenty of songs about love, friendship, community – but one of the themes that really grabs me is politics.
“Yes, I have written songs about falling in love, but I’ve also written ones about the soldiers out in Afghanistan... a number of songs talk about the grim plight of the soldiers; something which is still a big concern today. I almost feel an obligation as a folk musician to tell the story of ordinary people.”
Now famed for his guitar playing, Ewan actually came to the instrument rather late after originally showing a flair for piano as a youngster.
“It wasn’t until I was about 17 that I first picked up a guitar,” he explained.
“Singing is very much at the forefront of my act, but I don’t go anywhere without my guitar.”
Living where he does, the majority of Ewan’s gigs are on British soil and while quick to say that crowds in some places can surprise him, he did agree that the further north he goes the more “up for it” people seem.
“There is something very universal about traditional music whether it be Scottish, English or Irish; I think there’s a real crossover appeal.
“It does seem to translate well with English audience, although I do have to say people tend to be more loud and raucous in Liverpool, Newcastle and the west coast of Scotland; well as loud and raucous as you can be at a folk gig anyway!
“I’m sure the Borders will be great too. I actually recorded my latest album in Heriot and I’m looking forward to playing Selkirk for the first time.”
Tickets for Ewan’s Selkirk gig are available from The County Hotel on the door or from 01750 721233.