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BLAIR DOUGLAS - Behind The Name

BLAIR DOUGLAS - Behind The Name
Macmeanmna SKYECD57

The title of this latest instrumental release by Skye accordionist / pianist Blair Douglas refers to the fact that the tracks are mostly tributes to local people (and a cockerel!), both departed and still with us, and the accompanying notes give us a little bit more detail about them and their lives.

Blair has one of the most mellifluous playing styles you will come across, and one of the most recognisable writing styles as well. Right from the opening bars of Glasgow, The Caring City there is no doubt just who you are listening to. There are no less than 14 backing musicians, providing guitars, fiddles, pipes, whistle, viola, cello, saxes and mandolin in varying combinations, so the overall sounds from track to track have loads of variations, with arrangements that draw on influences from, for example, Africa and Cajun country – quite a range!

This range gives a lovely mixture of moods as well, from the pulsating joy of The Vital Spark (not about a Clyde puffer, but a tribute to the late Glaswegian singer Chris Harley), to the appropriately elegiac Lament For The Poets, which is jointly dedicated to Sorley MacLean and Seamus Heaney. The final track, Laoich Festubert, recalls the Battle of Festubert of May 1915 in which many Skyemen from the local Cameronian regiment were slaughtered in that bloodiest of wars. Blair’s commission from Urras an Eilein rounds off the album in a reflective mood, yet the overall feelings are of celebrations of lives lived, and the whole album is a delight.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.