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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Scotia Nova  Songs For The Early Days Of A Better Nation

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Scotia Nova Songs For The Early Days Of A Better Nation
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX387

This Greentrax compilation brings together 18 Scots songwriters, invited by a panel to pen their views on the aftermath of Scotland’s Independence Referendum and the country’s future prospects.

Male vocalists and guitar accompaniment feature strongly throughout the 18 tracks. Four songs were written by women, namely Gill Bowman’s sweet melodic A Bonny Star, Yvonne Lyon’s metaphoric The Road Is Still Leading Us On, Fiona Mackenzie – singing the only Gaelic song, unaccompanied - and Mairi Campbell, with the highlight of the album. Her co-composition with Dave Francis, sung in dialect, is grounded in earthy authenticity, acute perception, and brings warmth to a cold reality.

Other features include Brian McNeill, with an impassioned protest song of old, concerning croft land, and an Ian McCalman song – he also produced the album. The Pioneers by Duncan McCrone and Cy Jack focuses on the struggles and integration of Indian immigrants who have contributed so much to Scotland.

Various topics are covered elsewhere, ranging from reconciliation, commonality, optimism, poverty (exemplified in Scott Murray’s Duke Street To Jericho) and exile. There is still the hint of a search for a coherent national identity. One punk rock track is included!

As ever with Greentrax, an excellent booklet is included, with thumbnail sketches of the artistes and songs, and full lyrics.

An innovative and ambitious concept, Scotia Nova places emphasis on the importance of songs and songwriters as sounding boards for a nation’s mood. The songs are markers for the skills and standards to be expected of prospective songwriters.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.