Alasdair Roberts


The Gaels of Scotland are a Celtic people, related to the people of Ireland, and, more distantly, to the people of Wales, Cornwall and Brittany in France; they share cultural and linguistic similarities with them all. The Scottish Gaelic tradition is incredibly diverse for such a small country — each area, each island, has its own repertoire of songs and tales and many towns and villages formerly had their own ‘bards’ and storytellers.

Mairi Morrison comes from the Isle of Lewis, one of the furthermost parts of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd. Speaking Gaelic before she spoke English, Mairi possesses a deep knowledge of the music and poetry of the Western Isles of Scotland. In addition to being a professional singer, she is a playwright and actress whose range goes from adding her light comic voice to children’s animation to more serious work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Scotland. Mairi now lives in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, but she carries the Lewis tradition in her heart and her voice. Alasdair Roberts is a non-Gaelic speaking Lowlander, a folk singer and writer of songs with a growing interest in the Gaelic culture tradition of his homeland. He has been pursuing a singular path in music for 15 years. Ceol’s Craic, a monthly event celebrating Gaelic language and culture at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, brought Mairi and Alasdair together to make Urstan (pronounced oorshtan).

Most of the tracks on Urstan are traditional Gaelic songs, with a few Scots songs and self-written tracks too, all played in new, forward-facing arrangements by an ensemble including Stevie Jones (bass), Alastair Caplin (fiddle) and Alex Neilson (drums). Urstan features guest appearances from such Glasgow music scene luminaries as Michael John Mccarthy, David McGuinness, Ross MacRae and Richard Merchant, Peter Nicholson, Mike Hastings and Gaelic song and piobaireachd authority Allan MacDonald.

Urstan presents a spirited and innovative musical re-imaging of a number of classic traditional Gaelic and Scottish numbers and one original tune each from Mairi and Ali. The album includes fastidious liner notes in both Gaelic and English, but the compulsive rhythms and moods conjured by the band will leave you little time to read while the music plays — Urstan is a physically absorbing experience, filled to abundance with color and the love of life.

Urstan Tracklisting:
01. Mìle Marbhphaisg air a’ Ghaol
02. The Laird o’ the Drum
03. Làrach do Thacaidean
04. Never Wed An Old Man
05. E Ho Leigein
06. Fiullaigean
07. Hion Dail-a Horo Hì
08. The Tri-Coloured House
09. Am Faca Sibh Lilidh Tha Mise Ri Lorg?
10. Ailein Duinn
11. The Whole House Is Singing
12. Leanabh an Òir

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