13.2.10

New Voices Review...

NEW VOICES: IAIN MORRISON
The Scotsman *****

GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
THERE were actually two Iain Morrisons among the eight-piece ensemble put together for this show: the Lewis-born singer-songwriter, piper, guitarist, erstwhile member of Glasgow indie-popsters Crash My Model Car, and composer of the music premiered here, together with his pipe-major father, who first taught him to play using the ancient vocal method of canntaireachd (during the thanks at the end, the old man received a touchingly heartfelt tribute "for giving me music").

It was to those earliest traditional roots that Morrison Jr returned for inspiration in writing the dozen or so songs he'd collectively titled Ceol Mor/Little Music, meanwhile bringing to bear all his diverse creative journeyings since then.

An array of sumptuous, powerfully stirring melodies were all based on excerpts from piobaireachd, the original ceol mor, or "big music", of the Highland bagpipe repertoire, while the lyrics engaged with the stories attached to the source material, where known, or with their titles if not.

Deploying his multi-talented band on viola, cello, piano, whistle, electric guitar, bouzouki, bass and drums, with Dad and fellow piping luminary Rona Lightfoot singing canntaireachd, Morrison concocted a spellbinding admixture of rock, folk and even classical stylings, by turns heartrending and uplifting, at once timeless and modern.

Splendidly anchored by their author's ruggedly resonant, richly emotive vocals – themselves further illumined by drummer Seamus O'Donnell and bassist Graham Neilson's radiant harmonies – these were songs you instantly wanted to hear all over again: lets hope there are plans for a recording.