The Rough Guide To Scottish Music, to be released on 24 February 2014, is dedicated to the new folk scene that radiates from Scotland’s creative core. Scotland’s modern social history has engendered the re-imagining of folk and traditional music to suit life amidst the mountains, on the farm or croft, up the close-stairs of city tenements and now as part of a modern, mobile and cosmopolitan world. This Rough Guide offers a contemporary view of Scotland’s finest folk architects. The album has been compiled by Mary-Ann Turner and comes with a bonus CD from the Scottish sextet Cliar.
Scotland’s music is an evolving story of originality and musicianship evoking life in the highlands and islands, the farm, the tenements and now increasingly the cosmopolitan city streets. Celebrate the contemporary sounds of Lau, Admiral Fallow and Karine Polwart alongside classic craft from The Campbells Of Greepe and Kathleen MacInnes.
Contemporary trio Lau are named after the Orcadian word meaning ‘natural light’ and shed new rays of meaning on the Scottish repertoire. ‘Butcher Boy’ is a brooding track with gentle electronica post-production that subtly extends and warps their guitar, fiddle and accordion tones. Acoustic quartet Salt House sing ‘Katie Cruel’ accompanied by a chilling fiddle that echoes high in its tessitura before looping cellular minimal motifs.
Another traditional re-interpretation is contributed by the multi-generational family ensemble, The Campbells Of Greepe, one of the great dynasties of Gaelic music rooted in a part of the Isle of Skye famed for its musical connections. ‘Sìos Dhan An Abhainn’ is Gaelic reworking of the 1867 African-American spiritual ‘The Good Old Way’, and inspired by the Coen Brothers’ film, ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. Joy Dunlop & Twelfth Day also give us an updated version of the traditionalwaulking(cloth-working) song ‘Faca Sibh Raghaill Na Ailean?’. Driven by its steady beat, you can still imagine the women of the community working the tweed while making this laborious task pass the quicker in song.
Young traditional music champion Rona Wilkie has blended her dual musical heritage in classical and traditional music, working with her Norwegian-Swedish partner Marit Fält’s låtmandola (a ten-string Nordic mandola) and a classical string quartet. Together they explore, in a beautiful slow air and joyous jig, music that belongs to both traditions and to the coastlines either side of the North Sea.
Illustrating the current blurring of borders between Scotland’s folk and indie pop worlds, Glaswegians Admiral Fallow forge a path into this territory with their full-on track ‘The Paper Trench’, with an accessible sound that has seen them tread the UK’s festival stages widely. Dundee’s Anderson McGinty Webster Ward and Fisher have a vocal-rich sound of a similar arc, perhaps indicating that the distance from west to east Scottish coasts are not as transcontinentally American in their dimensions as some Scots would have you believe.