SKERRYVORE - West Coast Life
Skipinnish Records SKIPCD07

I don’t know much about this band except that they look young, are from the Isle of Tiree and come from a long tradition of musicians from that area. A search of the Internet revealed a very interesting article about a preserved lighthouse and where to stay in the area, but very little about this Skerryvore - the band.

So who are Skerryvore? They are four young men comprising the Gillespie brothers, who seem to play too many instruments for it to be healthy - Alec Dalglish on guitar and vocals, with Fraser West on percussion. West Coast Life consists of mostly pipe and accordion led tunes, some familiar and some from Tiree itself, with three songs tucked away in the second half of this CD. I wasn’t sure about the first track as it leans very much towards the Scottish barn dance scene - a kind of music I am not too keen on - but by track three I was beginning to sit up and listen. Daniel Gillespie’s accordion playing reminds me of the great Phil Cunningham which is OK by me. A fine version of Lennon/McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ seems to sit a bit uneasily amongst the more traditional material, but I’m sure fits well into their live set, and shows Alec’s vocals off well. I am not sure about the inclusion of ‘Home To Donegal’, but that is a debate which has been well aired over many, many years - it is a good song though.

The production, recording and mixing show a sympathy with what Skerryvore are about, whilst the CD itself is well packaged - something that is not always the case. The sleeve notes are minimal so the music has to do the talking, which it does quite ably.

Realistically West Coast Life is not going to set the world on fire, but it is a good listen and should sell well at their live performances. I enjoyed it much more the second time of listening and would like to experience their live performance (perhaps someone could organise a tour south of the border). There is a lot to commend this CD. Good luck lads in your efforts to keep the island of Tiree ’s tradition going.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 65 of The Living Tradition magazine.