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NICK KEIR - 1953-2013

NICK KEIR - 1953-2013
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX397

Just four years since his passing, Greentrax present a double CD anthology featuring 37 tracks, mostly taken from Nick’s four solo albums, with 13 McCalmans contributions. Hearing these songs together is a poignant reminder of Keir’s boundless talent as a songwriter. The album kicks off with his Festival Lights, a song with such local popularity that its words adorn the walls of the Royal Oak in Edinburgh, and sets the scene for a compendium of themed songs that, in part, reflect the itinerant touring activities of the Macs – taking in Applecross, Islay, Fife and Lewis – but primarily his home turf of Edinburgh. In fact, I’d be hard pushed to come up with another songwriter who had a larger repertoire of songs about Scotland’s capital.

CD2 opens with Nick’s Corryvreckan Calling, probably his second most covered song, and leads us through Beatles tributes and more meanders through Fife (Ainster Harbour) and his beloved East Lothian (White Horses) but also featuring some of his most tender songs (Loves The Rising Sun and The Heart). Hearing these songs, and hearing Nick’s personable voice and delicate guitar playing, is truly moving – and at the same time uplifting. I’m always saddened when artistes don’t get their due recognition in their lifetime (particularly when they are taken from us too soon) but if there’s any justice, this 2 CD collection will redress the balance and act as a lasting legacy to a (mostly) unsung hero, who was a true gent and a gentle soul who touched so many. I was present at his last performance (at Falkirk Folk Club), just weeks before he left us and am reminded of that night by this album, which reaches out to all of us.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.