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THE McCALMANS "Keepers" - Greentrax CDTRAX174

For over three decades, The McCalmans have been at the forefront of harmony singing. The trio are passionate advocates of the song, whether traditional or contemporary and are superb practitioners of this musical form.

One reason for the group's success is their continual use of new material and this latest album, their twenty fourth, is no exception. It contains nine songs from the pens of some of Scotland's best songwriters, two from band member Nick Keir and a first ever composition from band member Derek Moffat. There is a refreshing variety of material, excellent contemporary songs, some classic traditional ones and one which is very humourous.

My favourite is the title track, 'Keepers'. Written by Nick Keir, it is a nostalgic reminder of the lighthouse keepers who lost their jobs to automation. There are other fine songs. One example is Brian McNeill's powerful song 'Strong Women Rule Us All With Their Tears'. Although it is about Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from his pursuers, it is also a testament to the strength of women worldwide.

For those whose tastes are more traditional, they will surely be happy with songs such as 'Birnie Bouzle', 'The Birks O' Invermay' and 'Let Us Drink And Go Hame'.

A very funny song is 'Our Glens', written by Buff Hardie and George Donald. It begins in serious mode about the need to save Scotland's glens but the listener soon discovers that these glens are not coloured green but brown in the form of Scotch whisky! Those of you who are unfamiliar with Scotland's national drink may be unaware that many whiskies have glens in their title - Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glen Grant and so on!

If you are unfamiliar with the work of the McCalmans but enjoy excellent harmony singing, then you should find this album delightful.

Dave Dewar

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This album was reviewed in Issue 35 of The Living Tradition magazine.