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SAM SHACKLETON - Causeway Recordings 

SAM SHACKLETON - Causeway Recordings 
Private Label 

Sam, who may be known to some by his moniker, Sorley The Bard, is a Scottish songwriter currently living in Edinburgh and this, his debut album, was recorded during lockdown in his flat in Causewayside. Entirely self-recorded, it features himself on guitar, banjo, harmonica and vocals, and comprises 10 original and three traditional songs. With a Masters degree in Scottish Ethnology from the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh Uni, and having been mentored by some good traditional musicians, Sam says he has been inspired by the oral traditions of Scotland, Ireland and the USA. On this CD, the influence of the latter is perhaps heard more keenly – the tracks sit somewhere between folk, country and old time in their style, albeit with a very Scottish accent!

The album opens strongly with Scottish Cowboy, perhaps the best of the original songs here, with a definite Hank Williams feel. It’s got some great lyrics, and a fun, smile-inducing vibe. Later, his Pink Collar Blues is very reminiscent of Cash’s rendition of Boy Named Sue (had it been written in Scotland), sung in a similar style, though the misery in this song is caused by a somewhat different situation. The three traditional songs (Cuckoo Bird, Gambling Davey and House Carpenter) are handled really well, and are definite disc highlights. Very old time in style, and accompanied by a great clawhammer banjo, the three have been subtly altered to fit this Scottish setting, “as is natural with the ever-changing carrying stream of folk tradition,” says Sam. I like that he has made them his own, complete with plenty of shouts of “Yeah, man!”.

Sam sounds like he is having a good time here, and it’s infectious. A feel-good album, and an artist that could easily find his place in a folk club setting if that is the direction he should choose to take.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine