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Donald Shaw & Charlie McKerron
"Gruth is Uachdar"
- Vertical VERTCD062

A conversation that crops up regularly in my local hostelry after a couple of shandies goes something like, 'why doesn't Scottish traditional music seem to market itself as well as their Irish counterpart?' Of course there are many and varied reasons for this, but one comment that keeps coming back is, that with a few notable exceptions 'many of the new bands/artists in Scotland want to play rock and roll'. Vertical is one of the scene's newer labels and to its credit wholly endorses progressive folk (rock 'n' roll) and all that it entails. It's encouraging then to find the label releasing an album of traditional music that could potentially outshine many Celtic releases this year.

Gruth is Uachdar takes the form of a soundtrack album to accompany the BBC series of the same name. Soundtracks can often be rather insipid affairs with repetitive themes and a lack of coherence when required to stand alone of the silver screen. This CD is different; it's a joyous celebration of Scottish music that has a life of its own. Comparisons could be made with Shaun Davey's Brendan Voyage, or even at a push, Riverdance - but a much more subtle flavour.

Donald Shaw and Charlie McKerron of Capercaillie have drafted in a stellar supporting cast to join on this project; there are simply too many big names to mention here. The most significant contribution however comes from the BBC Symphony Orchestra whose lush tones add real depth to this lavish production. Gruth is Uachdar is positive proof that given the right nurturing Scottish traditional music is fully capable of competing on a global scale.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 48 of The Living Tradition magazine.