New Release: James Yorkston, Nina Persson and The Second Hand Orchestra – The Harmony

Photo credit: Sian Adler

Next Friday sees the release of James Yorkston, Nina Persson and The Second Hand Orchestra’s new album The Great White Sea Eagle. Today, the group share their third song from the record, “The Harmony”.

Yorkston’s and Persson’s voices intertwine over delicate plucking of cello and violin as they sing: “But harmony, it has escaped me, and the world becomes too fast”.

Yorkston and Persson’s favourite song from the record, Yorkston says of “The Harmony”: “This is a duet love song that we recorded one evening, after most of the Second Hand Orchestra had left for home. It has that beautiful woozy sound music has when everything is just working together perfectly. It’s intimate, and a favourite.”

The Great White Sea Eagle follows The Wide, Wide River by James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra. The new record began life in early 2021 when Yorkston starting writing songs on the piano for the first time as he gazed upon the sea outside his Cellardyke studio window.

After sending the first five or six songs to Karl-Jonas Winqvist (the ringleader/conductor of TSHO), they began to discuss working on the music together. With Yorkston’s shift from guitar to piano, they thought about what other changes they could make to their process which led to the involvement of a guest singer and the legendary Nina Persson (The Cardigans) was brought into the fold.

They followed the same methodology as The Wide, Wide River – apart from James, Nina and KJ, none of The Second Hand Orchestra had heard the music prior to entering the studio – and the arrangements were made up on the spot. Yorkston summarises: “Everyone who was playing in The Second Hand Orchestra, in their own way they are all unique and colourful players. There was no-one there who didn’t know what to do. I would bring them the songs, we would start one – I would play it, and second time round people would start singing and playing, and by the time we had done it three or four times we would hit record and we would be ready to go. And the thing that they all had was the ability to give each other space and to come up with their parts based on what other people were playing naturally was a very quick process, and they were all so open, nobody was egotistical. Everything was just happy. I love the wildness in it.”

Whilst there is a lightness in sound to The Great White Sea Eagle, there is a dark humour throughout and the album conveys a rich message about life and grief, family and nature. James’ song for Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, “A Sweetness In You”, being one such moment.

The Great White Sea Eagle follows the release of Yorkston’s second novel The Book of the Gaels, recently declared Book of the Month in The Times.

James Yorkston, Nina Persson and members of The Second Hand Orchestra will be heading out on UK tour next February…

1st February – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen ~
3rd February – Summerhall, Edinburgh ~
4th February – Celtic Connections, Glasgow ~
5th February – Future Yard, Birkenhead ~
6th February – Jazz Café, London ~
7th February – YES, Manchester ~
8th February – The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge ~ (sold out)
9th February – Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick ~
10th February – Louisiana, Bristol ~
11th February – St Stephens in the High Street, Exeter ~
12th February – Komedia Theatre, Brighton ~

~ = James Yorkston, Nina Persson and members of The Second Hand Orchestra