‘Norman is one of these performers that offers up something a little quirkier than the normal singer/songwriter stuff… a few yarns about things you’d never think to write about, a few animal puns, and a healthy dose of not taking yourself too seriously, mixed with a deep cohenesque vocal and some super catchy hooks.’ (Hannah O’Reilly)
Norman Lamont has been delighting audiences on the Edinburgh songwriter scene since 1990. His trademarks are the diversity of his musical styles, emotionally honest lyrics and a droll sense of humour.
His 2004 album The Wolf Who Snared the Moon featured audience favourites like the award-winning Ballad of Bob Dylan and ranged in style from the epic strings of the title track to the haunting and mysterious atmosphere of A Forest Trail in Autumn. Between 2005 and 2007 he released two Romantic Fiction EPs, the second of which featured another stage favourite Nicole. In 2008 he produced the dark and moody collection called Roadblock. His 2010 release was Waveforms, an album of ambient instrumentals. In 2013 he offered his first Edinburgh Fringe show Stories My Killer Told Me.
A new collection of songs, All The Time in Heaven, came out in April 2014 – you can hear it here and he plays the Acoustic Music Centre at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 9, 10 and 11 (more about the Fringe show).
What’s your musical background? When I was a young child, the music in the house tended to be Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, the George Mitchell Singers and some Scottish traditional music, particularly Burns songs. I was about 10 when I started following the charts. I used to lie in my bed at night and sing the whole top 20 – vocal and intrumental parts – until silenced by my parents. As a teenager my musical heroes were at opposite ends of a very long pole – The Incredible String Band at one extreme and King Crimson at the other. Over the years I’ve tended to follow lyricists more than performers, particularly Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Lou Reed and particularly now The Handsome Family.
With The Wolf you had hardly any songs about love, then you put out the two Romantic Fiction EPs which you called ‘you and I’ CDs I didn’t notice that about The Wolf until it was finished and was quite happy about that because I was sensitive about the way a ‘you and I’ song tends to sound as if it’s autobiographical. But I realised I had a lot of good songs of that ilk in the back catalogue so the title Romantic Fiction was there to distance the characters from me. It seemed important at the time, doesn’t really matter now.
The Wolf and Roadblock seem to touch on religious ideas without being specific. Do you have an agenda? No, I’m too much of a fan of ‘oblique’ writers for that. I’ve always liked the way Richard Thompson and Leonard Cohen write what seem to be love songs but can be interpreted as hymns or other spiritual expressions. It’s a very old tradition and one I’d like to be part of. The songs Come With Me and Fingerpuppet both show the influence of Zen Buddhism.
What do you prefer – the live gig or the recording process? They both have their rewards and frustrations. More and more, though, I feel more of the frustrations when recording and get more of the reward when playing live.
You work in training for a big company. Do a SWOT analysis on Norman Lamont’s music Strengths – melody, accessibility, depth, humour Weaknesses – overdiversification (like that’s going to change!) Opportunities – the internet, the band Threats – too many excellent people in Edinburgh competing in the same market.
Why overdiversification? I don’t get to like anything deeply without wanting to do it. Waveforms came out of my love of Robert Fripp’s soundscapes. I enjoy playing bass so when people like Fiona Thom ask me to do that I’m always there. It all dilutes my focus on Norman songs but it’s all music and I wouldn’t be without it. Given more time I’d be doing traditional folk, cajun/bluegrass and old fashioned reggae on different nights.