This Ill Deeds, the first release by singer, guitarist and mandolin player Calum McIlroy, is an intriguing mix of old and new material, recorded with a line-up of rising stars of the folk scene under the guidance of Graham Rorie.
The EP alternates between instrumental tracks and songs. Among the latter there is the opener Mistress Greig, a funny Aberdeenshire bothy ballad that represents McIlroy’s earliest folk song memory; the evergreen American standard When First I Came to Caledonia; and the self-penned Memories of Argyll, written after the joyful experience of a New Year’s Eve spent in Oban.
The lively march and reel set PM Jim Christie of Wick / Michael Murphy’s and the thoughtful It’s Sadder Than That, a tune he composed after a challenging and rewarding project in a Scottish prison, are two samples of McIlroy’s skilful guitar and mandolin playing, the latter being even more remarkable for the dainty interplay with the other members of the line-up.
He just needed five tracks to show his mastery of both ancient and modern material. With the personal but accurate choice of these songs and tunes and the elegant arrangements designed for this EP, McIlroy projects himself as one of the most promising heirs of the great school of British singer songwriters that have enchanted the world.Michele Mele
Released on CD and digitally on 30 October 2020, recorded and mixed by Graham Rorie.
1. Mistress Greig
2. It’s Sadder Than That
3. When First I Came to Caledonia
4. PM Jim Christie of Wick / Michael Murphy’s
5. Memories of Argyll