Music making of this quality is all too rare.
Michael Quinn 2008-04-07
Fourteen albums in, new folk pioneers Capercaillie continue to demonstrate why they've been at the forefront of the roots renaissance in their native Scotland for the best part of the last three decades.
Roses and Tears delivers all you'd expect from the experienced eight-piece ensemble and proves a more than welcome return after a long six-year wait for new material following 2002's Choice Language.
Many of the dozen tracks here have been sourced from the Gaelic song archive at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. Blended with new self-penned material and a haunting take on John Martyn's anti-war song, Don't You Go, the end result is an album of exhilarating music making.
Dip in anywhere and you’ll find something to please and delight. Try the impeccable Martyn cover, Seinneam cliú nam fear ùr (which translates as I Sing the Praises of the Brave Lads) - a translucently delivered song from the Isle of Skye - or the Murdo MacDonald-penned Leodhasach an tir chein (A Lewisman in a Foreign Country).
If the gossamer-light vocals of Karen Matheson take centre stage here, its impact is heightened by the crack contributions of her Capercaillie colleagues who play with a consummate, wholly captivating elegance rooted in faultless ensemble.
Him bò is a seamless amalgam of old and new styles that invites virtuosity from all eight band members and gets it in eloquent spadefulls. The jaunty Barra Clapping Song steps lightly out of the speakers to dance nimbly around the room joined by the no less beguiling Quimper Waltz of Donald Shaw. It's his plaintive, clear-eyed quietly challenging Soldier Boy that collects and gives voice to the bittersweet undercurrents swirling not far beneath the surface of this thoughtful and often moving album.
There were rumours that this was to be Capercaillie's swansong, a prospect hinted at by the working title, Call It A Day. On the strength of this offering, let's hope not. Music making of this quality is all too rare.