Celtic folk man Iain Morrison brings his Glaswegian roots with him for his 2015 album Eas. A wonderful mixture of different elements of indie folk, you aren’t sure what you are going to get next.
“Siubhal 47” opens with guitar, harmonium and woodwind that rotates around a chord structure slowly like a breathing cycle. Iain’s voice sits very quietly in the mix almost like it’s trying to break through the cycle in many ways. It’s a mystical, post-folk introduction that sets the tone. The title track follows and is more traditional folk pop. The backing vocals provide what you’d call the synth work whilst Iain’s sombre mumbles lament over all kinds of things. He doesn’t really get overwrought but the track around him does as it builds towards its finale and the playoff between the two is striking. It’s one of my favourite tracks of the year.
“A Flame of Wrath of Patrick Caogach” continues the bitter dark folk tones and is far more dramatic. Iain’s voice cracks and moans with wisdom and tales of old whilst the guitar, pianos and violins gently rock around the big drums before coming together for a Celtic fused melody with all the traditional instruments playing their roles perfectly. “The Little Spree” is a beautiful ballad that takes its cue from muted guitars and careful finger picking in the verses and sweeping chords for the choruses. As a song, it feels quite cathartic. “Crackle” splits the album in half with a spoken word piece in Gaelic. The highland pipes, which are present throughout the album, take the background music before a journey like stomp takes over. Much like a travelling troupe, this track feels like an audio journey and it’s very cleverly put together with different instruments and chants rotating in and out. The theme is loneliness and the music itself feels like you are onwards moving.
“To The Sea” kicks off the second half with the most straight forward track on the album. Ukulele, drums, bass and the pipes makes for a potent piece. It has a wild chanting chorus to it which really uplifts you when the lyrics talk of darker times – taking the best of Scottish music and fusing it with more traditional folk rock tropes. “Too Long in This Condition” is more of a story than a track. It sounds like a lesson from father to son about music whilst you hear a boat swaying in the water in the background. The track then seems to form around the words of the teacher. It’s an interesting concept and a great pause point in the album. “R Morar” follows on the concept with a gentle and ancient sounding track with tribalistic singing over piano and string arrangements before “You’re My Letting Go” closes the album with a guitar based ballad. It’s a softer second side of the album and that follows the albums title “Eas” which is Gaelic for waterfall. The first half seems to be the heavy descent, the second half is the calmer water pool after.
Iain Morrison’s “Eas” is a wonderfully Scottish thing to behold. It reaches back in time to tradition but refuses to stay there, bringing things forward, adding in the present and weaving stories that are touching and unique because of all the influences that created it. A definite contender for alternative world album of 2015!