Saturday, November 28, 2009

Music for St Andrew's Day: music of Scotland

Saint Andrew’s Day, November 30th, is a holiday that’s close to home for every Scot, at home and abroad, and even more so in this year of Homecoming Scotland. There are concerts, light shows, and celebrations of all sorts, and a general throwing wide the doors to the winter holidays. From the northern isles to the western ones, from Lerwick to Galloway and Oban to Aberdeen, it’s a time of festivity. If you’d like music to go along -- or perhaps delight the Scots on your Christmas list -- here are several ideas.

Capercaillie Roses and Tears

Capercaille is one of the best loved and indeed most musically adventurous of Scottish bands. They've taken their musical tastes all across the world, For this recording, though, they bring things back home, focusing on music in English and Scots Gaelic that holds close to the Atlantic fringe where most of the band members grew up. Outstanding instrumental tracks from the band and fine vocals from Karen Matheson show the group in top form. Notable cuts include the Gaelic groove of Him Bo and the anti war song Don’t You Go.

Lauren MacColl Strewn With Ribbons

Fiddler Lauren MacColl has a sure touch and a distinctive tone, and she’s a flair for graceful composition and song selection, as well. Here she draws from music collected and composed by four musicians from her native Ross-shire area, mixed with her own pieces. It’s a fine work in which you can almost hear the voices of the hills. Barry Reid on guitar and Mhairi Hall on piano, who usually work with MacColl in concert, add to the music with their creative support for MacColl’s fiddle lines.

Eddi Reader Sings The Songs Of Robert Burns

Indeed she does. Reader has said that she wanted to present Burns conversationally, as things might be if you happened into a pub in his times. She has done that, and offers the songs in such a way that they are conversational to today as well. There’s one non Burns song, Wild Mountainside by John Douglas, which is a real standout its own. There’s an extended version of the recording with tracks collected from other projects, which is worth seeking out, but the original release stands fine on its own as well.

Julie Fowlis, Eamon Doorley, Ross Martin, and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

Astute readers will note that this appears on my suggestions for Irish music for your holiday gift list, as well. That’s because it’s an exploration of the connections and intersections of songs in irish and Scots Gaelic. It’s a very fine project, one you’ll be well able to enjoy whether you understand a word of either language ot not.
more about that here

Jim Malcolm First Cold Day

Not for nothing has Perthshire native Jim Malcolm been given top honors in Scotland as both singer and songwriter. He’s also a fine song picker too, as for example with the first track on the collection, The Valley of Strathmore, a reflective, haunting ballad of regret by Andy M Stewart. The original An Hour in the Gloaming is a tribute to Robert Burns and to the joys of fishing that you have to be neither a fisherperson nor a poet to enjoy. Down in Alabam is a funny take on some of the food Malcolm has encountered on his travels in the southern United States, while Schiehallion grew out of a project he did with Perthshire School children.

You may also wish to see

Emily Smith: Too Long Away

season of change: music for autumn

malinky: flower & iron

Eddi Reader, Emily Smith, Robert Burns

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the Burns songs CD - that is such a terrific idea.

12:38 PM  
Blogger ReadyMom said...

I've been looking to expand my music interests and listen to new styles and artists. These are great suggestions.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Stephanie - said...

I just passed this off to a friend of mine. :)

2:34 PM  
Anonymous job said...

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10:44 PM  

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