This collection of tunes by one of Scotland's preeminent singer/songwriters was among the first of Putumayo's important single-artist releases. He is a veteran of the Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard, two of the most important bands of the Scottish folk revival, and contributed two pieces to the soundtrack of The Last of the Mohicans. The liners proclaim him as the "Scottish James Taylor," but he demonstrates rather more testosterone than JT and, thankfully, does not generally sing through his nose or resort to naval-gazing or whiny self-involvement. He has far more in common with his countrymen Ewan McColl ("First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"), Dick Gaughan, Eric Bogle, Andy M. Stewart, and even the Incredible String Band, or modern Irish composers like Paul Brady, Luka Bloom, and Christy Moore. Like them, he is as often a songwriter who happens to be Scottish as a Scottish songwriter, but the home fires have burnished every note nonetheless. The present set features an admirably balanced selection of his work, culled from seven albums released from 1983 to 1994. It covers many of his best-known songs, including "Caledonia," in which the singer addresses the land of his birth like a lover. This lovingly nostalgic depiction of a homesick wanderer has become an unofficial national anthem as Scotland, like Ireland and Wales, gradually achieves hard-won independence from centuries of brutal British rule.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Christina Roden