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Macmeamna SKYECD58

A three-decade gap between solo albums makes even the most reclusive artist look speedy. But Skye native Arthur Cormack has hardly been idle, and has cut a prominent figure in numerous Gaelic and Scottish arts initiatives as well as recording with the groups Cliar and Mac-Talla. This offering is just what its subtitle proclaims: A Collection Of Old And New Gaelic Songs learned from various sources over the years. Old favourites like A Pheigi A Ghràidh sit seamlessly alongside newer compositions from close pal and fellow Skye star, Blair Douglas and others.

The pure, sonorous voice which secured Cormack a Mòd Gold Medal at the tender age of 18 suits the songs of longing and poignancy with which the Gaelic canon abounds: the heartsore A Nochd Gur Faoin Mo Chadal Dhomh and the bereavement of Cha Tig Mòr Mo Bhean Dhachaigh. But there’s a sense of comradeship and sport too, as Arthur is sensitively joined by friends and collaborators including Blair Douglas, Rachel Walker, Ingrid Henderson and Mary Ann Kennedy, who produced the album along with Arthur and Eric Cloughley at her Watercolour Studios.

My one gripe is that, although the sleevenotes and lyrics with English translations can be downloaded, it would have been nice to have the booklet with the CD itself. That aside, this is as fine a performance of Gaelic song as you’ll find anywhere. Finally, while the album’s title of Buanas (perseverance) suggests the endurance of Gaelic language and traditions, it also has much to say about Cormack himself. Let’s hope his duties permit him a follow-up sometime before 2048.

Clare Button

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.