Much has been told, through song and written tale, about the potato famine in 19th century Ireland and the mass emigration of its people to America and other lands. The Scots Highland peasantry had a similar tale of woe -- almost more heartbreaking -- for these 19th-century "crofters" were driven off their rented lands by greedy landlords who could wring more wealth from their property by pasturing coveted Cheviot sheep on them. Steve McDonald, a Kiwi descendent of those refugees, sings the story of these "clearances" and the resulting hardships of the offshore Scots, who still long today to return to the Highlands. McDonald has one of the most expressive and moving voices in the British folk genre; it's tenderly nostalgic and acutely heartwrenching, yet proudly and unwaveringly strong. Unlike many new age Celtic vocalists, McDonald involves the listener in specific words and their meaning. Extensive liner notes offer historical background for every song and sentiment, and McDonald's cinematic arrangements -- with sweeping, epic strings, resounding drums, bagpipes, flutes, and guitars -- make each song's story thunder with emotion. Numerous musicians, including 17-year-old vocalist Hollie Smith and the Takapuna Pub Choir, add to the vitality of the album, which ends with Roy Williamson's unofficial national anthem "Flower of Scotland." Gutwrenching yet entertaining, any one of McDonald's songs could become a standard for all Scots. Highly recommended.
Performance CreditsSteve McDonald Primary Artist,Drums,Fife,Keyboards,Vocals,Background Vocals
Michael Hunter Violin
Eric Thomas Bodhran
Rick White Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Hollie Smith Background Vocals
Mike Farrell Electric Guitar,8-string Guitar
Technical CreditsSteve McDonald Producer