Callum Beattie has been hard at making music for almost half his life, making his own chances, taking chances and, for sure, being a chancer. The Edinburgh-born musician has progressed from “mangled” versions of Wonderwall and bad gigs in pubs straight out of Trainspotting, via stage invasions in front of 80,000 REM fans and backstage blags at T In the Park, to where he is now: a singer-songwriter with a punchy, rousing, emotive and gloriously catchy debut album that’s set to light up 2017. And light it up in stereo.
Produced by Ken Nelson [Coldplay, Paolo Nutini] in Liverpool’s famed Parr Street Studios and Monnow Valley Studios in Wales – and featuring writing contributions from former Kaiser Chief Nick Hodgson and guitar from former Verve man NickMcCabe – Lights In Stereo is the record of Callum’s years. It’s a collection of songs clawed from the raw stuff of life [“I do have a lot of abandonment issues”] and bleeding love [“it’s a song about how this person can keep hurting you but you can’t help wanting them in your life,”] he says of the stirring Nothing Hurts Like You]. It’s the sound of his record collection, which ranges from Churches to Sia, Biffy Clyro to Taylor Swift, Christine and The Queens to Kings Of Leon, not to mention the yards of dusty vinyl collected by his equally obsessed dad. It’s real, and it’s moving, and it’s uplifting.
“I’m a songwriter,” says the affably driven Scotsman, now based in London,“and I need to write about stuff that is therapeutic for me. I don’t want to sing about shaking my ass on a Saturday night.”
You can hear as much in the moving Some Heroes. It’s a tribute to the single-parent dad who raised Beattie after his mum left when he was eight or nine. And it’s a song that Noel Gallagher, in his imperial phase, would have been proud to call his own. The deep-down, personal sentiment is there, too, in Bonfires: the musicianship is euphoric but the lyrics tinged with desperation.
“You could see it as a love song but it’s a lot more than that. It’s a song about making the same mistakes over and over. And it has the same vibe as Nothing Hurts Like You.”
That emotive punch is also there in ‘We Are Stars’, set to be lead track on Callum’s first EP. With rhythmic piano belters the track showcases his stunning voice and deft way with melodies. As he says, telling it like it is, as a songwriter his aims are simple and pure: “I just want my music to be beautiful, anthemic and catchy. I do try and write big choruses.”