Capercaillie (SCO) are one of the groundbreaking Scottish bands that more or less invented Celtic Crossover already in the early 1990’s and continue performing to this day. Capercaillie’s music was one of my paths and open doors to Scottish trad music; they occupy such a big, warm place in my heart.
Capercaillie’s first three albums (1984-89) are pretty much in the trad box although with some added synth coloring and electric bass. The debut Cascade is still a bit unsure on its legs but Crosswinds and Sidewaulk present a band certain of itself and very capable in every respect.
A new direction was opened with 1991’s Delirium that introduced a more modern style I have described to friends as a hybrid of trad, Sting and Peter Gabriel. It’s a balanced marriage of folk instruments and digital; trad-style tunes and well written, world music flavored songs, with Karen Matheson’s life affirming, emphatic vocals (in both Gaelic and English) in the heart of it all, lightning up the music. One might say that it’s remaking and almost a re-inventing an old musical culture.
That combination was retained in all the subsequent albums and became a Capercaillie trademark. In some phases, the synths and pop were a bit more dominant, in others, vice versa, but on the whole their discography from 1991 on is remarkably consistent, both in style and extremely high quality. It was also a recipe that broke the UK Top 40 glass ceiling for a band who performed and recorded mostly in Gaelic.
I totally love this music and recommend it to anyone with ears and heart open 🙂
Capercaillie on the Web: