Cliar (SCO) were a top notch Highlands trad group that was active in the early 2000’s and made three remarkable albums.
Sometimes a folk music artist or band comes up with a whole new take on the existing paradigm and creates a whole new branch on an old tree. But sometimes an artist or a band is just so committed and skilled that they seem to re-invent something old while actually not doing anything particularly innovative.
The latter, in my humble ears at least, is pretty much what Cliar was about. During a bried career the band – featuring, in their various lineups, Scottish icons like Mary Ann Kennedy, Arthur Cormack, Bruce MacGregor and Ross Martin – played Highlands and West Islands music with such verve, clarity and warmth that it shone like a bright star above a nocturnal loch.
The three Cliar albums (released between 2000 and 2005) are brim full of joyful, heartfelt playing and singing so effortless, it seems to be like breathing to these musicians. The albums represent a more gentle and song-oriented Highland tradition than the virtuoso hi-energy celebrations of Blazin’ Fiddles (that has been steered by Bruce MacGregor from the start).
Cliar didn’t have to reform their tradition; they expressed and passed it on naturally. Their recordings are in my “Scottish trad jewel box” and warmly recommended to anyone even slightly interested in this musical culture.
Cliar on the Web: