Westward the Light’s second album offers a collection of Scottish traditional tunes. These four musicians, after years of collaborations, finally began writing and playing together in 2018. They know their landscape well. Their music is broad yet intimate, as traditional as you could wish and played not with Sunday-faced reverence but with warmth and affection. The title track is pianist Joseph Peach’s interpretation of the Flow Country – the peatland region between Caithness and Sutherland. ‘Bothan Airigh am Braigh Raithneach’ (The Braes of Rannoch) captures exquisitely the loneliness and majesty of open moorland.
This is a close, confident quartet (playing fiddle, hardanger d’ amore, guitar, piano and harmonium) and their music is beautifully rounded. ‘O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick’ is the best example of their intimacy, superbly arranged and performed – the piano delightfully picking its way between the measured fiddle and viola. A happy and hypnotic offering. Fiddler Sally Simpson’s infectious ‘Good Days’ is the upbeat and energetic single release.
‘Tha Brogan Ur Agam A-Nochd’ is as finely crafted a set as I have heard in a long time. There is something between the polished playing, the choice of tunes and subtle rhythmic and musical enhancements that recaptured for me those days when this music first caught my imagination and then my heart. It may or may not be the quite the same for you but you’ll have a fine time finding out.