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GILLEBRIDE MACMILLAN - Freumhan Falaichte (Hidden Roots) 

GILLEBRIDE MACMILLAN - Freumhan Falaichte (Hidden Roots) 
Private Label DEALAS002 

South Uist singer, songmaker, poet and writer Gillebride’s latest album, unlike its two predecessors, consists of 11 brand new original songs, all written and sung in his native Gaelic. Outlander author Diana Gabaldon puts his role as a real-life modern-day bard into context in her generous foreword to the copious booklet that accompanies this disc, which also includes notes, full texts and translations. Although this information will prove essential to non-Gaelic speakers, there’s still abundant musical and melodic interest in these songs, and Gillebride has enlisted a stellar line-up of musicians to realise his vision, including Ewan MacPherson, Fraser Fifield, Natalie Haas, Anna-Wendy Stevenson, Donald Hay and Mhairi Hall, whose clear-sighted production enables integration of words, melody and arrangement.

Gillebride’s songs embody his credo - that Gaelic is alive and vibrant, and that new compositions in the language are vital to its regeneration in giving voice to the most pressing social and political issues of our day. Thus, subjects tackled on this disc include autism, being a carer, the plight of the refugee, and the perennial, blind insistence of world leaders to view war as the only route to peace. In parallel, Gillebride acknowledges the continuing importance of the ancient bardic traditions, the concept of the family tree in connection with patronymics. Am Bàl and Dileab both beautifully convey romantic love.

Gillebride’s singing voice possesses the styling of the traditional Gaelic singers, yet his arrangements are both mellow and contemporary in mood and refreshingly inventive. Thus, his music gives us the best of both worlds.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.