In 2014 Luath Press published a book of poems, Scotia Nova - Poems For The Early Days of a Better Nation. It seemed to make sense to release an album of new songs, Scotia Nova - Songs For The Early Days Of A Better Nation.
A steering group of like-minded folk was formed: Mairi Campbell, Dave Francis, poet Alistair Findlay and Ian McCalman joined Gavin MacDougall of Luath Press and Ian Green of Greentrax.
Invitations went out to songwriters who the group believed would be interested in the project. The response was tremendous and eighteen songs were selected and recorded, a wide variety of songwriting styles and singers.
The songwriters include Yvonne Lyon, Fiona J Mackenzie, Gill Bowman, Mairi Campbell & Dave Francis, Finlay Napier, Brian McNeill, David Lyon, Scott Murray, Charlie Milne, Ian McCalman, Iain MacDonald, Alistair Findlay, Duncan McCrone & Cy Jack and more. Most songs are sung by the writers but in a couple of instances writers invited other singers to interpret their work.
This is a truly unique and remarkable project and many of the songs are likely to find their way into Scotland’s song tradition.
The album was launched at a Celtic Connections concert of the same name in the GRCH Strathclyde Suite in January 2016.
Review by Jim McCourt
This Greentrax compilation brings together 18 Scots songwriters, invited by a panel to pen their views on the aftermath of Scotland’s Independence Referendum and the country’s future prospects.
Male vocalists and guitar accompaniment feature strongly throughout the 18 tracks. Four songs were written by women, namely Gill Bowman’s sweet melodic A Bonny Star, Yvonne Lyon’s metaphoric The Road Is Still Leading Us On, Fiona Mackenzie – singing the only Gaelic song, unaccompanied - and Mairi Campbell, with the highlight of the album. Her co-composition with Dave Francis, sung in dialect, is grounded in earthy authenticity, acute perception, and brings warmth to a cold reality.
Other features include Brian McNeill, with an impassioned protest song of old, concerning croft land, and an Ian McCalman song – he also produced the album. The Pioneers by Duncan McCrone and Cy Jack focuses on the struggles and integration of Indian immigrants who have contributed so much to Scotland.
Various topics are covered elsewhere, ranging from reconciliation, commonality, optimism, poverty (exemplified in Scott Murray’s Duke Street To Jericho) and exile. There is still the hint of a search for a coherent national identity. One punk rock track is included!
As ever with Greentrax, an excellent booklet is included, with thumbnail sketches of the artistes and songs, and full lyrics.
An innovative and ambitious concept, Scotia Nova places emphasis on the importance of songs and songwriters as sounding boards for a nation’s mood. The songs are markers for the skills and standards to be expected of prospective songwriters.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 May, 2016.