Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Holiday Gift Ideas: 3 New Recordings

Music: it is part of the holidays, and part of every day.

Music is also a great gift, one which may be enjoyed alone or in company.

Winter is often a time for gift giving. I’ve ideas to help with that, which will unfold over several pieces i the upcoming days.

Some will be from artists you have met here along the Music Road, while others will be projects you will learn more about in the coming months.

They are all well worth your time, and you may find something for yourself as well as those on your gift lists. There will be a bit of seasonal music upcoming, in another story too.

To begin, here are three newer albums to get you started on your holiday gift explorations

You’ve met the Spell Songs folk here before: inspired by art form Jackie Morris and words from Robert Macfarlane in the book The Lost Words, they created a mystical, magical collection of music celebrating nature -- calling parts of the natural world that were mean to to be forgotten back to life, as it were. The artists -- JIm Molyneux, Bath Porter, Julie Fowlis, Rachel Newton, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, and Karine Polwart -- are back with a Spell Songs II: Let the Light In. The mystery, the magic, and the great music continue.

Speaking of magic: in times when touring has been restricted or non-existent. musicians faced all kinds of challenges in keeping their lives, their creativity, and their music going. One way Sarah McQuaid decided to do this was to record live (although without an audience other than those making the recording) in a place she knows well, a historic church not far from where McQuaid lives in Cornwall. “We set her up as if it were a regular gig,” Sarah’s manager and sound engineer, Martin Stansbury told Hot Press. He and Sarah knew it would make a fine setting for a live recording, while engaging their creativity in ways both new and familiar. Indeed it does, and the result is well worth repeated listening. The album is called The Saint Buryan Sessions.

The musicians who make up the band Staran had their own recording challenges, too. They are a recently formed group, brought together by keyboard player John Lowrie. He had worked with fiddler Jack Smedley, guitarist Innes White, bass player James Lindsay, and singer Kim Carnie on other projects but the five had not played together as a five piece. With limited opportunities to gather in person, they nevertheless came up with an excellent debut album. It includes original tunes as well as song in both English and Gaelic. They decided to call it Staran after the band, whose name means path or stepping stone in Scottish Gaelic.

Stay along the music road for more gift ideas to come as this winter holiday season unfolds.

You may also enjoy
About the first Spell Songs recording
If you are considering late autumn, Thanksgiving in the US, Saint Andrew’s day in Scotland: Music for Autumn’s Landscapes at Wandering Educators offer good things to explore
Another holiday gift list from a few years back at Perceptive Travel. Music for many interests...
About the book The Lost Spells

In times when you are able to listen to much music at no cost, if you enjoy this music, I encourage you to help support the work of these artists and the cause of good, thoughtful music everywhere by purchasing their music. Direct purchase from an artist’s site is one way. Bandcamp is also a platform which supports artists’ work.

Speaking of support, if you’re in a position to do so this holiday season, your support for Music Road is most welcome. Here’s one way:

-->Your support for Music Road is welcome and needed. If you are able to chip in, here is a way to do that, through PayPal. Note that you do not have to have a PayPal account to do this. Thank you.

Another way to support: you could Buy Me a Coffee at

If you enjoy what you are reading here, check out my newsletter at Substack for more stories about music, the people who make it and the places which inspire it.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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