An intimate and fitting farewell to beloved Edinburgh label Song, by Toad
Song, by Toad Records celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, but the milestone was overshadowed by the news that the influential Edinburgh independent label founded by Matthew Young would soon be no more. The latest in the label's series of special split 12-inch records, Vol.7, was released in June and features Canadian artists FOONYAP, LT Leif, Woodpigeon and Dana Gavanski. It is also, mournfully, Song, by Toad's final release.
FOONYAP, LT Leif and Woodpigeon have joined forces for a short collaborative tour in Scotland and send off for Song, by Toad. The trio (regrettably missing Dana Gavanski due to other commitments) has dubbed the touring project c(h)ord and are playing five small venues this week, kicking things off at The Happiness Hotel in Leith. It's a fitting place to start the tour; The Happiness Hotel is the home of Song, by Toad Records and also where the 12-inch split was recorded. The 'hotel' is Matthew Young's large garage next to his home, cleverly converted into a welcoming recording studio and live music venue, complete with a cozy wood-burning fireplace.
There are only about 25 people at the gig, mostly friends and family, making this an incredibly intimate farewell of sorts to Song, by Toad. Edinburgh band eagleowl provide support, opening up the evening with their beautifully orchestrated lo-fi songs featuring violin, cello and double bass. Vocalist and guitarist Bart Owl thanks the Canadian guests about to perform before finishing their set with a sweet cover of 'Snow Falls in November' by Canadian singer-songwriter Julie Doiron.
FOONYAP, LT Leif and Woodpigeon take the stage and perform a number of tracks from the split 12-inch, each taking turns on lead vocals. The chemistry between the three performers is immediately apparent; FOONYAP later explains that she has been friends with LT Leif since middle school and describes Mark Andrew Hamilton of Woodpigeon as her 'musical godfather'.
Standouts led by Hamilton include 'He Follows Me' and 'The City is Mine', songs that he originally recorded with Frontperson, a project with The New Pornographers' Kathryn Calder. Violinist FOONYAP takes the lead on gorgeous numbers like 'Aram' and 'Yes/No', while the quietly unassuming LT Leif plays the ukulele and wows the crowd with her powerful vocals on 'White Bird' and 'No Birds'. In true Canadian fashion, the trio tackle a charming version of a song most recently made popular by Céline Dion, 'I Drove All Night', before gathering around one microphone and closing with the LT Leif-led 'Hard Time'.
Although the album and tour effectively marks the end of Song, by Toad, it's clear that the community Matthew Young has built down in Leith at The Happiness Hotel will endure for many years to come.
FOONYAP, LT Leif and Woodpigeon present c(h)ord, Gathering South Sessions, Glasgow, Wed 9 Oct; Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Thu 10 Oct; The Elm House, Craigrothie, Fri 11 Oct; Old Cinema Laundrette, Durham, Sat 12 Oct.