An album of new songs and music with words by Alexander McCall Smith and music composed by James Ross. These Are The Hands explores Scotland’s relationship with the sea and the land, including themes such as immigration, emigration, ship building, fishing and mining. James plays piano and Alexander narrates.
The music and the songs celebrate the presence of the sea in Scottish life, past and present. The sea has to a great extent defined the Scottish character: nowhere in Scotland is far from the coast; the sea gives us our weather, our skies, and, even today, an important part of our livelihood. Influenced by Scottish traditional music, the new compositions convey a sense of just how the sea has made its mark on the people of Scotland.
A number of the songs look back at Scotland’s previous maritime experience. These include earlier times – the sea crossings of early saints and the sea roving of Vikings. Others have a more recent setting – as in the case of Shetland whalers and the young crew of a corvette on North Atlantic duty in the Second World War. The historical circumstances may vary, but the nature of the sea itself, its pull, its warnings, its perils have been the same throughout the ages.
The music and lyrics also explore the relationship that people have had with the land. Alexander and James explore the story of the Scottish coal miner and depict the hardship of pit work through song and instrumental music.