Mal MacWatt & The Glass Mountains is my side project where I can power up an amp, plug in an electric guitar and jam. It's where I can indulge myself with a guitar solo over the swirl of a Hammond organ. It's also where I can explore deeper into the soul, blues, country and rock roots of Americana music. The Glass Mountains was my first band in London and the core are still very much onboard and ready for the return of live music. In the studio, however, "the band" is just myself and producer Phil Dearing. The name "Glass Mountains" represents the London skyline but also the invisible barriers we need to overcome to create a fair and just society.
With The Glass Mountains I have two EPs called Blue Hour and Twilight. Blue Hour and Twilight are different terms for basically the same thing - the time zone between daylight and darkness. It's the wee small hours before dawn breaks or when just after the last rays of the sun sink below the horizon. And it's when you're alone with your thoughts. Both EPs available as a combined CD album on Bandcamp.
Blue Hour/Twilight - Mal MacWatt & The Glass Mountains Independent Release Jan 2021
For ‘Blue Hour/Twilight I revived my side project The Glass Mountains to explore the far corners of Americana music. Where Blue Hour looks at the soulful, bluesier elements, Twilight heads to the country.
The Blue Hour is the brief period just before dawn and just after the sun sets - the twilight zone. The EP is about being alone with your thoughts at the witching hour, too tired to party but too wired to sleep. With so much regret, repentance and reflection in the songs, producer Phil Dearing insisted on a darker, more gritty sound by distilling the blues-soul elements of ‘Dial It Back’ and condensing them down into a more focused roots rock offering.
As the songs came together in the studio they naturally seemed to fall into two distinct camps - half with a strong soul feel and half that were much more country. Initially I thought about trying to integrate them by blurring the edges but it felt more honest to just let the songs take whatever direction suited them best.
I drafted in Leeds-based Steven Hicken Jr to provide pedal steel on two tracks for an unmistakable country sound. I also wanted to work again with London singer-songwriter and session vocalist Clare Portman. By allowing Steven and Clare to interpret the material as they heard it, their input directly influenced the final outcome of the songs. Clare has this English rose, very British quality to her voice which really fits with my aim to write country music that doesn’t sound like anything coming out of Nashville. Steven is also a player of great versatility and his playing added some real country authenticity without the cliches.