In this age of social media, the spirit of music has found fertile ground. In 2007, two kindred spirits met on an acoustic music forum planting the seeds for Cross the Border. Native to Glasgow, Scotland, Stoo Nicol had found some tender and inspiring instrumentals on MySpace from Gary ‘Sketchy’ Painting of Kent, England. Soon the pair was collaborating on their first track and earning their first gig as Cross the Border in Dartford outside London at Bar Mondo in the summer of 2007. The band grew and in 2010, Here We Stand was released in the United Kingdom. The band features members from across the United Kingdom and beyond, truly embodying their namesake.
I am a big believer that the organization of tracks on an album is just as much of an artistic statement as the individual songs. On Here We Stand, a recurring theme is the emotional pain of violence. “Sake of the Blade” opens the album as a commentary on the knife crime in the British Isles that sets the tone for the album, focusing on warm and nostalgic acoustic melodies with emotional lyrics and vocals.
The album is melancholy but there is also an air of longing and mystery particularly evident in the lead guitar of guest Steph Macleod in “Cat’s Eyes” and the touching instrumental, “Winter Sun” featuring the fiddle of Yuuka Yamada. Cross The Border channels their collective empathy in “Prelude to War” a grim testimony to the horrors of war. The theme of loss and pain is echoed in “Unsung Heroes” and “New Dawn” detailing the painful return of a soldier from the battlefield.
The band credits many American groups, including Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, and Simon and Garfunkel as their influences. The acoustic guitar in “Immortal” sounds eerily similar to the Eagles but the song maintains a fresh perspective thanks to the djembe for percussion. The group performs a sincere and heartfelt interpretation of the Irish blessing, “May the Road Rise” in the style of Simon and Garfunkel that will make any Irish man or woman proud.
Cross The Border’s folksy, emotional, acoustic style touches the heart of the listener. The band is currently working on a new album due for release in autumn of 2011. If they can recapture and capitalize on the emotional strength of this inaugural effort, I am sure we will hear much more from this band in the years to come.
Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland
Similar Artists: Old Blind Dogs, Mad Dog McRea, Show of Hands. Scotland Brotherhood
Randy Williams is an Air Force veteran who studies European history and computer science in Colorado Springs. He dabbles with the bodhrán, guitar, and tin whistle but prefers to appreciate the professionals on Celtic Music Magazine. Randy never misses a traditional pub during his travels, be it to Ireland, Italy or the United States where he has learned Celtic musical traditions from a wide variety of artists.