FOR the man behind debut CD In A Fragile World, all roads lead to Eden Court Theatre.
Having spent a career travelling round Central London and the M25 with his courier business, Paul Hope took the high road back to the Highlands seven and a half years ago.
Though from Sussex, he’d first experienced the area as a youngster.
"It was 1976 – a wonderful hot summer – when my family came up on holiday to Aviemore. We walked to the top of Carn Ban Mor – and there was snow.
"When you are 10 years old and you see snow in the middle of June, it makes an impression!"
Years of family holidays cemented Paul’s love of the area – and his plan to head there one day.
He has always been a songwriter, but it wasn’t until he moved north that the idea for The Project – and album In A Fragile World – came together.
"I’ve been writing since the early 90s and have 60 or 70 other tracks ready to go.
"But it was one of those things where I felt if I didn’t do it now, I would never do it."
Finding musicians to help bring his songs to life might have been hard, if Paul hadn’t found them – at his workplace, Eden Court.
It started with Kevin Douglas.
"I met Kevin first," recalled Paul. "He was very keen – and was an extremely good guitarist – and because we work in the same place and we don’t do nine to five, it made it a bit easier to meet up and play."
Eden Court colleague Jannah Main joined as singer, but finding a female vocalist to sing his song Leaving Stromness took a little longer – as Paul wanted the song to be sung in Gaelic.
He got a translation from theatre outreach worker Roddy Nicolson – and then discovered that Kathleen Cronie – also an Eden Court staff member – could and would sing the song in Gaelic with The Project.
"I’d been wanting to do a song in Gaelic and then found Kathleen and I asked Roddy if he’d translate the song for me."
Paul who isn’t a Gaelic speaker himself, explained: "I don’t speak Gaelic, but I love the sound of it.
"It’s like listening to opera in Italian – I don’t understand it, but it sounds beautiful and if you translate it into English it kind of loses something."
With the theatre at the core of The Project, it’s easy to see why Paul’s partner Sara came up with the perfect name for the group.
Paul said: "It’s P for Paul, R for bassist Roddie McLaggan and J for Jannah with Eden Court Theatre – ECT making up the word!"
Paul talked about some of the other songs on the album.
"The Sons Of The Atacama is about a film I saw here at Eden Court called Nostalgia For The Night, it’s a South American film with three parts. Firstly, there are guys with a huge telescope looking for new galaxies in Chile’s Atacama desert, the second part is about the ladies looking for the remains of their sons who were killed by Pinochet and the third part of the film brings both groups together.
"We’ve had a couple of plays on North Highland Radio in Alness and this week Leaving Stromness was on Radio Nan Gaidheal."
There’s also some feedback from The Project’s Soundcloud page where you can listen to their songs.
Paul said: "In Your Eyes is the song that people seem to be really enjoying – it’s had over 100 plays. And there are about 850 plays for all the songs up there."
The Project went to record at Unity Studios in Auldearn with Joe Harfield producing and recorded an impressive 12 tracks in two days.
"I heard the mix about 3,000 times afterwards and then went back to Joe and we tweaked little bits," said Paul.
"But the two days just went by in a blink."
Sadly, it’s unlikely for the moment, that we’ll see the group present In A Fragile World’s songs live.
Paul said: "It’s quite hard to get us all together because of our work commitments. And a couple of the original people – Kathleen and Jannah – are moving on, though we think we might have found someone to sing with us in the coming months.
"We hope to play live in August."
The venue? Eden Court.
In A Fragile World by The Project (£10) is available by going to: www.facebook.com/paulhope and accessing the Facebook Project page. It is also on sale at Green Kite Trading in Strathpeffer Old Railway Station and Tony’s Sandwich Bar on Alness High Street. You can listen on Soundcloud (theproject1) and on Reverbnation.