Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd - The Final Trawl

2020 studio album

The Final Trawl - Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd

the bright young folk review

Since the start of the new millennium, Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd has been hosting talented young musicians at Plockton High School in the Lochalsh area of the West Highlands. The Final Trawl is the latest in a series of albums showcasing the talents of students at what has been recognised by the Scottish Government as The National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music.

The first disc of this double album, featuring final year students, is named The Final Trawl not because it is intended as the last release from the school, but after the third track, a wistful song about the struggles of the fishing industry in Scotland. Directly following this, slow tune David Robinson provides a tasteful and mature tribute to a departed friend.

On a more cheerful note, self-described “cheesy” strathspey Stilton in the Caravan shows plenty of grit and swagger, while fiddle trio The Fantastic Pic is brimming with vim and vigour, underpinned with the technical nous to produce a gorgeous tone. Equally Mrs McRae and Box Club feature the three accordionists performing together unaccompanied, all the better to hear the mind-bending ornamentation carried out in perfect unison.

The benefit of the students studying and playing together over a period of years is plain to hear from the tightness of their ensemble playing, with Hamilton’s Rainbow showing plenty of hustle. Similarly The Seals of Plockton set contains a well managed jump from the titular jig into breakneck reel Turning the Clock Forward, with guitarist Gillie O’Flaherty introducing additive rhythms for the middle section with ease.

The “Other Disc” features contributions from younger students, and provides a different balance of instruments and musical sensibilities to its companion. ABC Puirt and Bodach Innse Chró features slow burning minimalistic arrangements perfectly suited to the circular feel of the traditional Gaelic “mouth music” repertoire.

Tranquil clarsach and piano duet Mrs Jamieson’s Favourite sneaks in some inventive chord changes, while the perky Elliot’s features an intriguingly modernist combination of those two instruments plus clarinet.

Describing the album from the starting point of the musicians’ youth or resorting to patronising cliches about how talented they are for their age would miss the point. In reality the content of The Final Trawl is the equal of many other recent Scottish trad releases.

Hopefully this album is the final in name, but not in fact.

Nick Hart

Released on CD and digitally 2019. Produced by Dougie Pincock.

Disc One: The Landings

1. Hamilton’s Rainbow
2. Stilton in the Caravan
3. The Final Trawl
4. David Robinson
5. The Seals of Plockton
6. O’ Fair A-nall Am Botal
7. Radio Edit
8. Taobh Abhainn
9. Mrs MacRae
10. The Handshaker’s Joy
11. Óran na Fiaclan
12. The Fantastic Pic
13. The Skylark’s Pod
14. Box Club
15. Deliverance (Befrielsen)

Disc Two:

1. Freen’ship
2. ABC Puirt
3. Bastavoe
4. Elliott Finn Macdonald
5. Flake
6. Ye Jacobites By Name
7. The Rescue Bee
8. A’Bhonaid Aig a’Ghobhair
9. Mrs Jamieson’s Favourite
10. Bodach Innse Chró
11. Táladh Dhomnaill Ghuirm
12. O Teannaibh Dluth Is Togaibh Fonn
13. Béal na mBláth

Sgoil Chiùil na Gàidhealtachd discography

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Producer credits

Dougie Pincock