As middle-aged civil servants are entitled to their summer vacations and road trips, we spent most of my summer freedom travelling across Finland and relaxing in faraway corners and national parks of our country.
Listening to music, the mandatory driving music notwithstanding, was really not a thing, except in a couple of Finnish folk music festivals. The bigger festival, Kaustinen (one of the major folk fests in Europe, actually) featured a Scottish serving this year, with Catriona MacDonald, Blazin’ Fiddles and Talisk energizing the festival. Fabulous it was – sgoinneil!
But I did have an occasional moment to really listen to an album, and here’s part one of my summer listenings:
Shona Mooney’s 🏴 2006 album Heartsease was one of the ”why haven’t I heard this before?!” things. A ridiculously lively and masterful serving of music spanning and genre-hopping across trad, neofolk, jazz, chamber trad and something just different. Sooo enjoyable – and fun! I wish she’d do more solo stuff, this album is such a gem 💎
Staying in Scotland but moving now up to Orkney, emphatically. The one man fiddle section in Gnoss, Graham Rorie 🏴, released his solo debut in 2021 but I only gave it a really proper listen this summer. The Orcadians of Hudson Bay is a thematic instrumental album that pays homage to all the people who emigrated from Orkney to Canada in the 1800’s, looking for a better pay and perhaps an easier life, many of them eventually working for the massive Hudson Bay company and its many sub-companies.
It’s a fine album with lovely melodies, danceable grooves and playing, full of heart and obviously a labor of love by an Orkney music. It’s all very entertaining, with a strong band backing Graham and with occasional jazz and pop flavors, never overly sentimental. No new ground is exactly broken but it’s not necessary either – this is great trad-based instrumental music that does not succumb to labels.
And to close part one of the summer diary, I will mention Dawn, the first Talisk 🏴 album with Benedict Morris on the fiddle. It continues the ultra-intense style of its predecessors with a bit more oomph in the production department and is guaranteed to put some serious adrenaline in your system. I guess you know Talisk by now anyway so enough of my yappin’, you know how unique they are. And on stage even better, as I can testify.
Oops, this became an all-Scottish posting, didn’t mean to do that. So, next time there will be a lot of talk about some excellent Irish music 🎶🇮🇪