Yorkston/Thorne/Khan release their new album Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars… It follows the band’s debut album, 2016’s critically acclaimed Everything Sacred, and presents a confluence of currents, among them the north Indian sarangi; jazz-tinged bass, reminiscent in places of Danny Thompson; acoustic guitar that owes a debt to Elizabeth Cotton, Dick Gaughan and Mississippi John Hurt; and three very different vocalists – James Yorkston (East Neuk of Fife), Jon Thorne (Isle of Wight) and Suhail Yusuf Khan (New Delhi).
The first track to be shared from Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars is ‘False True Piya’ – mingling traditions as diverse as Britain and India via the Appalachian Mountains.
“Piya is a word in the Hindi language, meaning beloved,” explains Khan. “The Hindi lyrics of the song were composed and written by me. They talk about a lover who is longing for a beloved, devastated by pain. A point comes when the lover starts hallucinating that the beloved has arrived and starts having conversations with this hallucination. There is a strange feeling of dark happiness: the beloved is there, but only as a hallucination.” “When Suhail explained the Hindi lyric to me,” Yorkstoncontinues, “it reminded me of the great old song The Daemon Lover, also known as The House Carpenter, so I sang a fragment of Annie Watson’s version to introduce the piece.”
This harmonious and singular collaboration can be found across all of Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars, and in fact, YTK’s Everything Sacred may be the only precedent. “The combination of a singer-songwriter, a jazz bassist and an Indian classical sarangi player is totally unheard off,” says Khan.
A collection of traditional Indian and UK folk songs, beautiful originals and idiosyncratic covers, Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars does not only bring together Indian classical music and jazz, then, but kosmische too; Yorkston also cites dub reggae, Uilleann pipes and the Madagascan guitarist D’Gary as influences. That breadth, says Thorne, is critical: “I think YTK is a fine example of how music operates without boundaries as a common international language and a source of cross-cultural unity. It’s an important message in the times that we live in.”
Produced by YTK and recorded entirely onto 24 track 2” tape at Analogue Cat studios in Northern Ireland by Julie McLarnon, Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars comes after a period of steady touring for the band (including incredible main stage performances at Green Man, Celtic Connections and Edinburgh International Festival, and tours in India, Spain and Ireland) and reflects the confidence and increasingly fluid interplay between Yorkston, Thorne and Khan.