Songs from Jimi's latest album have been setting the mood for a new TV drama series about the Border Reivers and their legacy.
'Hills Where I Began' is the first of two releases planned by Jimi this year inspired by the Scottish Borders where he grew up.
Featuring original songs and also reinterpretations of traditional Border ballads, at first listen Jimi's latest offering marks quite a departure from previous instrumental releases.
Pipes still feature in the mix, however, they are not the centre piece of the music anymore. Like the Border ballads Jimi's new songs are driven by lyrics.
The proposed new TV drama series has been
conceived and co-written by acclaimed Scottish director
Justin Molotnikov whose recent CV includes 'Outlander', 'Poldark', 'Dr Who' and 'Merlin'.
Jimi and Justin first met at primary school in Galashiels, Glendinning Terrace primary school in the town's old 'Fifth ward'.
Justin moved to Kelso in his early teens, however, their paths crossed again in Edinburgh in the 1990's when Justin was starting out on his career as a director and Jimi was making his mark with the pipes.
Later on, and both now parents, they discovered they were living within half a mile of each other near Loanhead, Midlothian. The bonds of friendship were renewed.
"We'd meet up occasionally for a wander in the Pentland and Border hills when time allowed" said Jimi. "Justin was always interested in what I was up to musically and I enjoyed hearing about his latest filming exploits. Nice to have a connection like that with someone you went to primary school with".
One day Justin asked Jimi if he could recommend any music about the Border Reivers. "He said he was gathering ideas for a script and was interested in music he could listen to which might help set the tone" said Jimi.
"I recommended a few artists, some contemporary, some from further back like the Corries. Next time we met up he said he'd listened to them but was unimpressed. None of my suggestions cut it for him. 'Why don't you have a go' he said."
So Jimi went to work in his DIY home recording studio producing a couple of demos which Justin loved.
"Straight away I decided to go for a rocky vibe, a wee bit bad-ass with a swagger perhaps" said Jimi. "The Reivers certainly had a swagger to them according to contemporary acccounts and they were hardened and very tough, what some folk might describe nowadays as bad-assed!"
Jimi called upon another old friend, Edinburgh and Fife guitar maestro Neil Warden, to add his talents to the creative process and the music really began to flow.
To date Neil and Jimi have written and arranged 14 songs together, with more music on the way. Six of the tracks feature on 'Hills Where I Began'. A second release is planned, hopefully before Christmas.
"Neil has been making a lot of great music with slide guitar in recent years" added Jimi. "I had a hunch his sound would really lend itself to the project, hopefully adding to the 'Wild West' vibe.
"Arguably the Reivers were the original cowboys. Indeed a number their descendants went on to become notorious cowboys and outlaws in America. Some even became Presidents!"
For professional recording, Jimi enlisted fellow Gala man, drummer/percussionist and 'Soundstation' studio owner David Little - known as 'Dottle' to many - to help with the
"I'd already recorded three albums with Dottle in Gala and always enjoyed working with him" said Jimi. "He is very experienced in the studio and I think he did a grand job coaxing decent performances out of me."
All songs were recorded, mixed and arranged at Soundstation studios in Galashiels. Final mastering took place at Precise Mastering, Hawick.
'Hills Where I Began' is available to stream and download at Spotify, Itunes, Amazon and other online music stores. Search for Jimi McRae and 'Hills Where I Began'.
Alternatively it can be listened to and downloaded at Jimi's 'Bandcamp' page: https://jimithepipermcrae.bandcamp.com/album/hills-where-i-began
A limited number of old style 'cd' copies have also been pressed. These are available directly from Jimi and via his website www.jimithepiper.co.uk
Justin is currently in Ireland filming a new TV suspense drama. A final draft script of 'Reivers' season one, will be submitted to sponsors/financial backers for approval before the end of the year.
"We've all really enjoyed working on this project and there's still a lot more music to come" said Jimi. "Perhaps a potential backer will love the music as much as Justin does, perhaps not. I do realise there is a pecking order to this type of thing, particularly in Scotland, however, we've all had a great time and hopefully that shines through in the music."
Jimi added: "It's been great going in a new direction, certainly with regards to lyrics. Also, I now have plenty new material to use in music/video projects of my own. Should keep me busy for a wee while!"
Check out https://www.youtube.com/forkyjim for more info.