Artist Spotlight | Martin Aelred Colgan & Last Boat to St. Helena

Martin Aelred Colgan is one of those artists who really takes you by surprise. He is an accomplished musician who has had a long and winding career in music to date. Colgan started out fronting bands, before making his production debut with Juni Morrison of P Funk in 1992. He went on to enjoy minor success as a producer with UK artists such as Soul II Soul, Jocelyn Brown and Sinitta.

Colgan’s utmost passion however, seems to be the guitar. Indeed, he went on to study flamenco and classical guitar in Scotland under the teachings of the legendary French virtuoso Manitas de Plata. Not only does he play this instrument, he can also play cello, piano and violin. Not to to mention that he is a trained opera singer who can verse fluently in Italian, Spanish and French.

Martin Aelred Colgan’s latest album is the inspiring Last Boat to St. Helena. The lead track of the same name was inspired by a remote island.

St. Helena Island is a mound of volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about 1,200 miles west of a river on the border of Namibia and Angola and about 1,800 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of the most remote places on earth, so remote even Napoleon Bonaparte—who was exiled here—could not escape from it. Charles Darwin once wrote that the island “rises abruptly like a huge black castle from the ocean.” This sense of isolation was a feeling mirrored by the recent pandemic, through which Martin Aelred Colgan was writing this album.

Martin speaks about the conception of the lead single:

“Isolation was something I’d never experienced until the evening of March 22, 2020, where from my attic studio I could see the search lights of police helicopters over the Glasgow skyline. Coincidentally I was working on the remix of Last Boat to St. Helena, a tiny island which oddly enough had spent its whole life in isolation so I reckon I wasn’t to be totally alone that first night of lockdown.”

For most, St. Helena was accessible only by the RMS St. Helena, a unique cargo-passenger ship. She was also one of the last working Royal Mail ships in the world. Since 1990, the ship arrived from Cape Town once every three weeks, and from Essex in England once every six weeks. But that changed on 10 February 2018 when the last boat to the island sailed. The RMS St. Helena served its namesake faithfully, and since the opening of an airport on the island was no longer needed.

Standout tracks on the album include the breathtaking ‘Aurora’ with its mesh of Spanish guitar melodies, and ‘Flame’ with its nostalgic feel-good vibe; a rich tapestry of guitar, vocal and percussion. Let’s not forget the evocative instrumental tone poem, ‘Essencia’, either.

Watch the beautiful lyric video for this lead track below:

Stream the full album from Martin Aelred Colgan here:

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