In 2017, Calum Stewart released Tales from the North, an album celebrating the places and the influences of his native county of Moray. Following from this success, he recorded True North, a new album of both original and traditional tunes played on uilleann pipes or wooden flute, recorded with Ian Le Bozec and Sylvain Quèrè.
Once again, the landscapes, the legends and the villages of the North of Scotland provided the inspiration for the new tunes as well as for the careful selection of the older ones, many of which had never been previously recorded on uilleann pipes. The self-penned title track opens the release in contemplative mood and adds a very personal touch to the final result, being recorded in Stuart’s birth home in Garforth.
The delicate touch of the fretted instruments that accompany the melody is the right substrate for these compositions, skilfully delivered with just the right amount of ornamentation to enhance their qualities. This is particularly noticeable in the airy march The Snipe and on the brisk medley Rothiemurchus Rant, possibly the most striking track on this release.
The album also includes two tunes that Stewart wrote and recorded in previous works, but that, with the passing of time and the many live renditions, have evolved in the composer’s mind. Among them, Looking at a Rainbow Through a Dirty Window is almost certainly the most famous; here it is presented with a characterful change of key on a stripped-back cittern accompaniment.
True North is a splendid second chapter of a voyage that will surely resonate with everyone who has visited the North of Scotland; after discovering it, many listeners will eagerly hope for the third one.Michele Mele
Released on 1 September 2023 on CD and digitally
1. True North
2. As, a Thoisich!
3. Maol Donaidh
4. Schottishe Kerlou
5. Cille Chuimein
6. Frost and Snow
7. The Snipe
8. Craigellachie Lasses
9. Looking at a Rainbow Through a Dirty Window
10. Rothiemurchus Rant