“He’s very good…” Eartha Kitt
“Thoughtful and passionate songwriting” Scotland on Sunday
“great voice the man’s got, very mellow…loving that…” Shaun Keaveny, BBC 6 Music
Singer-songwriter Douglas Kay (“Thoughtful & passionate songwriting” Scotland On Sunday) has spent the past two decades recording, touring the globe and playing on bills alongside the likes of Billy Bragg, KT Tunstall, Colin Hay and Amy MacDonald.
The wealth of experience gained on stage has seen Kay develop into a hugely engaging live performer and formidable songwriter whose captivating, folk-tinged songs have gained critical acclaim and airplay worldwide.
HEIST ON A BIKE – November 2021
November 2021 sees the release of Kay’s 6th album, Heist On A Bike. The 12 tracks contained therein showcase a songwriter/performer who is as much at ease in the studio as he is in the live arena, as he weaves together an absorbing work which demonstrates his assuredness across a variety of genres.
With live music halted during the 2020 lockdown, Douglas joined with a group of fellow songwriters – affectionately referred to as the Mutual Slating Society – to engage in weekly Zoom sessions during which each writer would perform a brand new composition for the others to critique. From these sessions emerged a clutch of songs which would form the basis of this new album.
Recorded in Highland Perthshire during the spring & summer of 2021, it was very much a solo project with Kay writing, playing and producing. There is, however, a stunning vocal contribution from Douglas’ sometime live collaborator Carol Laula on the wistful track At My Best – a song based around a simple acoustic guitar hook which sees the elderly narrator ruing how the achievements of life are overlooked by others in old age. The other outside contribution comes with an appearance by South London saxophonist Chris Smallwood on the album’s atmospheric, piano-led closer, Stay With Me.
Elsewhere on the album Kay flexes his electric guitar-playing muscles in a way not seen since 2009’s Into Your Head, with the pumping, riff-driven Kick Out The Fire, the melodic rocker Break Us Apart and the raw, bluesy When The Devils Come. He also develops his use of vocal harmonies with multi-layered, Queen-inspired voices on Magnificent and on Nearer To Home, while the counterpoint vocal melodies on Run Aground and the mandolin-driven, country romp Strike Me Down hint at the influence of Crowded House and Simon & Garfunkel. Throughout, it’s Kay’s distinctive voice, memorable melodies and captivating lyrics which combine to deliver such a rewarding listening experience.
The 2003 release of his debut album Of All The Towns To Sleep In generated airplay on radio and TV stations worldwide, including BBC Radio One, Australia’s GWN & Xfm London. Its follow up, Douglas Kay Band’s 2009 album Into Your Head, is a varied collection with moments of delicate beauty (as on the guitar and strings number Everything In The World Outside’s Alright) contrasted by the swelling crescendo of tracks such as Haunted.
The song Better went on to top a poll of tracks by Scottish acts in the Edinburgh Evening News.
An acoustic album, Last Touch, was released in late 2012. This stripped-back collection features 12 tracks which showcase Kay’s vocals, guitar & piano, and hint at some of his traditional folk influences. Lead track, All That We’ve Lost – a duet with Joanna McQuillan – received considerable airplay and critical acclaim. The tour Douglas played in support of that album included a guest slot for Grammy Award winner and former Men At Work frontman, Colin Hay.
Douglas returned to the studio in 2014 to work on Lift, which like its predecessors gained airplay on BBC Radio. Perhaps his most eclectic work to that point, the upbeat, rootsy stomp of opening track Casablanca Face introduced a collection which veers from contemporary folk ballads to slide blues, from piano ballads to melodic guitar rock. The album’s release was followed by a UK tour during the middle part of 2015.
2017 saw a flurry of studio activity, the fruits of which arrived in December with the release of the Winterland EP (and accompanying video) and then in February 2018 with Kay’s 5th album, Volcanoes. This album showed him exploring different sounds in the studio, and revelling in the ability to deliver his songs with the additional harmonic textures which can’t be easily replicated during solo live shows.
In addition to solo recording, Douglas has undertaken numerous other projects in recent years. Collaborations with others have seen him record a radio session with Adam Holmes for BBC Radio 2 and record backing vocals on Rebuild the Universe by Australian band, The Winter Migration.
Kay has been the driving force behind A Songwriters’ Circle, a show which features Douglas and other songwriters sharing the stage to perform their songs, discuss the writing process and collaborate on each others’ material.
Douglas has also recorded and performed across the UK with his traditional folk duo, The Sorries, a project which has not only seen the pair play countless sell out shows from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Moscow but also deliver lectures and perform in schools, explaining something of the origins of Scotland’s traditional songs and how the folk tradition has been perpetuated throughout history.