Sunday, November 28, 2004

He has arrived

Very happy to report the arrival of one Taylor Lewis Barclay in Aberdeen (Scotland) on the 25th November at 9.26 pm. My first grandchild.

He's a big boy at 7lb 2 oz and seems very well apart from some bruising to his little head as a result of the use of forceps (which I forgive).

Drove up to see him yesterday and he is fantastic - as simple as that. Children are great and small babies who are your grandchildren are particularly so. I would recommend this to anyone!
Very proud of him, his parents and the brace of new aunts and uncles he has.

New impossible songs CD "social enterprise" does make some mention of the importance of children and their often profound and simple take on things. Listen to what your kids are saying!

It's not always easy or acceptable but it can be pretty rewarding.

Check us out at still (and always will be) rockin' in the twee world!

Monday, November 15, 2004

November - 55

Well this month I should become a grandad, tomorrow to be precise if medical predictions are to be believed. A grandson too, somewhere up north, far up on the Scottish coast he will be born, in sight of the sea and the fog and the crashing waves, gull sounds in his little ears. So strange, he will be born in a town a few miles from his great great grandfather's place of birth, born with a northern tongue in his mouth and a salt smell in his nostrils - 99 years after the birth of his great great grandfather, whom I never saw and who never saw me, who died in 1950. A man in a Naval Officer's uniform, framed on the wall in a strange picture of memory, whose name I share. I stared into his dead blue eyes in the frame, puzzled as a child could be. Was he tall or short? Happy or grumpy? Political or religious? Did he laugh, love and cry. I'm sure he was many things and lived a life but died as young as 55. I did not hear his stories, his son (my father) told me very little of him.

My father saw me and didn't see me. We lost each other. Then I lost him altogether, he too died at 55 and now watches over my guarded memory and keeps it from the sentimental and the painful, just enough. Years cause image and feelings erosion and the picture fades but the grandsons and their sons grow up in his and my place.

My son's are the best men in the world. I am a puzzle and an embarrassment to them and as they become fathers the curses of expectation, disappointment and doubt will strike them.
The blessings of love and delight and opportunity will carry them, and I will make it my business to do all I can to live longer than 55.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

impossible songs - reviews and other stuff

Well it's been a busy few days at work, play and impossibling. Main impossibling events have been of course the SoS download on Sunday, the "Songs for Change" event on 02/11 and OOTB on 04/11. Songs for change, brilliantly organised by David Ferrard featured loads of bands, singers and performers doing material focused on the US election et all.

We happily played a short set: "how I hate" a poem by Ali called "it could happen" check out "words waiting for music" at for the full version - and then an old song called "rainbow".

Also been piecing together snippets of reviews from live, cd and "other" sources. A mixed bunch of observations but fun and I guess informative, as follows:

Some selections from recent live reviews of our acoustic sets in Edinburgh over the last few months:

"Speaking of politics, we learned next that Ali from Impossible Songs (orImpossible Tunes, if you are a Scotland on Sunday reader - I’ll explain in a bit), fancies Tony Blair (no not at all! says Ali ). Naturally, she denied this vehemently, but it wasn’t enough to stop the playground chant of ‘Ali luvs Tony’. (I say playground, I mean me). A sterling atmospheric and harmonic set of songs (or tunes) included ‘Rainy Friday’ – a gentle, calming piece about looking outon the world from the Forth, whilst pondering the contrast of schemies and posh folks. I’ve heard this song/tune several times now and it really does grow on you. ‘Rainbow’ is another atmospheric grower with ‘love and pain intertwined with sun and rain fall together’ like the duo themselves. Somenifty fretboard adventures from John on this one. Congratulations to them,though, as they were featured in Scotland on Sunday last week, where they were described as Impossible Tunes. You can download their song at"

04/11/04 Tommy Mackay

"First night back after the summer break and it was great to see so many regulars there to support the night, and many new faces also. The evening began with myself, followed by John and Ali with their “Impossible songs”. Quite aptly, they began with a song dedicated to all the music makers (you’ve got the right audience then). John employed a staccato strumming style with moving chords, while Ali clear high vocal with trademark phrasing told us of the pursuit of the ‘crazy vision’. John has quite a distinctive guitar; evident in the second number ‘heartburst’, short runs and mixed chords nicely illustrated a complex and well rounded song with some lovely melodic lines. ‘Waitress’ played on the idea of the title referring to some one who waits, this haunting song was augmented by harmony singing onthe chorus, great songs."

30/09/04 Fraser Drummond

"Social commentators, erstwhile critics and sales gurus for OOTB, Impossible songs gave us their perspective on Queensferry, "something’s always happening on the river", a sort of curtain twitchers (joking) look at the almond and its denizens. John and Ali's music has distinctiveness, it would be hard to sing and play this at the one time. They capitalise well on the independence between guitar and vocal. Ali informed us that these were"soft summer songs", another optimistic little ditty, "this boy has no chance with me, has he, happy like, a kamikaze", uplifting stuff. There was a curious layer of Japanese reference through this song, impossible songs almost sculpt a mood from song. A final work in progress, "Don’t push away my love" allowed John to coax a lot of melodic lines from a series of quite blue chords."

19/08/04 Fraser Drummond

"John and Ali, other wise known as Impossible Songs, started proceedings tonight. Ali’s breathy vocals needed a little more confidence I thought, or maybe a bit more power, for their first song. This was one I’d heard a few times before; I always remember the ‘pa pa pa’ sections and climbing chorus melody. The lines “how I hate to hate you now” and variations on the theme were apt for a song that seemed to be about the end of a relationship.“Dancing” was a new one to me though, gentler with some nice finger style playing from John, letting the open strings ring out. It made me think of a music box dancer, about the right tempo and feel to it but with a darker middle section to keep things in balance, and Ali’s voice fitted this one alot better. Their final song, “Daddy”, is another one I’d heard before, dedicated to Fathers for Justice, child support agencies etc. Nostalgic and reflective, there was no shame in the lines ‘daddies work good, daddies work hard’, ‘daddy’s there to clean the dirt’, it sounded like a song you might sing to your kids. John joined in with some harmonies, a nice addition to this one; it’d be good to hear them in some of their other songs as well."

29/07/04 Nick Rowell

"First up tonight we had a duo called Impossible Songs. The first song was entitled I Hate. I have seen these guys once or twice before and you can't really go wrong with them especially the melodic female vocals over the unique guitar playing. This song was well prepared and performed to a high standard with lyrics like "how I hate I loved you then" which to me illustrates how close love and hate can be together. The almost blue systyle, which Impossible Songs have, was a great way to start the night.Their second song was called Quiet Genius and sounds a little like SuzanneVega. A contrast with some male vocals in this song would be beneficial. Overall another well-structured piece with lyrics like "the lips I see but cannot catch just the tick of the clock to restrain me". There is somethinghere about the frustration of seeing someone attractive and being unable to go for it. Something that I am sure all the guys have experienced but the women pretend not to. The third song called Tokyo Skyline was a very relaxing number with unusual lyrics "carry me there carry me anywhere" which implies she wants to discover the world and the many great places on offer.Something fascinates me about this song and it has a good title. This was a case of going with the flow. "

10/06/04 Willie Fyfe

All the above from Out of the Bedroom and a big thanks to all responsible for reviews, sound, running and administering the night, the website and the events.

For the cd “scapes” July 03 onwards:

7/10 for this CD: More good stuff to come from impossible songs Reviewer: Jim@ootbThis CD expands of impossible songs' acoustic performances, introducing electric guitar, fretless bass, synths and drums. The song EASY utilises this instrumentation, which is a highlight of the collection and is pure pop. Alison's breathy vocal works well with the funky backing and the cheesy keyboard solo is class.

Very sexy vocals from Alison Reviewer: Jim@OOTB The opening track HAPPY LIKE features a very sexy vocal from Alison and the song swoons along wonderfully. On the evidence of this track, Alison could actually be Scotland's answer to Jane Birkin (Francophile vocalist on the banned 1969 No 1 hit "Je T'Aime".

Interesting and original - spacey and ethereal Reviewer: JG Atmospheric songs with at times whispering vocals, spacey and ethereal with thoughtful lyrics coupled with mean riffs and guitar twiddling.

Unexpectedly wonderful Reviewer: PG Has surprising bite and character, well written and thoughtful songs containing an eccentric and engaging set of sub-plots and odd but beautiful observations. Unexpectedly wonderful.

Belle and Sebastian meet Fleetwood Mac Reviewer: JB On crisp cold days some where in Southern Germany these songs were recorded with the distant alpine snows muffling and holding and forming a serene studio backdrop. This seems to have given this CD a clear and crystalline 80's style German production sound coupled with the Scottish and Celtic roots that these songs grew from. Needs listened to and explored - accompanied by a decent bottle of red wine. Worth the trip.

For Heartburst: From Music News Scotland – Oct 04
September 5, 2004

New cd album "heartburst" out now from South Queensferry's (Scotland) intellectual rock snobs and heroes of crisis "impossible songs". They will change your world.
This month Scottish duo John Barclay and Alison Hutton - "impossible songs" have released a new cd album "heartburst". The cd is available direct from cdbaby, by download (soon) or direct from


"Heartburst" is the latest cd album release from impossible songs (John Barclay & Alison Hutton) a rock/pop duo based in Scotland in the village of South Queensferry in the shadow of the Forth Bridges. It's the third impossible songs cd in three years following on from "early eurosongs" and "scapes". It's also a further mixture of the dark and disturbing and quirky and ironic rock style that has made "impossible songs" very popular in the Edinburgh area. It's clear now however that their work is reaching a higher level, the songs are stronger and more polished and this cd is deserving of a wider audience. The cover artwork (you must see the inside lyric page!) is a masterpiece.Heartburst was recorded in May 2004 in Germany at Muffel Studios with the valuable assistance and input of Martin Freitag. The original wonder world soundscapes, wide open and bright guitar work and ethereal vocal styles are thanks to his studio disciplines and production work. The songs are all labours of love from John and Ali's seemingly never ending well of songwriting styles and musical imagination.Ten great tracks are featured, the standouts being "dancing" a crazy sad lament over love gone wrong accompanied by an acoustic guitar swinging on a trapeze and booming fretless bass work and then "all the vows" a grinding metal riff battling with a housewife's frustrated rant. Another superb song is the gentle ballad "tokyo skyline" which masks a complexity of enigmatic meanings and themes as we are caught up in the heat of city life with its hope and ambitions. The final track "cold fish" is a ball-bursting rocker that's just good clean fun.You have to hear it all.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Scotland on Sunday v Impossible Songs

This may be posted too late to be effective but..

We're the download of the week on Scotland on Sunday's (a rather decent Scottish Sunday newspaper) free downloadable web service. AYE TUNES. You, an ordinary and well meaning member of the public can down load one (1) of our fine tracks for free thanks to these good people and our song being jolly decent. The song is of course "dancing" from our 2004 album "heartburst". This free and ridiculous offer ends soon (when?) so download us now (otherwise its 59c from i.Tunes) the link is:

the mystery password is "impossible" - easy as pie, or even easier.

Had a bunch of fun also being featured in the paper, small article & photo, texted, phoned and emailed loads of folks and rushed a press release out - you just never know!

We've also got a few free cds to give away - three tracks: tokyo skyline, east of z and dancing. The special white label cd is only available from us for a limited time and only to people we really like or people who promise to perform some useful task for us - if you think you may fall into either catagory then email us on it may work for you.

incidentally our cds are now available in the UK from a new source, please try out
they seem to sell a lot of interesting stuff - both mainstream and independent.