Track Premiere: Whittling Away from Angus Gill, with Jim Lauderdale

Angus Gill is a young singer/songwriter from New South Wales in Australia, whose 4th studio album, The Scrapbook, is dedicated to his love of bluegrass music. He wrote and recorded the music during the recent COVID-19 shutdowns, many of which are still in effect down under, with the assistance of of handful of top US pickers in Nashville.

Among those supporting Gill in the studio were Tim Crouch on fiddle, Randy Kohrs on reso-guitar and harmony vocals, and Clay Hess and Tony Wray on guitar. Angus also collaborated with a number of Music City writers, including Jim Lauderdale, Thomm Jutz, and Jerry Salley. Lauderdale and Salley ended up singing duets with Gill on the album, and Crouch served as co-producer.

Despite growing up far from bluegrass music’s native home, he says that the sound has called to him since he was a child.

“I’ve always been a big fan of traditional bluegrass music. From a young age, I’ve been drawn to the high and tight harmonies, vocal stylings, phrasing, and virtuosic playing. There’s also this beautiful juxtaposition in some bluegrass music when a poignant lyric is set against a rapid tempo and a major chord structure. I just love that!”

A debut single is available tomorrow from The Scrapbook, which Gill said actually served as the catalyst for the full album. It’s one entitled Whittling Away, written with Jim Lauderdale, which Angus says was initially inspired by the heroic struggles his mom went through getting her mother into a nursing home.

“Jim and I wrote Whittling Away in 2019 and I liked it then, but after revisiting it in late 2020, the sentiment of the song hit me even harder than it did when we wrote it. Due to the broken narrative structure, I decided it would work as a duet and Jim agreed to do it with me. I was hearing a slow bluegrass production, so decided to take that approach with this song. I wasn’t sure where to place it at the time, but I had a strong instinct that I needed to record it then. A month later, I started pre-production on another song, Samson, which I had intended to have more Americana stylings. However, it occurred to me after playing it live, that my delivery and phrasing was in much more of a bluegrass fashion. Not to mention, I was playing it on banjo!

I have always wanted to record a bluegrass album with players that are incredibly passionate about the genre, and know it like the bow of their fiddle or the metal picks on the tops of their fingers…people that have bluegrass in their blood. I had half a dozen bluegrass songs that I had written from several years ago that I restructured or altered for this project. I wrote a few new ones and then we had all of the songs for a new record. I called up Tim (Crouch) and asked him if he would play and co-produce the album with me, and we brought Randy, Clay, and Tony onto the project and recorded it all remotely at the start of 2021. It’s pretty cool because it sounds like we were all playing in the same room, despite being over 15,000 kms away.”

Have a listen…

Whittling Away will be available September 10 on Yep Roc Records from popular download and streaming sites online. The Scrapbook is set for release on September 24, with pre-orders for both downloads and CDs enabled on the Angus Gill web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.