Iain Morrison


(Peat Fire Smoke)

Atmosphere is everything in the work of Iain Morrison, as the Hebridean singer-songwriter pulls in elements of Scottish folk music and fragments of Americana as a backdrop for his fragile, beguiling voice. Occasionally he has pushed this package in a tuneful indie-pop direction, but it’s the slower, moodier songs that get under the listener’s skin.

His 2010 album Trust The Sea To Guide Me included a couple of piping tracks which, in their respective ways, reflected the equally proud traditions of Martyn Bennett and Morrison’s father, Pipe Major Iain M Morrison. There’s more of that cultural (and familial) tension on Eas, with each song based on piobaireachd, the classical Highland bagpipe music, but then developed in what’s fast becoming a very distinctive style of his own.

The album opens with Suibhal (47), perhaps the most austere piece of music Morrison has ever recorded – but also the most bleakly beautiful, as low whistle rises from a level drone, and vocals and guitars repeat and loop around themselves. On the title track Pete Harvey’s cello acts as an emotive counterpoint to Morrison’s wounded voice, while elsewhere he pits himself against fiddle or banjo or piano so that the mood is sustained while the musical textures diversify. Past albums were good, but Morrison’s fully evolved writing here is even better.

Alan Morrison