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Kirsten Adamson: Daughter of Big Country legend Stuart reveals how motherhood let her see dad’s music in a new light

Dunfermline-raised musician Kirsten was born at the peak of her late father's fame; now that she's a parent too, her dad's songs have taken on a new meaning.

Kirsten Adamson as a child with her late father, Big Country legend Stuart Adamson; and right, now. Image: Supplied.
Kirsten Adamson as a child with her late father, Big Country legend Stuart Adamson; and right, now. Image: Supplied.

Big Country star Stuart Adamson’s daughter Kirsten says parenthood has helped her see her late father’s music in a new light.

The Dunfermline-raised performer was born at the peak of her late father’s fame, in 1985.

And her first professional singing experience came back in 1999 when she provided backing vocals on Big Country’s final album Driving To Damascus.

Fast-forward 25 years and she’s looking ahead to a busy spell with her own band The Tanagers, while also paying homage to her dad’s astonishing musical legacy.

And she reveals it was having her own son Sid, who’s now five, that prompted her to reflect on her dad Stuart’s time as a musician with young children.

“I hadn’t ever really gone through my dad’s material since he passed away,” the singer explains.

“He became a parent fairly young, at 24 or 25, which is much younger than I became a mother at.

“So when I started going back to these lyrics I was definitely seeing them as a parent, for sure.”

Until she had Sid, Kirsten admits she didn’t want to dwell too much on past events, including her father’s traumatic death in 2001.

Stuart Adamson at HMV in London, 1990.

“When you’re in your 20s, you’re out living life,” she says. “Or given what I’d gone through as a kid, trying to. I think through my 20s I didn’t try and reflect on things too much.

“But certainly when you have kids you start to become more nostalgic and more interested in looking back on how your life became what it was,” she observes.

“And how you can make that different for your own children.”

Kirsten Adamson writing ‘more than ever’

The insights she’s gained from parenthood inspired much of Kirsten’s long-awaited second album Landing Place, which was released last year.

And she’s on a real roll as she hones material for a follow-up.

“Now, especially, I’m writing more than I ever did,” she tells me.

Kirsten Adamson has been inspired by the experience of motherhood. Image: John Mackie.

“Because I took the plunge and became a full-time songwriter and touring musician, it means that when I’m home I’m not working a day job.

“I’ve got this time in the week where Sid is at school and I’m probably writing as much as I ever did.

“So the next recording is going to be in the fall of this year and will hopefully be out next year at some point.”

Kirsten paying homage to dad’s Big Country legacy

Last year Kirsten treated the backers who crowdfunded Landing Place to a digital EP made up of eight live versions of Stuart’s songs – Adamson Sings Adamson.

She also dropped a digital cover of Big Country’s epic single Peace In Our Time.

Kirsten says she considered including at least one Big Country cover on Landing Place, before ultimately deciding against it.

Big Country: Mark Brzezicki, Stuart Adamson, Bruce Watson. Image: Ilpo Musto/Shutterstock.

“There was maybe talk of it before we started recording,” she explains.

“Once my producer Dean Owens and I sat down and started talking about what it was that I wanted to say, we realised that actually my songs said it the best.

“And that maybe an album’s worth of my dad’s material might be a good idea at a later point.”

‘Motherhood changes everything’ says singer

It’s that desire to “say it best” that has seen Kirsten’s songwriting go into overdrive since Sid’s arrival.

“Motherhood does change you, but ultimately I always had music in me,” she declares.

“And I think to be the best parent and example that you can be you have to go back to the thing you love as well.

Kirsten Adamson says being a musician has become even more important since she became a mother. Image: Supplied.

“Without that you’re not really the person that you want to be, so motherhood changes everything, your whole life.

“Everything is centred around your child and I think that’s really the reason I wanted to make my music work.

“The main reason is I love it, but I also want to set an example for Sid, so he knows that he can do exactly what he wants to do and be successful at it.”

PJ Molloys gig will be ‘homecoming’

Named after a variety of bird that folklore salutes as a spiritual messenger from heaven, The Tanagers formed around 18 months ago.

Also featuring guitarist Jon Mackenzie, drummer Scott Forsyth and bassist Richard Anderson, the country-influenced outfit have stepped up their live activities in recent months.

And as she gears up for a show at hometown venue PJ Molloys, Kirsten admits it’ll be something of a homecoming.

“When we were young we used to go and see our friends’ covers bands play there and go on nights out at PJ’s when I lived in Dunfermline,” says Kirsten.

Kirsten Adamson hailed PJ Molloys as ‘a good night’. Image: Supplied.

“I used to get up with Stevie Agnew and do some harmonies for him. He’s very much a well-known character on the Dunfermline music scene and he was the first person I ever gigged with.

“I think I was about 15 or something when I started doing some gigs with Stevie so the venue holds good memories of friendship. And since moving to Edinburgh nearly 20 years ago I’ve been back numerous times to play gigs.

“It’s always a good night at PJ’s. It’s a nice vibe in there – as nice as Dunfermline gets, anyway!” she laughs. “I can say that, because I’m from there!”

Kirsten Adamson and The Tanagers play PJ Molloys on May 31 2024.

She will also appear at Kirkcaldy King’s Theatre on June 22 as a member of Rezillos legend Fay Fife’s band Countess Of Fife before joining Dean Owens and  Matt Joe Gow for a Roots In The Round songwriter’s circle gig at the same venue on July 12.