WMN’s ‘Rough Guide To Scottish Folk’ Is A Solid Examination Of Scotland’s Folk Past, Present, Future

Courtesy: World Music Network

Over the course of almost 25 years, World Music Network has been bringing to audiences around the world (no pun intended) all of the latest news and more about world music.  The organization has also become quite the successful record label, releasing countless compilations under the banner of “The Rough Guide to…”  Late last month, yet another “Rough Guide…” collection was officially released in the form of The Rough Guide To Scottish Folk.  While not the first of its kind from any record label, this 16-song, 61-minute collection of Scottish Folk music is still a presentation that students and  lovers of said genre will appreciate.  It is a collection that proves to be just as valuable in the classroom as in the living room.  This is evidenced in part through the songs that make up the body of the record.  The compilation’s sequencing plays into its presentation just as much as its featured songs.  The companion booklet that is included with the collection rounds out its most important elements.  Each item is important in its own way.  All things considered, the collection becomes a work that is a welcome addition to the music libraries of students and lovers of Scottish music and World Music alike.

World Music Network’s recently released World Music compilation The Rough Guide To Scottish Folk is a work that students and lovers of Scottish music and World Music alike will appreciate.  That is proven in part through the songs that make up the body of the record.  Much of the folk music presented in this compilation comes from modern folk acts, yet the music spans the spectrum of Scottish Folk.  Saltfishforty’s ‘The Odin Stone,’ is one of those songs that while performed by a relatively young, up-and-coming act, shows the important tie between Scottish music and the far more popular Appalachian style.  The double stops played on the fiddle and the slight twang of the guitar and even the vocal delivery sound just like so much bluegrass and country music.  ‘Wire Burners,’ performed by equally young folk performer Findlay Napier, is another of those works that shows a certain connection with so much popular American music.  This gentle, flowing acoustic work features Napier alone on vocals and guitar, and conjures thoughts (at least in this critic’s ears) of popular works from James Taylor, Paul Simon and other famed folk singers.  What is interesting here is that ‘Wire Burners’ was included in Findlay’s 2017 album Glasgow, which came decades after Taylor, Simon and others of that ilk first rose to fame.  To that end, it shows perhaps the influence that American music can have on even modern Scottish folk acts.  Simply put, even on a modern level, these two songs show the connections that Scottish and American music have had on one another, and that they have on each other even today. On yet another level, a song such as ‘Puirt a Beul,’ performed here by Kyle Carey, puts on display a key part of Scottish folk history with its focus mainly on vocal delivery.  This is explained in more depth in the liner notes included in the compilation’s liner notes.  It is one of those works that takes listeners deep into Scotland’s history, again showing in its own way why students and lovers of Scottish and World Music alike will appreciate the compilation.  It is hardly the last of the record’s featured songs that serve to support that statement. There are 13 other songs included in the collection that show just as much the importance of the album’s featured songs.  All things considered, the songs, from start to finish offer listeners plenty to appreciate.  Of course the songs are only part of what makes the collection interesting.  The record’s sequencing plays into its presentation just as much as its songs.

The compilation’s sequencing is so important to note because of the moods that it creates from start to end.  The album starts out upbeat with ‘The Odin Stone,’ with its bluegrass/county sound, but wastes no time in pulling back quite a bit in the much more subdued ‘Echo Mocks The Corncrake,’ which is in fact quite a deeply socio-political work about Brexit.  ‘Wire Burners’ is even more subdued, conjuring thoughts of someone in a dimly lit bar, singing about maybe the plight of the working man.  The collection’s energy starts to increase temporarily from there in ‘The Mavis of Clan Donald,’ which, if interpreted right, is about a bird.  That would explain the happy, upbeat tone of the song that also includes a flute line, which conjures thoughts of that very bird.  From there on out, the rises and falls in the compilation’s energies are subtle, and are just enough to keep listeners engaged throughout.  When the songs’ energies are considered with the songs themselves, the overall entertainment value of this compilation is increased even more, offering even more for listeners to appreciate.  Even with all of this in mind, it still is not the last item to note in examining the collection’s whole.  The companion booklet that is included with the disc plays its own important part to the record’s presentation.

The companion booklet that is included with The Rough Guide To Scottish Folk is important to note because of the information and history that it offers audiences.  Case in point is the story behind ‘The Odin Stone’ that opens the booklet’s liner notes.  The liner notes state that the song centers on the famed eons-old stone, and offers a little extra back story in the process.  Equally interesting in the liner notes is the back story on ‘Echo Mocks The Corncrake,’ which apparently centers on the ongoing issues with Brexit, and Scotland’s ties to the controversial move by the UK.  Additionally, the liner notes also offer an interesting history on ‘The Blantyre Explosion,’ adding even more interest to that song, and even its arrangement, which harkens back to days long ago from Scotland’s past.  As if all of that is not enough, there is also discussion on the connection between ‘Puirt A Beul’ and the ancient Scottish musical tradition of ‘Mouth Music,’ which as noted, is largely an a capella style musical style.  Between all of this history and more offered via the compilation’s liner notes, audiences get just as much to appreciate from the education and history presented here as they do from the entertainment in the music.

On yet another level, the very listing of the artists, their albums and songs plays into the liner notes in that is serves as an introduction to said artists for those who likely otherwise never would have known about them.  That includes this critic.  In other words, it opens new musical doors for listeners and new promotional doors for the artists, so it is beneficial all the way around, especially considered along with the songs and the background information.  Simply put, the information provided within the pages of the compilation’s booklet offers a whole lot for listeners to appreciate.  It adds to the overall depth of the record, and when coupled with the songs and the sequencing, makes the collection in whole, a wonderful deep musical dive for students and lovers of Scottish (and World) music.

World Music Network’s recently released compilation The Rough Guide to Scottish Folk is a work that is certain to appeal to students and lovers of Scottish and World Music alike.  Its songs present samples of modern and classical Scottish folk that will certainly appeal to a wide range of listeners.  The compilation’s sequencing does just as much to entertain listeners as the songs themselves.  That is because of the subtle shifts in the songs’ energies throughout.  The information provided in the compilation’s booklet adds its own depth and interest to the record’s whole.  This includes background on some of the songs as well as a guide to acts for those who are less familiar with the featured acts.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the Rough Guide to Scottish Folk.  All things considered, they make the record a good guide that students and lover of Scottish and World Music alike will appreciate.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online now at:




Website: http://www.worldmusic.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WMN_UK




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