SKERRYVORE new album ‘Evo’

Highly recommended album and you can read my review here

Skerryvore, one of Scotland’s finest musical exports, are gearing up to release their sixth studio album this weekend.

The multi award-winning eight piece male line-up, firm favourites on the festival scene, will launch Evo at their own signature festival, Oban Live, on Saturday June 9th just days before its official June 11 release on the Tyree Records label.


Full of their trademark fusion of folk, trad, rock and Americana this heady brew of musicians hails from all corners of Scotland, each one bringing something different to the mix. Glasgow-based, Livingston-born lead singer and guitarist Alec Dalglish has penned five new songs that contrast with the belting tunes spread liberally across the 11 track release.

As with the definition of Evo, Skerryvore – named after a remote reef in western Scotland – have stealthily evolved their driving Celt-rock sound over the past 12 years. Formed in 2005 by Isle of Tiree-born Gillespie brothers Daniel (accordion) and Martin (Highland bagpipes), the band now boasts newest member Scott Wood on pipes and whistles, Ayrshire’s Craig Espie (fiddle) and Alan Scobie (keys), Aberdeenshire’s Jodie Bremaneson on bass and West Lothian’s Fraser West (drums).

No blade of grass stands a chance of growing under the feet of this energetic line-up. Twice winners of Scotland’s Traditional Music Awards coveted ‘Live Act of the Year’ (2016 and 2011) their upward trajectory has taken them from a small Hebridean island on a global journey often away from the well-trodden gig circuit for prestigious milestone performances in New York’s Central Park, at the Ryder Cup in Louisville and the Shanghai Expo, China.

Recorded at the renowned Castlesound Studios in East Lothian and Carriage House Studios in Conneticut, Evo is instantly engaging. An expectant drone kicks in for the haunting tour de force opening number – Martin Gillespie’s tongue-in-cheek tune The Exorcists, triggered by the band’s exorcising of spirits of a different kind from promoter Gordon MacKenzie’s Oman home in his absence. Mackenzie remarked: “If you want spirits removed from your house, call in the Skerries!” It segues into Scott Wood’s tune Donnie’s.

Opening at full throttle with that big emphatic sound of thundering drums and pipes, as rich as a Scottish single malt, it lays down the gauntlet for this captivating album that for 45 minutes draws you into another world that is vibrant and emotive in equal measures.

Dalglish’s songs start with At the End of the Line, with its opening keyboard refrain. With his engaging, clear voice he ponders the global touring shuttle “4000 miles in the sky till the wheels hit the ground” and the location of Paradise and concludes it is “where your people are”, totally changing the mood created in the opening number.

And this is what Skerryvore is so good at – migrating from the big blast numbers to the heartfelt reflective tracks.

Dalglish has these songs down to a fine art, from the infectious Hold On to the hopefulness of Waiting on the Sun and the catchy mainstream-nudging love song Take My Hand, released as a single.

Another stand out number is his life-affirming Live Forever, a remixed version of the original song recorded in Conneticut. It provided the soundtrack for Scottish Tourism’s ‘Wild About Argyll’ campaign and hit No 1 in the iTunes World music chart last year, followed by a 70-date Live Forever tour of UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, The Netherlands and USA.

Craig Espie’s Mile High tune set apparently recalls his fainting episode on board a flight home from Spain, with little sympathy from his bandmates. But there’s nothing light-headed about this number which is fast and furious -Mile High Header being followed by the aptly-titled Momentum, with the pipes let loose.

Elsewhere there are covers of the late Aberdeenshire piper-composer Gordon Duncan’s lively and intricate tune Trip to Modera and Glaswegian songwriter Alex Wayt’s rocky song Borderline.

Soraidh Slan, a slow, respectful air composed and performed by Martin Gillespie, is the poignant penultimate track – a farewell to loved ones lost in 2017 before The Rise, also written by Martin, ends on an optimistic, upbeat note with all musicians at full pelt to bring the music full circle.

Skerryvore marked their 10th anniversary in 2016 with a “Decade” concert at Mossfield Stadium, Oban, selling 3,000 tickets in 90 minutes. The capacity was increased and 6,000 visitors enjoyed the event with guests including Dougie MacLean and Ireland’s Sharon Shannon.

Image result for oban Live logoIts success led to the creation of the band’s own annual festival Oban Live that has now attracted over 10,000 festivalgoers and become the biggest live music event in Argyll and Bute. The 2018 event (June 8 & 9) will witness the launch of Evo.

This year sees Skerryvore embarking on another world tour that will include a headline performance at the famous Tonder Festival in Denmark and a date at the Brooklyn Bowl. In the UK they will be appearing at festivals including Shrewsbury, Wychwood and Moonbeams.

Classy and confident, this tight, talented line-up continue to set the bar high. Skerryvore -The Evolution – continues.

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