I sometimes while away an idle moment trying to discern trends in Scottish music and I always fail. There are young musicians playing the oldest tunes they can find, others pushing the boundaries of composition in their reinterpretation of old forms and some playing rock’n’roll on bagpipes and big drums. Paul Anderson falls into yet another category, a composer of new music that sounds as old as the Aberdeenshire hills that he’s celebrating. The High Summit is his third album of his own music.
Paul’s fiddle is the dominant sound, of course, but he has a fine bunch of supporting musicians all whom would grace any album. Top of the list, I suppose, is keyboard player and co-producer Ali Napier who also gets a tune named after him. Then there are guitarists Tony Mcmanus and Malcolm Jones bringing two very different styles to the party, Swedish cittern player Ale Carr and James Gorgon who plays extraordinary percussion on ‘Corporal Hare Of The Royal Marines/The Diamond Special’.
There are eighteen tracks on the album, many quite short, and all save one are instrumentals. Paul names his tunes after places and people in the old-fashioned manner so ‘Anne Cromar Of Morpeth’ and ‘Alastair MacDougall Of Hopewell’ get name-checks. The odd track out is ‘The Bonnie Banks O’ Dee’, co-written and sung by Shona Donaldson, who also has the closing track named for her. Shona has one album to her credit and it’s very tempting to track a copy down but I digress. The song captures perfectly the cadences and feel of the Scots tradition and if a duo album of their original songs doesn’t emerge out of this I’ll be very disappointed.
The High Summit is a lovely album, full of bouncy dance rhythms and beautiful airs. It’s a record that you can easily lose yourself in.
Artist’s website: http://www.paulandersonscottishfiddler.com/
Going the extra mile, Paul films himself playing ‘Balmoral’ on Lochnagar: