MIKE Scott is looking forward to these dates. Having spent the summer on the festival circuit, The Waterboys’ appearance at Skye Live will be the first opportunity for a pre-set band jam in eight weeks.

Calling from Dublin where he has been based since 2016, Scott sounds as warm as you’d expect Edinburgh-born rock romantic to be.

There’s a spark of genuine excitement too.

“We love our soundchecks,” he says. “It’s a time where we can just play for fun.”

Recent years have seen Scott scale another peak in his 40-year music career, with May’s Where The Action Is following top ten 2017 double LP Out Of All This Blue and 2015’s acclaimed Modern Blues.

That’s an album a year of work consistent with his status as one of the best British songwriters around.

“I tend to work every day when I am at home,” he says. “It’s all one unbroken stream of work.

“Of course, I’m also really lucky in being surrounded by really great musicians.”

Scott, who formed The Waterboys in London in 1981, has always described the band as his project backed by “whoeverare my current travelling musical companions”.

Dozens have featured over the decades, with fiddler Steve Wickham currently being honoured on the band’s website with a playlist curated by Scott spanning 35 years of work.

The line-up has been fairly solid in recent years, with keyboardist Brother Paul, bassist Aongus Ralston, drummer Ralph Salmins and vocalists Zeenie Summers and Jess Kavanagh joining Wickham and Scott.

“Ralph has played with us for 10 years – a long time for a Waterboy,” Scott says. “They are all very versatile musicians, all of them. If I want to go and play funky, they can come with me. If we want to play balls out rock and roll, they’ll come with me.”

Subtitled “an entertainment in sound” Where The Action Is has a broad reach.

In the intimate, soulful chanson of lead single Right Side Of Heartbreak (Wrong Side Of Love) and the wrenching, Edith Piaf-style And There’s Love, you cannot help but picture cabaret queen Camille O’Sullivan, Scott’s former partner and mother of his daughter.

He now also has a son with Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, his wife since 2016.

The album’s final track is Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, a ten-minute arrangement with Scott reading Kenneth Grahame’s chapter of the same name from The Wind In The Willows. Preceding it is Then She Made The Lasses-O, a version of one of Burns’ “most famous pop hits”.

“Years ago Deacon Blue did a very wonderful version of an arrangement by Michael Marra,” he explains. “I thought the way Ricky Ross sang it was beautiful. I had learnt it, just to sing myself at parties really, and ended up recording it.

“I listened to Ricky’s version to compare it, to hear if my version was too similar. But I found that, over the years I had changed the melody, the phrasing and had made it my own. Though I love Ricky’s version, I’m glad that mine is different.”

The album begins with a power double punch: a peppy rock take on Robert Parker’s 1960s northern soul classic Where The Action Is and London Mick, a stuttering tribute to Mick Jones.

Scott shared a manager with The Clash man in the early 1980s and recounts the same era in upbeat piano number Ladbrooke Grove Symphony.

But even when dealing with potentially nostalgic material, what strikes is the energy and vitality of these songs.

“I’ve always put the music first,” says the 60-year-old. “Even if it might seem a weird thing to do at the time, I’ll go where the music is going. That’s why it is always fresh for me.”