TRAIL WEST – From The Sea To The City (TW Records TWO1CD)

From The Sea To The CityTrail West’s third album, From The Sea To The City finds the band contemplating the often necessary transition for islanders (Hebrideans, in this case) to big centres like Glasgow. What could have been a cue for an album of wistful nostalgia is neatly sidestepped by a band that simply does not do maudlin.

With roots firmly established in ceilidh, this band does boundless energy and big sounds. Their music contains a rich heart of danceability – toes gotta tap, after all. Deceptively, album opener, ‘Bernie’s Second Debut’ begins with calming keyboards, before quickly opening out the set into vibrantly rocking bagpipes and whistles. In a similar vein are the sparky ‘The Tayvallich Turkey’ and the vigorous jig and reel set of ‘Box And Whistle’. Only on the accordion-led ‘Mary K’s Waltz’ does the pace let up for a while.

If there’s a loose thematic link between the songs, it’s a general sense of dislocation or displacement, from the economic exile of ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, an homage to the Irish construction worker, to the regretful Napoleonic soldier of ‘Óran An T-Saighdeir’, or ‘The Mermaid’ claiming her unfortunate sailors.

Love – won, lost and uncertain – reflects another aspect of change. The bittersweet ‘Mo Ghruaghach Dhonn’ and lamenting broadside ballad ‘Belfast Mountains’ are balanced by ‘Cast My Wish Upon The Sea’, a pacy, countryish song with a driving guitar. The slightly stalkerish narrator of ‘Take Me Home’ should back off from standing outside his lost love’s door, and take some advice from Andy M Stewart’s ‘Take Her In Your Arms’ in which dark thoughts are shrugged off in favour of learning to love well.

There are many musical moods and styles evoked across the album, showing the evolution of the band’s musical palette. Instrument prominence is smoothly and swiftly switched, giving plenty of flexibility within a cohesive whole. Expanding the band line-up has also added extra vigour and potential to their sound.

Rounding off with ‘Mo Dhùthaich’ (My Country) suggests that, however difficult it may be to leave places and people, it all helps form their essential Scottishness. The album version feels somehow both serious as well as celebratory, so it’s worth searching out a video version of it performed live. Trail West’s albums stand on their own merit, but the live experience is surely where they fully come into their own.

Su O’Brien

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Trail West announce new album

Trail West

From The Sea To The City is the latest album from Trail West, a band leading the thriving scene of Gaels in the city of Glasgow.

Having started out as a four-piece line-up with strong links to the Hebridean Isles of Tiree and South Uist, they have now enhanced their line-up with Jonathan Gillespie from Glasgow on keyboard and vocals along with Allan J Nairn from Ardnamurchan on electric guitar.

From The Sea To The City refers to the journey that many Gaels have to take at some point in their life, moving from their homes by the sea to the city, to pursue further educational and working opportunities. The album is a broad mix from various genres, representing the numerous influences that Trail West have had from both their rural and city upbringings.

The album follows on from their last release, which highlighted a key development in the band’s outlook, with a wide selection of songs becoming an integral part of the band’s repertoire alongside the recognisable accordion and whistle combination of Seonaidh Maclntyre and Ian Smith.

Now with the added talent of Jonathan Gillespie leading three of the songs alongside Seonaidh Maclntyre’s familiar vocals in both English and Gaelic, this album delivers a polished quality to the band’s sound yet with total appreciation for the tradition they are inspired from.

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A taste of Trail West live:

Trail West announce second album

Trail West - Rescattermastered

With all band members hailing from the Hebridean Isles of Tiree and South Uist, the music and culture that they were raised in remains a pure and refreshing trademark in the sound of Trail West. Rescattermastered represents the next step on the journey for this exciting west coast quartet.

With special guests including Runrig’s Malcolm Jones and iconic Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, this is an album that celebrates everything that is great about traditional music in Scotland and the appreciation that young musicians have for the tradition and culture that has helped to shape their lives.

As with the band’s first release (The One That Got Away, 2013), Rescattermastered demonstrates the incredible musicianship of frontline pair Seonaidh MacIntyre and Ian Smith through high-energy tunes and arrangements, accompanied by the multi-instrumental talents of Andrew Findlater and Alain Campbell. In addition to this, a wide selection of songs now highlight the development and maturity of a band leading the thriving scene of ‘Glasgow Gaels’ ensuring that traditional music in Scotland has a very strong future.

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‘Close To Home’ – official video: