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Album Review

The Tannahill Weavers are in the class of the modern Scottish folk bands; not only do they boast great singers and focus primarily on traditional material, but they also make tasteful use of the Highland bagpipes. Don't laugh. For many listeners, that's a serious issue; the Highland pipes have a sound that you either love or hate. The Weavers help you love it by putting great care into their arrangements. For example, the opening medley on this disc features no fewer than five traditional fiddle tunes (performed in under five minutes), and that approach is part of what makes those skirling pipes so easy on the ear; by the time you get tired of hearing one melody you've already heard two more. Then they throw themselves into the serious vocal work on the title track, and you think you've died and gone to Aberdeen — or Edinburgh, given the tune's subject matter. "Capernaum" is a setting of Lewis Spence's poetic lament over the bloody and repressive history of that city, and the melody is a bracing dirge sung with authority by the Weavers, who handle the dense, tight harmonies with passionate ease. The next track is a heartwrenching ballad called "The Plooboy Laddies," and from this high point on, the album's quality basically never falters. Instrumentals and songs are fairly evenly distributed, and the liner notes include a handy glossary of Scots Gaelic terms used in the lyrics.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Tannahill Weavers, who started as a band in the late '60s, occupy a unique position among the groups on the Scottish folk scene. Stalwarts Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie have surrounded themselves with a rotating cast of great musicians. Their music, which uses the Highland bagpipe, flute, and fiddle as its melodic core, is tighter, more intense, and harder-driven than the Battlefield Band, Silly Wizard, or their other contemporaries. Despite their mostly acoustic sound, they're the closest thing...
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Capernaum, The Tannahill Weavers
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