Days O' Grace

by Hector Gilchrist

This is Hector's 4th album with Wildgoose and he has returned to his Scottish roots with most of the songs coming from Scotland. All of the accompaniments are provided by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer and Moira Craig provides some lovely harmony singing.

Musicians

Hector Gilchrist: vocals, guitar.

Jonny Dyer: guitar, accordion, piano, harmony vocals.

Vicki Swan: flute, nyckelharpas, double bass, harmony vocals.

Moira Craig: harmony vocals.

Hector has a very fine tenor voice with a most incredible range. His interpretation of traditional and modern songs, mostly with a Scottish flavour, are second to none. He has an extensive repertoire of Burns’ songs and has included just one on this album since he has recorded a complete album of them in the past. He has been singing in venues of all descriptions for the last 50 years and is an experienced performer which shows through on this album.

Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer are two of the most wide ranging accomplished musicians around in the folk world today and Hector has chosen them to do most of the accompaniments on the album. A wise choice resulting in a very varied album with very inventive backings.

The selection of tracks in this album is mostly comprised of songs which are part of my regular performances and some which should have been. There is at the end of the day, always a difficult choice and a better song.’



The realisation that it was fifty years since I first performed at the “Sing Out” Folk Club in Crewe Cheshire, founded by Dave and Gwenna Carless and friends and seven years since my last recording on Wildgoose, prompted me to record this album of mainly Scottish material. In 1961 I had arrived in England to work in Further Education and brought with me a varied collection of songs ranging from Traditional Scottish song, Skiffle, Calypso and anything else which might be the fashion of the day and could be played with the old four chord, guitar technique.

I had always sung from a young age, aided no doubt, by genetic good fortune inherited from both parents who regularly hosted their siblings and friends who would descend on occasional week-ends from Glasgow, on our small Ayrshire farm- holding, in the post war years. From this singing environment there was no retreat and we were all pressed into service, with my cousin playing the piano and party pieces performed. The “Heidie” of my local Coylton school, was also keen to encourage the singing and recitation of the works of Burns and to that end there was the annual so-called, competition where I had my first success. Today, I am grateful for these introductions to the traditional and popular songs of the day. I will continue to sing at Clubs and Festivals whilst I am still invited, but my family and friends have been well primed to let me know when it is time to stop embarrassing them!

The selection of tracks in this album is mostly comprised of songs which are part of my regular performances and some which should have been. There is at the end of the day, always a difficult choice and a better song.

1 The Trysting Fair at Falkirk 
Bryan McNeil. Words / music 
A rousing song, with a good chorus, which catalogues the changes in fortune over the centuries of the famous Falkirk Agricultural Fair. It was a great draw throughout Scotland, with animals being brought down on the old droving roads to be fattened up on the rich lowland pastures. It was also where “feeing” took place for farm workers seeking new employment. 

2 The Gowden Locks o` Anna 
Robert Burns 
Burns wrote this poem during an impassioned affair with the niece of the innkeeper of the Globe Tavern in Dumfries. She bore him a daughter, Elizabeth, who was raised within the Burns family. He was much criticised for this liaison, and later added the unrepentant fourth verse. 

3 Turn Ye tae Me 
C.North. / Trad. arranged 
This rather gloomy poem by Christopher North was set to a old gaelic rowing melody, and was a favourite of my father`s when I sang it at home. 

4 Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom 
Trad. 
This is one of the many versions of an old ballad collected throughout the United Kingdom. The devil is disguised as a knight in this case, and poses his “questions three”, which intriguingly seem to become six! Well, you never could trust The Deil. 

5 Glassmaker‘s Hand 
Colum Sands 
Colum Sands is a popular visitor to my local Folk Club, the Ram in Thames Ditton. I heard him sing this song a couple of years ago, and resolved to learn it. A typically simple story about the mysterious origins of the art of glass-making is made special by Colum‘s poetical skill and fertile imagination. 

6 Just a Boy 
Alan Reid 
I was much taken by this little sentimental song by Alan Reid, the ex Battlefield Band keyboard player. He has suggested that it was about growing old, but I think that it is probably about the realisation that it is really the women who are in control all along. 

7 The Shian Road 
Ian McCalman 
This is a poem written by Ian as a tribute to his father, who loved the hills and the glens around the Argyll peninsula. He subsequently created a tune to match the sentiments. I first heard it beautifully sung by Isla St Clair. 

8 Strong and Faithful 
H Gilchrist. /E.Thomson 
This was written by the duo “Selkie” for a special gathering of the Clan Maclachlan, of which the Gilchrists are a sept. The clan slogan is “Fortis et Fidus”. The Clan lands, which are in Strathlachlan near Strachur, were forfeited after Culloden, but were eventually returned to the Chieftanship, currently held by Ewan Maclachlan of Castle Lachlan, Strathlachlan. Now there‘s a challenge for the non Scots! 

9 John Condon 
Laird /Starrett /McCrory 
There is still debate concerning the true identity of the soldier whose headstone lies in the Poelkapelle War Cemetery, but this does not detract from the poignancy of this song about the death of a young Irish boy serving in the British army, as many of his fellow countrymen did in the Great War. It has been much recorded, but I felt compelled to include it in this Anniversary year. 

10 The Menzies Tree 
G Menzies 
Gordon Menzies, of the popular and long serving duo, “Gaberlunzie”, wrote this song about a travelling shepherd of the Menzies Clan, whose Clan symbol is a Scots Pine tree. The legend states that whilst such a tree remains standing on Rannoch Moor, the future of the Clan is assured. 

11 Willie‘s Drooned in Yarrow 
Trad. 
I first heard this Border song sung by the MacEwan brothers, Rory and Alex, around 1957. Their important contribution to Scottish Folk song was not always acknowledged by the politically orientated folk song community of the day, due to the brothers‘ perceived privileged background. The song is about a lassie who has been “twined o‘ her marrow” i.e. parted from her lover. 

12 Faraway Tom 
Dave Goulder 
This song reminds me of a travelling man who used to pay an annual visit to my junior school in Ayrshire. He would tell tales of the countryside to the assembled classes, and also fascinate us with his ability to play tunes with a pencil on his remaining two front teeth. Dave Goulder, who is well known for his “January Man” song and others, was a regular presence on the early Revival folk scene, but moved to the North of Scotland to teach the craft of dry stone walling. 

13 Traivellers Joy 
H. Fullerton. / Trad. 
In this poem, Helen Fullerton tells the story of a travelling lass, who worked in the canteen of the Shira Dam Project, near Inveraray. She was the object of a siteworker‘s affection, but declined his advances, refusing to walk with him up the Shian (fairy) hill. The original tune is traditional, but has been subject to various arrangements, including that of McMorland / McIntyre. 

14 Lang Road Hame 
H Gilchrist 
I originally wrote this as a poem, and it was some time before I composed the tune. In this version, an itinerant farm worker expresses his love for his partner throughout the long years of frequent absence. The album title is taken from a verse of the poem, and the cover is a photo of the isle of Arran, in the Firth of Clyde, which was taken by our friend, Eve Mathews, now resident in Sidmouth. 

15 Scotland 
Sir Alexander Grey. / H. Gilchrist 
I came across this poem, written by the Scottish economist, in a book on whisky, given to me by a friend. For some bizarre reason this, along with several other such unrelated poems, was also included. I later discovered that the particular verse which I selected as a chorus is now etched on a wall of the present Scottish Parliament. 
The Trysting Fair at Falkirk
A rousing song
The Gowden Locks o` Anna
Burns wrote this poem during an impassioned affair with the niece of the innkeeper of the Globe Tavern in Dumfries. She bore him a daughter
Sample not available
Turn Ye tae Me
This rather gloomy poem by Christopher North was set to a old gaelic rowing melody
Sample not available
Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom
This is one of the many versions of an old ballad collected throughout the United Kingdom. The devil is disguised as a knight in this case
Sample not available
Glassmaker‘s Hand
Colum Sands is a popular visitor to my local Folk Club
Just a Boy
I was much taken by this little sentimental song by Alan Reid
Sample not available
The Shian Road
This is a poem written by Ian as a tribute to his father
Sample not available
Strong and Faithful
This was written by the duo “Selkie” for a special gathering of the Clan Maclachlan
Sample not available
John Condon
There is still debate concerning the true identity of the soldier whose headstone lies in the Poelkapelle War Cemetery
The Menzies Tree
Gordon Menzies
Sample not available
Willie‘s Drooned in Yarrow
I first heard this Border song sung by the MacEwan brothers
Sample not available
Faraway Tom
This song reminds me of a travelling man who used to pay an annual visit to my junior school in Ayrshire. He would tell tales of the countryside to the assembled classes
Sample not available
Traivellers Joy
In this poem
Lang Road Hame
I originally wrote this as a poem
Sample not available
Scotland
I came across this poem
Sample not available

Folk North West

Derek Gifford

Hector Gilchrist is a very seasoned performer having over 50 years of experience singing in folk venues all over the country with occasional forays abroad. He is one of those much overlooked artists who should be better known than he is due to his exceptional singing qualities. He has a rich, wide ranging tenor voice that is a delight to listen to. This is Hector's fourth album with Wild Goose.

He opens with Bryan McNeil's well known The Trysting Fair at Falkirk his fine vocals enhanced by lovely close harmonies from Moira Craig and superb musical accompaniments from the talented Vicki Swan (flute, pipes, nycalharpas, double bass and harmony vocals) and Jonny Dyer (guitar, accordion, piano and harmony vocals) all of which add a great deal to the overall production. This sets the scene for most of what is to follow which is mainly Scottish material as one might expect.

There are a number of other fairly well known songs on the album such as Lay The Bent Tae The Bonny Broom, Ian McCalman's wistful The Shian Road, the braw Scot's Border song Willie's Drooned In Yarrow and Dave Goulder's Faraway Tom which has a lovely piano part accompaniment from Jonny.

Not being one to hide his writing talents, Hector also includes his own lyrics to Strong and Faithful a forceful Scottish song written for a special gathering of the Clan Maclachan, Lang Road Home which he originally wrote as a poem before setting the music to it and the tune to Scotland to accompany Sir Alexander Grey's poem.

Of the songs I've not heard before that stand out on this album are the sad lament to John Condon an  Irish soldier killed in the First World War which is a very appropriate song at this time of remembrance and the fascinating Glassmaker's Hand written by Colum Sands which is a rather esoteric subject to use for a song but which builds nicely in both lyric and musical accompaniment. Alan Reid's song, Just A Boy is another memorable 'new' song.

Overall this is another classic album from Hector and the Wild Goose team. Well worth having!

Fatea

Pete Bradley

Hector Gilchrist has an amazing voice. Not only does he have tremendous range, his voice oozes warmth. The title of his previous album, �Ingleneuk�, sums his voice up perfectly: on a cold winter's day you could thaw out your frozen soul in front of it. The annoying thing about him, though, is his voice seems effortless. He seems to sing as easily as other people might breathe. You'd have thought to create a sound as beautiful as that, you would need to exert, or at least pretend to exert, a lot of hard work.

Either as a solo artist, as part of the duo Selkie, or as part of the trio Soiree, Hector has been a staple of the British folk scene for decades. In fact, �Days O Grace� is released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first performance, which was at a folk club in Crewe. An amazing achievement, unlikely to be attained by many.

The majority of the songs on Days O Grace are Scottish songs, or are related to Scotland. To a sassenach like me, I'd always assumed that most Scottish songs were written by Robert Burns, so this album, as well as being a pleasure to listen to, is also an education to me: of the fifteen tracks, only one was penned by Burns. But what a beautiful track. The Gowden Locks o' Anna was written about a nineteen year old barmaid, Ann Parks, who Burns had an affair with. Ann gave birth to Burns' child, Elizabeth, who was brought up by Burns' wife as one of her own.

Hector is accompanied by three wonderfully talented musicians on this album: vocal accompanianment is by Moria Craig, and Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan play just about every single instrument you have ever heard of, plus a few more.

Not only is this an album of delightful songs that are sung beautifully, the arrangements are wonderful. Ian McCalman's �The Shian Road� starts off with Hector alone providing the vocals. Just when you think that the song couldn't be better, Moira's harmonies fade in gradually and wow, the song suddenly becomes even more exquisite. At the end of it, I felt I too was mourning for never being able to see the Shian Road again even though I've never seen it. Similarly, Alan Reid's �Just A Boy�, again starts off beautifully, and most musicians would be happy if the track stayed like that throughout, but a nyckelharpa solo from Vicki adds an extraordinarily poignant break in the middle.

The video attached to this review of Hector singing Tom Goulder's �Faraway Tom� at the Ram Club in Thames Ditton, is delightful. On the record, accompanied by Jonny's keyboards, the song is even better.

Hector wrote the lyrics to �Strong and Faithful� himself, the music being written by his Selkie partner Liz Thomson, and he wrote the music to �Scotland� to a poem written by Sir Alexander Grey, but there is only one song on the album, �Lang Road Hame� that was completely written by Hector. �Lang Road Hame� is a masterpiece, having been written in archaic Scottish, which is an amazing feat. The title of the CD, �Days O Grace� is taken from the lyrics to �Lang Road Hame�.

Days O Grace is a beautiful album and it has whetted my appetite to hear more original material from Hector. Maybe his next album could be all his own songs.

Mardles

Mike Rudge

A search of the internet will quickly reveal a reference to Hector Gilchrist as "golden voiced". This is a perfect description. On first listening to "Days of Grace", the fourth offering of Hector, my first thought was how beautiful his voice is, but I can't describe another bloke like that can I? His soft tenor tones have the ability to soar through much of the traditional Scottish fare on this album. He is joined with Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, although with no reference to their contribution on the individual song sleeve notes it was difficult to follow their exact contribution. Suffice to say that the musical accompaniments are sound and unobtrusive.

An established performer on the folk scene, Hector Gilchrist has appeared throughout the British Isles, Ireland and beyond. Born in Ayrshire, he has been involved in folk for many years. Hector sings traditional and contemporary folk ballads and is acknowledged as one of Scotland's finest interpreters of Robert Burns' songs, although only one such song appears on this album.

There is a combination of traditional and new songs on the album. Ranging from the beautiful The Gowden Locks o' Anna, a poem by Robbie Burns about his affair with a girl in Dumfriers, to Strong and Faithful, a marching song written for Hector's duo "Selkie " about the clan Maclachlan, of which the Gilchrists are a Sept (a family that follows another family's chief). A particularly poignant song that many may know is John Condon, about a young Irish boy that died serving in the British Army in the Great War included in the album to mark the 100th anniversary. My favourite track is Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom, a tale of the Devil disguising himself as a Knight and visiting some young ladies posing "questions three". The final track is a rousing patriotic song titled simply Scotland, that would vie well with Flower of Scotland as a National Song.

This is my country,

The land that begat me.

These windy spaces Are surely my own.

And those who toil here In the sweat of their faces

Are flesh of my flesh, And bone of my bone

Written by the academic economist Sir Alexander Grey the above words can be found on the Canongate Wall at the new Scottish Parliament building.

Although the album is delightful, it must come with a word of warning for those of us with an English pedigree. Anyone who has read Burns or been to a Burn's Night will be aware of how difficult the Scottish dialect is to follow at times! A translation dictionary would not have come amiss when listening to "Days o' Grace"!

Folk Monthly

Mike Wild

This is Hector's fourth album on WildGoose and contains mainly Scottish material. He is joined by multitalented instrumentalists Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer. Moira Craig provides lovely close harmonies on some tracks.

Hector grew up on an Ayrshire farm and came to work in England in 1961 but never lost his feeling for his heritage. I have seen and heard Hector and his guitar a number of times in the 50 years that he has been performing, as he must be around my own age, and have always admired his baritone/tenor voice and his range and particularly his renditions of Burns' songs; on this CD he sings the randy bard's tribute to The Gowden Locks o'Anna. There are 15 tracks and some will be familiar to English audiences and some not so well known. The sleeve notes are very informative and they list the writers which is always helpful.

The first track is The Trysting Fair at Falkirk by Brian McNeill and sets the scene for rural life when animals were brought down the drove roads and farm workers were 'fee'd'. There are quite a number of other recent compositions about the old days on the album and this seems to be a feature of the second and even third folk revivals where gaps in our history are filled in. The Shian Road, The Menzies Tree and Lang Road Hame (from which the album title is taken) are in the same vein. To balance these there are traditional songs Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom and Willie's Drooned in Yarrow, also the moving Faraway Tom by Dave Goulder and TraivellersJoy by Helen Fullerton set to a traditional tune .

I half expected at least one on The Referendum and the parcel of rogues' etc. but no. Hector does however show the colour o' his plaidy on Strong and Faithful and his love of his native land shines through! The final track is Scotland a poem of praise by Sir Alexander Grey the economist. The verse selected as a chorus is now etched on the wall of the Scottish Parliament.

EDS

Robbie Thomas

Hector Gilchrist is a Scottish-born singer whose musical background started in childhood in a musical family in Ayrshire.  During his chosen career as a dairy technologist in Cheshire, Aberdeenshire, County Clare and Surrey, where he finally settled, he maintained a consistent involvement in local folk clubs.  Hector's singing has a powerful intimacy that is carried by a rich, mellow, warm-toned voice. His vocal style harks back to an earlier era in Scottish song, reminding me more of the great Calum Kennedy than of Andy M. Stewart or Dick Gaughan.

On Days o' Grace � his fourth album for WildGoose Records � Hector is joined by Vicki Swan (flute, Scottish smallpipes, English Border pipes, double bass, vocals), Jonny Dyer (guitar, accordion, piano, vocals) and Moira Craig (vocals).

The presence of these fine musicians and singers, allied to some superb arrangements, acts as a foil to Hector's fine voice in a selection of mainly Scottish material � traditional, contemporary and selfcomposed.  Picking out individual tracks for mention is always an invidious task, but I was particularly taken by Hector's performance of 'The Gowden Locks o' Anna', written by Robert Burns during his impassioned affair with the niece of the innkeeper at the Globe tavern in Dumfries, with its unrepentant final verse. The CD's opening track, Brian McNeill's 'The Trysting Fair at Falkirk' has long been a personal favourite of mine, and Hector and his band of musicians deliver it with aplomb.



On Days o' Grace, Hector Gilchrist proves himself to be not only a skilled singer in the Scottish tradition, but also a fine interpreter of contemporary, tradition-based songs and of the songs of Robert Burns.  Now that he is semi-retired, Hector claims to have the time to take on further musical challenges and, on the basis of this CD, I hope that he does.

fRoots

Bob Walton

Celebrating 50 years of singing in folk clubs up and down the British Isles, if nothing else Hector Gilchrist deserves a long-service award.

His fine tenor voice works well on his choice of songs � nearly all Scottish, many well-known � and is decidedly easy on the ear.  Contemporary numbers such as Brian Mac-Neill's Trysting Fair At Falkirk and Alan Reid's Just A Boy sit happily alongside Burns and the traditional, there are fine performances of John Condon and Ian McCalman's The Shian Road, and a couple of his own songs.  

He ably accompanies himself on guitar (most of the Guitar accompaniments come from Jonny Dyer - Doug Bailey) while Moira Craig adds additional vocals; Vicky Swan and Jonny Dyer tastefully round out the arrangements and provide some backing vocals as well. All in all an album worthy of attention, and a pretty fine celebration.

The Living Tradition

Pete Heywood

This album is a gem. It's one of those that you put in the player and it stays on repeat for a while. Hector has put together a lovely bunch of songs, some standards, some that were well due a sympathetic outing and one or two that others will surely now pick up on.  

If I were forced to single out one song it would be Hector's version of Faraway Tom, written by Dave Goulder, he of The January Man fame.  On other listenings though, I could easily pick out different sets of highlights.  The overall feel of the album puts it firmly into the traditional category, yet the greater proportion of the songs are from relatively modern sources. Hector has taken songs from writers including Brian McNeill, Colum Sands, Alan Reid and Ian McCalman and stamped his own personality on them.  Such is the way that great songs enter the tradition.

If we had a star system I'd give this 5 stars for an English audience and 4 and three quarters for a Scottish one.  And this isn't meant to be a serious criticism, more a comment that this voice deserves to be heard more in Scotland, together with a thinly veiled plea for him to come home for a visit at least. At times the accent is slightly too refined, something which may have come from a need to make himself understood in southern climes.  This is illustrated most in the contrast between his singing on Turn Ye To Me and the more natural expression on the following track, Lay The Bent Tae The Bonnie Broom. I'm not sure how appreciated Hector is in his adopted home, but there is a gap back in Scotland that this album neatly fills.

I could make a similar comment about the accompaniment, but almost in reverse.  I once saw Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan performing live and was transfixed by Jonny's guitar playing.  The only criticism I could level, although none was really needed, was that somehow the sound of the guitar through the PA was too perfect � it missed that slightly rough edge that differentiates the fiddle player from the violinist.  On this album the sound is just wonderful. Credit is probably due in part to Doug Bailey's magic in the studio, but the glorious sound has to be there in the first place.  

The choice of Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan as accompanists is an inspired one.  They bring a range of instruments and a total sympathy with the singer and the songs.  Adding Moira Craig on vocal harmony completes a package that surely moves this album into the classic and required listening categories.  Do your ears a favour and give this one a listen.

R2

Dai Jeffries

It's refreshing, amongst all the pushing of envelopes and breaking of boundaries, to hear an album of good songs rooted in the

tradition and that is WildGoose's raison d'etre. Doug Bailey is untroubled by the vagaries of fashion and doesn't worry that an artist records at irregular intervals it would seem to be seven years since Hector Gilchrist's last album.

Hector is accompanied here by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, rapidly becoming the WildGoose house band, with Moira Craig adding vocal harmonies. The songs are old and new, traditional and original, writers including Robert Burns, Colum Sands, Ian McCalman and Dave Goulder. Some are infused with the vein of sentimentality that often runs through Celtic song. In truth, only Alan Reid's 'Just A Boy' crosses the line but I'll forgive Hector that aberration.

Top tracks for me are Brian McNeill's 'The Trysting Fair At Falkirk', a sparkling opener, and 'Lay The Bent Tae The Bonny Broom', a classic ballad that I never tire of hearing. Hector mixes solo a cappella with denser arrangements with ease   Swan and Dyer pull out all the stops for the closing 'Scotland' for an album that is perfect for whiling away an hour.

Around Kent Folk

Bob and Kathy Drage

Hector comes from a family well versed in singing and when he realised it was fifty years since he first sang at a folk club, decided it was time for another cd. He has a fine tenor voice with an incredible range and his interpretation of mostly Scottish songs is second to none. The traditional includes Burns 'The Gowdon Locks o' Anna', 'Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom' and 'Willies Drooned in Yarrow'. Hector's own songs are 'Strong and Faithful' written for the Maclachlan clan and 'Lang Road Hame'   an itinerant farm worker expressing his love throughout years of frequent absence. Then there's 'The Trysting Fair at Falkirk'  Bryan McNeil: Colum Sands 'Glassmaker Hand'; Ian McCalmans 'The Shian Road' and 'Faraway Tom'  Dave Goulder. 'Just A Boy' by Alan Reid is about growing old. 'Turn Ye Tae Me'  Chris North, is set to an old Gaelic rowing melody and the eternal 'John Condon'.

Johnny Dyer and Vicki Swan do most of the accompaniments, whilst Moira Craig provides lovely harmonies on some tracks. A beautiful album that is sheer delight to listen to.

Whats Afoot

Claire Proetti

This recording of mainly Scottish material will appeal to those who like traditional music presented in an interesting and pleasant style. Hector has a beautiful tenor voice and is ably supported on vocals by Vicki Swan and Moira Craig. Instrumental accompaniment is provided by Hector himself on guitar, and also Jonny Dyer (guitar, accordion and piano) and Vicki Swan (flute, pipes, nyckelharpas and double bass).

Track one, my personal favourite, is `The Trysting Fair' at Falkirk   a rousing song telling of the famous Falkirk agricultural fair, with lovely harmonies and a beautiful flute introduction and instrumental. Hector's warm tone is perfect for this song. `The Gowden Locks o'Anna' is a defiant song by Robert Burns telling of his feelings for one of his many lovers, again a gentle and beautiful rendition, with a sweet flute instrumental.

`Turn Ye Tae Me' is a haunting tune,with a well chosen pipe accompaniment in this version while `Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom' is another take on this well known song, with its sad tale and memorable chorus. `The Glassmakers Hand' is a modern and interesting song by Colum Sands about the art of glass making with an excellent guitar accompaniment. `Just a Boy' has a fine double bass solo, while `Strong and Faithful' is a new song written for the gathering of the Clan Maclachlan from Strathlachlan, another stirring song which I enjoyed. It tells the story of the clan, Jacobite supporters, who suffered great losses at Culloden and forfeited their lands, but eventually returned to Chieftainship. It has a good accompaniment on the pipes.

`The Shian Road' is a lovely song written by Ian McCalman as a tribute to his father. It has a beautiful flute accompaniment and a great vocal harmony. `John Condon', a First World War song is appropriate in this 2014 recording, telling the poignant story of the death of a fourteen year old Irish boy in the British army, reiterating the cruelty and futility of that terrible conflict, while `The Menzies Tree', with another beautiful flute accompaniment, was poignant for me, having spent much time in and around Menzies land and castle near Aberfeldy. The unaccompanied rendition of `Willie's Drooned in Yarrow' really shows the quality of Hector's tenor voice. `Faraway Tom' written by Dave Goulder, with a lovely piano accompaniment, is a slow and gentle song about a country dwelling eccentric, while `Traiveller's Joy', a very enjoyable song with a good chorus, tells the story of a young traveller lass who declines a potential suitor's advances whilst working on the Shira Dam project near Inveraray. The `Lang Road Hame' is an evocative love song written by Hector himself, from which the CD title is taken, whilst the last track, `Scotland', a tribute to the country itself, is from a poem by Sir Alexander Grey adapted into a song, with the chorus verse now etched on the wall of the present Scottish Parliament.

This CD is a thoroughly enjoyable and varied selection of material which will surely appeal to a wide audience, but particularly those who enjoy traditional Scottish music. The standard of musicianship throughout is very high, with well chosen harmonies and a wide variety of instrumental accompaniments.

Shire Folk

Tony ONeill

'tho I mind o the days o sun and sang, days o grace by Kyles braw strands   the evening gowd oer Aran's bens ..: (extract from 'Lang Road Hame; originally a poem by Hector quoted on the cover of the CD). It's 50 years since Hector headed south in 1961 with an eclectic song bag and this is Hector's fourth album on the WiIdGoose label, containing mainly Scottish material which now forms the basis of his live performances. He is accompanied on the recording by Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer and Moira Craig. A formidable trio!

Hector's voice is a light tenor that well suits the material, being of a lighter, sentimental sort and making for a gentle, unchallenging listen, but a voice which nevertheless rings out with a bell sharp clarity that cuts through the brogue. This is aided and abetted by the lightly administered, but superbly performed, backing vocals and music.

The material is a balanced mix of traditional written and self penned, ranging from Burns, 'The Gowden Locks o' Anna'; border ballads, 'Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom' and 'Willie's Drowned in Yarrow'; love songs such as 'Traiveller's Joy'; the obligatory First World War story, but still a beautiful one, 'John Condon', telling of a young Irish soldier who lost his life in Belgium in the slaughter of 1915, and so on.

Amongst the fourteen tracks,'Bonny Broom' and John Condon'stood out for me.

The package has dramatic photographs of a sunset silhouetting the Isle of Arran with a pull out booklet giving a brief explanation of each song.

Folk London

Nygel Packett and Sue Whitehead

Half the Goose (clue   not Nygel) is a sucker for Scottish songs and a Scottish accent, probably due to her student days in Dundee. Most of the songs on this album are Scottish songs with known authors, the exceptions being Willie's Drooned in Yarrow and Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom.

Although this is Hector's fourth album, to our shame we had not heard of him before, but we really liked this CD. Hector has a lovely straightforward unmannered voice, and Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer and Moira Craig accompany it perfectly, vocally and instrumentally. They seem to know exactly what to add and when   which always helps!

Particular highlights for us were Glass Maker's Hand, a lovely track by Colum Sands, with some Simpson esque guitar accompanying and nice backing vocals which we think are by Moira, and a beautiful song previously unknown to us with lyrics by Robert Burns, The Gowden Locks o' Anna. There is also a very moving version of the well known John Condon, included to commemorate the centenary of WW1.

Our only reservation was the track Lay the Bent tae the Bonny Broom, which we felt was rather lacklustre, however this may be due to our love for John Kirkpatrick's rousing version of the same song (which John calls Riddles Wisely Expounded). That's a very minor quibble though, and overall we really liked this album.

We shall be looking out for more from Hector Gilchrist in the future!

(The Goose Is Out!)