Link to Living Tradition Homepage





TOM CLELLAND - Handpicked & Collected 

TOM CLELLAND - Handpicked & Collected 
Modestine MODESTINE002 

This is a double compilation CD from the Scottish singer songwriter, showcasing examples of his work from previous albums and other projects. It has a laid-back, gentle feel throughout, making the most of Tom’s easy style of delivery, warm familiar-feeling voice and nicely finger-picked guitar.

The first disc, Handpicked, features eight “story songs”, some from his own albums along with one from a Lanarkshire Songwriters project, a live recording from a David Roberts tribute evening in the Elphinstone, and an unreleased song, Berries, that’s got a familiar, folky vibe to it – a song I can definitely imagine being picked up and sung by others.

The second CD, Collected, boasts 15 songs from previous albums, Little Stories, Life Goes On and Next Time, as well as a track from A Garden Of Songs, adapted from a Robert Louis Stevenson poem. This CD has a bit more of a country / Americana feel to it in places, and includes a great song, I Wish That I Could Write Like Old Guy Clark (don’t we all!). Ironically, it actually does sound like it could be a Guy Clark song, as do a couple of others here (e.g. Jack Jackson and Slip Away), so Tom’s not doing so badly.

Tom and his guitar are front and centre in these recordings, but he has gathered a fine group of other musicians around him, and their contributions are sensitively made. They include Clive Gregson and Steven Polwart on guitars, Wendy Weatherby on cello, Mairearad Green on pipes and accordion, and producer/arranger Davie Scott on “all other instruments” and occasional harmonies.

I love the honest sentiment of Next Time and Let It Snow, the wry observation of life in Slow Down, the storytelling of The Grassmarket Butchers and The Devil And The Hangman, and the clever lines in Country Music Once Again (“don’t let those fiddles turn to violins.”). I’d happily spend an evening in the company of Tom and his songs in a folk club somewhere, when we finally can.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 140 of The Living Tradition magazine