As a musician Adam Ross has had his fair share of reviews – mainly good ones for the songwriter behind Randolph’s Leap.
However, some of his fiercest criticism has been levelled at his new charity-themed single. Not however, as you’d expect, from music journalists, but climate change-denying online trolls, seemingly up in arms about ‘Christmas Burn It All’, a fundraiser for Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Comments that “were ostensibly about the song,” it turns out, harboured a more sinister agenda.
“The people posting these comments had links to spurious climate sceptic websites, videos etc,” Ross says. “It’s pretty mental how much suppressed rage there is out there for something as wholesome as a pro-planet charity Christmas single.”
Perhaps this critical experience will have justified the cynicism in the single’s lyrics – the Band Aid-style opening line “It’s Christmas time and all your heroes are dead” preceding a roundup of 2019, taking in Heathrow drone incidents, Brexit,climate protests and the usual passing of celebrities.”
“It’s a slightly nihilistic ‘goodbye and good riddance’ to 2019,” recounts the song’s lyricist, “and a tentative hint at optimism for the new decade.”
“I was keen to round off a slightly chaotic 2019 by doing something positive for the environment,” the Nairn-born songwriter continues. “As a musician it can be hard to offset the carbon impact of your own constant travelling or trying to move beyond the abundance of plastic cups and water bottles in music venues.
“The natural world plays an important role in my songwriting,” Ross adds, “and Friends of the Earth are doing a great mixture of work on climate and other environmental issues.”
Also doing their bit for the planet are the “Olive Grove All-Star” choir, consisting of artists from the record label – including Scottish Album of the Year nominee Carla J. Easton, plus members of Broken Chanter, Pocket Knife, Campfires in Winter, The State Broadcasters and Henry & Fleetwood.
And, record label boss Lloyd Meredith makes his recording debut – singing quietly somewhere at the back of the choir. “Nobody needs to hear that!” he laughs, the label boss concentrating instead on the organisation of the project. “It was actually pretty easy to rope in folk to be involved. Everyone we asked seemed really up for it, which was pretty impressive considering we were dragging them from their warm houses to spend a cold Tuesday night in November singing a festive song.”
Of course, since the record’s release, the need for action on the climate emergency may have increased, with the new government’s policies unclear at best.“The fact that Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to turn up for Channel 4’s climate debate (famously being replaced by an ice sculpture) tells you all you need to know,” says Ross.
Randoph’s Leap will release a new album in 2020, alongside the remainder of the ‘Archipelago’ series of Olive Grove 12” split EPs featuring the likes of Henry & Fleetwood and Jo Mango.
But despite the negativity from some quarters, Ross and Meredith haven’t been put off the idea of a future charity release. However, they’re unsure what they could do that wouldn’t upset anyone.
“After the week we’ve just had it seems like there are people out there prepared to argue against anything and everything, ”Ross reflects. “You’d think that helping the planet which we all rely on would be a safe bet, but no. You’d think that campaigning for less inequality would be a vote winner, but no.
“I genuinely believe that most people are craving optimism though, I’m just not sure we’re very good at looking for it in the right places.”
‘Christmas, Burn It All’ is out now with proceeds donated to Friends of the Earth Scotland – see randolphsleap.bandcamp.com.