Journey to Scotland, Escale en Ecosse - Various Artists

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Escale En Ecosse, or A Journey to Scotland, is like a quality Scottish variety hour on CD. It has got everything: pipes and drums, fiddles, singing of various descriptions, accordion, harp and ... well, you get the picture. This one little album is fairly complete in its survey of Scottish music. There is also a strange plinky-plunky-boingy instrument I have never heard before played on a couple of tracks.

Very few of the performers (including Jean Redpath, Ian Hardie, Heritage and the McCalmans) were familiar to me when I began, though many of the songs and tunes were. The renditions these fairly unknown but highly talented musicians and singers provide are extremely traditional. There is no fusion, no experimentation, no strange instrumentation (except for the boingy thing). The mostly acoustic pieces are interspersed with some terrific songs to great effect.

This really is like a journey to Scotland (maybe 20 years ago, but still) or to a Scottish show. The advantage is that it is only a sample so you won't get tired of any of the styles and you have the added pleasure of just having discovered a bunch of great artists you hadn't heard of until now!

The liner notes contain a short essay on the history of Scottish traditional music, the variation in styles and instruments and a section explaining the origin of some of the variation. They do not, however, contain any biographical information on the artists or any background on individual songs, which would have been nice.

If you are interested in an older, more traditional style of Scottish music, this album is for you. It is a nice CD of good pieces and good variety.