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Neil Brookes of Shreds and Patches

reviews Ingleneuk by Hector Gilchrist

I first saw Hector perform when I was a young lad at our school folk concert in the heady days of the 1960s folk boom, and was struck by his clear tenor voice, light Scots accent and simple but effective guitar accompaniment. Hector has more than enough talent to succeed in the music business, but like so many folk singers, his career (in his case in the dairy industry) took first place and so his singing has always been a sideline.

It is a sad fact of life that there are world famous singers in the acoustic music genre with a mere fraction of Hectors ability. Happily, he now has more time for both recording and performing, either solo or as part of the duo Selkie. His third CD for Wildgoose records shows he has lost none of his vocal skills in a collection of 14 songs that by and large reflect his Scottish roots, but also include material by a broad range of poets and songwriters such as Janis Ian, Stan Rogers, Davy Steele, Violet Jacobs/Jim Reid and Andy M Stewart. Although I remember Hector mainly as a singer of Scottish ballads and street songs, there are only a couple of traditional items (Bogies Bonny Belle and Fair Helen of Kirkonnel). His passion for Scots poetry make the inclusion of a fine versions of Burns Corn Rigs and Tannahills Are You Sleepin Maggie a must. Hectors mellow guitar accompaniments are enriched by Vicki Swan, Johnny Dyer and Wildgoose house musician and Bellowhead Paul Sartin, who all do just enough to add interest, but allow the songs to breathe.

As expected from a Wildgoose CD, Doug Bailey handles the technical side of the recording with his usual finesse, to give a well-balanced, warm sound. This collection may not be for you if you only crave excitement in your music, but it will surely appeal to anyone who likes a good song well sung.  Hector is remarkable in maintaining a zen-like calmness in his delivery, which is probably why his voice is still so good after so many years. As the title of the CD suggests, this album is one for cosy winter nights in front of an open fire, with a wee dram to complete the scene.