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VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Scottish Diaspora: The Music And The Song

VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Scottish Diaspora: The Music And The Song
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX380

In a beautifully rich, diverse and colourful counterpart to the Scottish diaspora tapestry, Greentrax have searched their catalogue to present a stirring array of Scots music. Old and new, men and women, Gaelic and English, traditional and contemporary, solo, group and choir all find a place here. The bulk of the tracks are of song, with few instrumentals, including a set by Natalie MacMaster. Their moods swing from joy to sorrow, from anguish to triumph, wistfulness to exuberance.

There is room for a Kriol version of Waltzing Matilda, an Indian version of Auld Lang Syne, a Stan Rogers traditional song (Scarborough Settler’s Lament), tales about Corby and Canada and several lyrical biographies of historical characters. Idiosyncrasies blend with song standards.

The McCalmans, Margaret Stewart, Brian McNeil, Dick Gaughan, Robin Laing and Donnie Munro are all included twice or more, as is Allan Mills.

A fascinating and comprehensive booklet accompanies the music, with delightful pen-portraits of the singers and the subject matter of the songs. We learn about John Muir and Mary Slessor, General Tam Dalyell and the gold prospector from St Kilda, of emigration and enterprise, love and work. Pictures of the parts of the diaspora tapestry bring additional colour.

No double CD can entirely capture a complete genre, but Greentrax manage as much as is possible. The variety and depth of Scots creativity is on display and provides a multi-faceted character portrait. Informative and educational, but above all, an entrancing listen, The Scottish Diaspora will grace any CD collection.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.