Just before the world came to a standstill in March 2020, ARBORIST singer and songwriter, Mark McCambridge, acted on a whim and took himself off to Attica Audio recording studio in rural Donegal (Villagers, Soak). Coming off the back of a UK and Ireland tour supporting the second ARBORIST album, A Northern View (★★★★ MOJO, 8/10 Uncut, nominated for the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2020 Best Album shortlist), the idea was to record two songs he’d been performing live in a different fashion; with a string quartet. Finishing off the songs during the proceeding months of lockdown, Mark called upon local Northern Ireland producers Chris W Ryan (Robocobra Quartet, Just Mustard, Careerist) and Ben McAuley (Van Morrison, Girls Names) to craft the final versions of The Mountain Will Come to You and A Heart in Minor respectively. In what may seem like the antithesis of ARBORIST releases to date and the mood of 2020 itself, the songs are both ones of hope, that things might just be alright in the end.
Arborist came to the attention of critics with their debut single, the Americana tinged, “Twisted Arrow”, that features an astonishing duet with Kim Deal of The Breeders. Their 2016 debut album Home Burial was nominated for the Northern Irish Music Prize and released to critical acclaim, with Mojo hailing it as “a staggering debut of depth and substance ★★★★” and The Guardian calling it an “instant classic. ★★★★” Uncut described the lead single, A Man Of My Age, as articulating, “the claustrophobia of family life with sensitive frankness amid a mesmerising Smog-like languor 8/10”.
Mark McCambridge played his first show as ARBORIST a few years ago supporting James Yorkston. A solo tour of Ireland followed before impressive performances led to notable support slots alongside Low, Cat Power, Echo and The Bunnymen and Guy Garvey.
The most recent ARBORIST album, A Northern View, was released in February 2020. Rich in melody and mood, it is resplendent with lush arrangements and underpinned by an uneasiness that unsettles the listener just when they’ve been lured in. The kind of balance found in records like Wilco’s A Ghost is Born or Songs Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co.
Clash Music have called it, “A striking collection of songs, containing some of their finest work yet.” With Uncut saying it, “…skilfully amplifies [debut album] Home Burial’s pathos…a true Northern (Irish) star. 8/10” and Mojo declaring it, “…devastatingly bleak…upliftingly beautiful. ★★★★” With BBC 6 Music play from Cerys Matthews, Cillian Murphy, Gideon Coe and Steve Lamacq who called single Taxi, “one of those records that makes you immediately stop what you’re doing.”