THOUGH Abagail Grey’s new single isn’t a Christmas song it’s got the gift of giving all tied up.
Released on Monday, the two-track single’s called Winter & Icicles and for 24 hours fans can download it free from the band’s website (www.abagailgrey.com).
It’s been produced by the band’s regular production team, Belle & Sebastian keyboardist Chris Geddes and producer/engineer Tony Doogan.
They were also behind Abagail albums The Long Case Clock Suspension in 2009 and this year’s Apple Cherub Dove.
And Claire Campbell – the Inverness singer songwriter at the heart of the band – revealed the power of Belle & Sebastian is also giving the new single a welcome push.
"They’ve been great and loads of people are subscribing because Belle & Sebastian put a mention of it on their website."
Claire explained how the idea for a festive release had happened.
"Winter is a real Christmas song, though it’s not a Christmas song in the traditional sense. It’s definitely a contemporary song.
"But I wrote it years ago when I was living in the sun in Lanzarote and missing the winter.
"I was lonely where I was and the song is about someone in a strange town in the winter.
"It was written about Inverness, I suppose. But I came across the song again and thought maybe I should use it. So we re-recorded it."
Claire has also made a video to go with the song, set in the heart of Inverness.
"I wrote a story about a boy arriving in a strange town with a bag of tricks.
"I just made it myself with a Flip camera and edited it using some free software on the internet. It’s done in the Ness Islands and in a local hotel. It’s very amateur, but it’s got a good atmosphere and it’s up on our webstie and on YouTube so people can have a look.
My initial reason for making the video was to show the guy I originally wanted to do the music video what I wanted!
"But, though it only took an afternoon to do, my version turned out really well.
"I think the trick is to get as much footage as possible. But there’s a lot of wavy camera action because I kept getting the giggles."
Claire revealed more Belle & Sebastian touches on the
"We got some great string players through Chris from Belle & Sebastian to play on the song. They are the musicians he always uses – and the trumpet-player from Belle & Sebastian Mick Cooke also plays on it."
The ever-evolving line-up of Abagail Grey has changed again.
"The band is essentially me, but I’m the driving force, I suppose. Derek Urquhart has returned to the band on drums.
"Ali Brown is still on bass – I think he is the only member of Abagail Grey who has lasted the tests of time! He’s a brilliant musician."
But Claire has also been planning ahead for upcoming Abagail Grey releases.
"In March I’m going to release another single, one of three songs I wrote after my aunt died of leukaemia and I want to do something for a related charity.
"That’s a very heartfelt song – and I’ve recorded most of it already.
"I’ve also recorded most of an album I’ve got coming out in May.
"All the music has been co-produced again by Tony Dougan and Chris."
Claire’s approach to songwriting has been evolving.
"The music I’m writing just now is very honest.
"Sometimes in the past if there’s been a concept, I’ve gone with that and explored it. But this is straight from the heart and honest lyrically and musically.
"I feel I’ve become less afraid. Before I’d think ‘Don’t do that because maybe it’s cliched’.
"And now I feel I’m pushing boundaries less than I was, using different time signatures and everything wacky. I’m doing that less.
"I want to dedicate the album to my aunt and make something that would have made her happy."
"She was a real fan of beautiful music, so I want to make something she would enjoy.
"All the advice she has ever given me has suddenly come to fruition."
The five-date Winter & Icicles tour includes the Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore, on Saturday, Glachbeg Croft, Black Isle, next Saturday and the Ironworks, Inverness, on December 29.