Tuesday, 7 July 2015


CD Review


With an album called Decade it's a safe bet it's going to do what it says on the cover and celebrate 10 years of Skerryvore leaving the remote island of Tiree and machine gunning Scottish music into audiences psyches.

Skerryvore who are marking 10 years of making music
Skerry have produce some great music since they formed in 2005 and at the heart of what they do is traditional Scottish/Celtic music which is given a modern twist and often turbo charged just in case anyone thinks of snoozing during one of their concerts.
There is a great deal of live music caught on this disc but there are also new studio tracks so you can't accuse them of just rehashing the stuff they know goes down well.
If you didn't know after 10 years, Skerry are Alec Dalglish, Martin and Daniel Gillespie, Craig Espie, Fraser West, Jodie Bremaneson and Alan Scobie.
As you would imagine they wanted to catch listeners attention on the first track and they do this with Rox Revival which is one of four on the album recorded live at Celtic Connections. They build the tension with the electrics first, then U2-like the guitar comes in like a train and gets the crowd in on the act. The continuing intro very much reminds of Dire Straits' Money For Nothing except where you have Mark Knopfler's guitar Skerry come on with M Gillespie's bagpipes. This collection shows how Skerry have grown, lasted and become a highly respected part of the Celtic music scene. When you listen to tracks such as Walk With Me you get a sense of the vibrancy and enthusiasm with which Skerry perform.
Sharon Shannon
Don't think for a minute Skerry are all about pinning their audiences to the back wall of venues, By Your Side, which includes an electro funk intro is an intricate and subtle ballad utilising the singing of Dalglish. The final one from the connections shows is a fast-paced folk rock with again Dalglish providing the lyrics and includes some lovely strands on the accordion from D Gillespie. Where Birds Don't Fly is the first of the tracks from the live studio recordings. It's a heavier blues/rock sound which to a certain degree is lightened up by Espie's fiddle and M Gillespie's whistle playing but the rock takes the lion's share of the tune going out with great guitar. When you hear the opening of On The Road if you are of certain age then you can't help but think of Golden Earring's Radar Love but then of course it becomes pure Skerry, they keep the travelling drum beat but weave it in with the accordion and fiddle. This is perhaps Skerry at their best, it's not exactly what you would think of as folk but it's damn good music and you get your money's worth with blues, country, rock and traditional all bundled into one epic track, what's not to like?  Can't Find A Cure has more of a pop feel to it and certainly wouldn't be out of place in the charts.
The immensely talented Sharon Shannon joins Skerry for Happy To Be Home. Dalglish wrote this with Shannon's accordion playing style in mind and it actually evolved from three songs he had put together. It goes without saying you can tell Shannon is there, her lively performance really lifts the ballad and gives it a definite vitality. Crooked has got what is close to an African beat to bring it in but like so many of their tracks Skerry stamp the tartan all over it with M Gillespie's machine-gun pipe playing, the man must have lungs like a hippo. Rocket To The Moon is the first of a pair from
The new album Decade
Tonder Festival three years ago. It's a Runrig tune of which Skerry are particularly enamoured and it's not such a great leap of culture to put their own spin on their Scottish bretheren's music which has become a popular addition to their set lists. The second track from Tonder and the penultimate of the album is The Showman, the only instrumental on the album and is built around M Gillespie's skill with the bagpipes and even has a bit of Santana thrown in. The final track, Home To Donegal has its origins in their home turf of Tiree. It was originally an instrumental but the reluctant Dalglish was eventually persuaded to sing to it and it has to be said, it's not bad for someone who hated singing in public. Decade can be used in several ways for the long-standing fans of Skerryvore to indulge in the favourite band and maybe some nostalgia about the concerts they went to. It is also a good way for anyone who is new to the band to get to hear them at their best. Just as much as it an album which is marking their 10 years it also a thank you to the band's army of fans who have supported them over the decade and long may it continue.

Decade is out now on Tyree Records.

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