Beinn Lee are a young six-piece band who are deeply rooted in the music of their home in Uist. Osgarra is their debut and I get the feeling that they had enough ideas for three different records but decided to combine them all into one to see what happened. It makes for a very varied record and I’ll bet that their live sets are equally good.
So, on the one hand we have tunes in the Hebridean style – I’m not an expert but I reckon that the instrumental set ‘Alasdair Uilleim’s’ and the beautiful Gaelic song ‘Moladh Eubhal’ fit that description. Angus John Macinnes’ drums give the former a jaunty military beat which may or may not be authentic but which sounds wonderful. The latter is sung by James Stewart and the band give it a rich, smooth arrangement. ‘Well Done The Dancers!’ is another set that sounds terribly four-square and features Micheal Steele’s pipes but I suspect tongues are in cheeks. On the other hand we have tunes from some of Scotland’s best known contemporary composers; tunes with titles like ‘A Bottle Of Vodka, Twenty Marlboro Red And £50 Cashback’. Of course, Beinn Lee mix the tunes up so Dòmhnail Ruadh Chorùna’s ‘An Eala Bhàn’, written on the Somme, is followed by a Fred Morrison tune and two band originals.
On the other hand…well, you get the point…Beinn Lee could be a Celtic rock band. James has written two songs here: ‘Begin Again’ and ‘Now Girl’ – the latter is particularly good – and they throw in Runrig’s ‘The Story’ which sort of links past and present. I like the variety of Osgarra – if you don’t particularly care for one track you’ll certainly like the next one, although what’s not to like about any of it?
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A set of reels from Beinn Lee: