At the Heart of It All, Capercaillie’s brand-new 30th anniversary album, revisits and reinvigorates songs sourced from a wealth of centuries old Hebridean folk songs. The material has been enriched further by compelling contemporary arrangements, with contributions from many special guests who represent the pinnacle of today’s flourishing Scottish music scene.
“We’d never really done much in the way of collaboration on previous albums, but this time it seemed like a nice way to go,” says band member Donald Shaw, “We didn’t want Capercaillie’s 30th anniversary being all about us and our record, but more about celebrating how Scottish and Gaelic music as a whole has expanded and progressed in that time with so many younger musicians coming through.”
Album guests include vocalists Julie Fowlis, Kathleen MacInnes, Darren MacLean, Sineag MacIntyre and Kris Drever ( Lau). Also, Irish banjo legend Gerry O’Connor, uilleann piper Jarlath Henderson, fiddler Aidan O’Rourke (Lau), percussionist James Mackintosh and jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith.
Folking was lucky enough to catch Capercaillie at this years Cambridge Folk Festival and they were on top form. I’ve dug out a video memory of part of that performance when the crowd was treated to rousing version of Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasda. Hope you enjoy it, and if nothing else, it makes you want to rush out and be a part of this brilliant 30th anniversary album release.
WOW (followed by as many exclamation marks as it’s possible to give!) this album gets a resounding ten out of ten and then some. I chanced upon the title of the band via an E mail from folking.com and to say that I was intrigued would be to understate the issue. Banjo players (at least those I have the pleasure of knowing personally) won’t mind me saying that the instrument is much derided within ‘music’ circles but (if you) trust me and are a true ‘music’ lover then do yourself a favour and buy this remarkable offering. Enda Scahill, Martin & David Howley between them show just how, given the right instrument you can engage the listener with displays of brilliant musicianship in both an entertaining (dirty word I know) and truly astonishing technical delivery without having to pander to the “’Ere mate do you play Duelling Banjos?” that is so often encountered in pubs these days. Having delved deep into the Traditional, Old Time and American Music Hall genres as well as doffing the cap to the likes of banjo maestro Gerry O’Connor by performing his beautiful air “Time To Time” alongside the great man himself our heroes all deserve gold medals. I knew the Olympics would crop up somewhere. On another subject it would be great if other ‘folk’ artists would take a leaf out of We Banjo 3’s books and invest some time and money in marketing their product with as much care and attention including the quality of the gatefold jacket, logo and website…ten out of ten for that as well! Dare I say it but if you hadn’t guessed it already this CD will hopefully one day be considered on a par (in folk music terms) with say the first time you heard Steeleye or Fairport. Well, a man can fantasise can’t he?