Robin Laing,
One for the Road
(Greentrax, 2007)

Robin Laing is a walking, singing encyclopaedia of "the hard stuff."

One for the Road is yet another fantastic CD of songs for, about and sounding like good malt whisky -- I better leave out that "e" in recognition of his nationality as opposed to mine. (For the uninformed, consider Scotch whisky vs. Irish whiskey.)

A few years ago I visited Edinburgh and on The Royal Mile dropped into a shop where we were surrounded by whisky in all guises, plus its history and, of course, tastings. This album brings me back there.

Laing manages to bring romance into an album of songs about the amber nectar and does so especially well on "Heaven Hill" as he recounts evenings on the porch where they "drank whisky from an old stone jar, we made love in a Mustang car."

As ever he brings us some fascinating tales of the whisky makers with songs like "Elijah Craig." One of the songs not from his own pen is the quiet and haunting "The Sun's Coming Over the Hill," which was written by Scottish countrywoman Karine Polwart.

He turns more light-hearted for the "Speyside Whisky Song." This is a beautifully modulated song in country-dance mode that must mention every brand on offer in Scotland and lets us think we are on a tour of the glens. In the lyrics he prescribes cures for every ailment with a good glass or dram. Even without the lubricant, your toes will tap to the accordion finale.

The beautiful track "The Whisky Makes You Sweeter" from the pen of Amy Allison reminds us that although a drink can be a wonderful addition to life, going that bit too far can make us act out of character. The song is so subtle it is a marvel. To show he is not biased, he includes "Rory's Still," an English whiskey song written by Simon Haworth.

"Everything I Love" reminds us of the sad truth that if you like it, it is probably bad for you. He includes cigarettes, Jack Daniels and caffeine on this lovely country song by Harry Allen and Carson Chamberlain.

Even if you are teetotaler, give this album a spin. It will intoxicate you with sounds and visions.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

8 September 2007

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