When naming their seventh album, it seemed logical for Skipinnish to return to Scottish folklore, which maintains that the seventh wave is always the strongest.
Thus The Seventh Wave sees the West Coast stalwarts in ebullient form. Opener Alive matches upbeat lyrics with a winsome tune and a brisk, shuffling backbeat, which in itself is perfectly enjoyable. But then the same could be said for three of the other tracks on the album, with Ocean of the Free, The Island and Walking on the Waves following a similar template.
Luckily, The Seventh Wave is more than a single-speed release. There’s some rollicking tune sets such as the forthright and footstomping The Old Woman, with the three-strong bagpipe section coming in like a blast of fresh Highland air on The Hag.
However, they do tend to take the approach of blasting through each tune a couple of times before moving swiftly on to the next one. While it does stop the material from wearing thin, this broad-brush approach does eschew the chance to develop and tease out the subtleties of each tune.
While the band’s roots in the West Coast and islands of Scotland are clear to see throughout the album, this is particularly evident on their ferocious cover of Runrig’s call-to-arms anthem Alba. Meanwhile homecoming song Cro Chinn t-Saille is made all the more uplifting by the presence of a massed choir singing the Gaelic-language lyrics.
Even if there’s relatively little about The Seventh Wave which could be described as truly groundbreaking, this album should provide an hour or so of enjoyable listening for fans of traditional Scottish tunes and songs about the West Coast.Nick Brook
Released on CD and download on 19 May 2017. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Stuart Hamilton.
2. The Hag
3. Harvest of the Homeland
4. Ocean of the Free
5. The Iolaire
7. The Old Woman
8. The Island (intro)
9. The Island
10. Home on the Sea
12. Walking on the Waves
13. Macnab’s Set
14. Cro Chinn t-Saile