Trail West describe themselves on their website as a “west coast ceilidh band”. The quartet grew up in a tradition of dance music in the Hebrides and this album shows their quest to keep that tradition alive.
Between them, Trail West play guitars, whistles, piano accordion, percussion, midi bass, and highland pipes. The tune playing is complex and energetic and would have an audience on its feet in no time at a live performance. The songs are also delivered with great enthusiasm.
From the title track onwards, it is obvious that Trail West is a band that likes to have fun. Iain Lamont’s and Highland Scottische continue this theme.
As well as the somewhat fast and furious tune sets, there is a fine selection of songs on this album. A couple of folk heroes put in an appearance, in the shape of Macphearson’s Rant, a song of injustice sung from the gallows, and John Henry, a song learned from a Bruce Springsteen album.
The well- known shanty South Australia is delivered with great gusto, and while the nostalgic Homes of Donegal which follows is much gentler, one can imagine an audience joining in enthusiastically with both.
Two songs demonstrate the band’s connection to its roots: Eilean Uibhist Mo Ruin is a beautiful song singing the praises of the island of Uist, while Maraiche Nan Cuantan is a contemporary Gaelic song from Tiree telling the sad tale of a sailor lost at sea. It is sung here by Kathleen MacInnes.
The final track, Close to Home, features Malcolm Jones of Runrig. The influence of this band is also heard in the track Here We Go A-Flat which has a much more rocky feel and gives the highland pipes the chance to shine. Close to Home builds up more gently, beginning with an accordion intro, adding guitars and drums to eventually create a triumphant end to the album.
Scottish traditional dance music is evidently in safe hands.Shelley Rainey
Released on Tyree Records on 18 July 2016.
2. MacPhearson’s Rant
3. Eilean Uibhist Mo Ruin
4. Iain Lamont’s
5. John Henry
6. Sing-Along Gaidhlig Waltzes
7. South Australia
8. Homes of Donegal
9. Highland Schottische
10. Here We Go A-Flat
11. Maraiche Nan Cuantan
12. Close to Home