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David Eyre of EDS

reviews Ingleneuk by Hector Gilchrist

Hector Gilchrist is one of those singers who has been singing since the 1960s, but never turned professional, preferring to stay in his day job in the dairy industry and not 'enjoy' the vagaries of life as a full-time folk singer.  Thus, I would guess that, despite his travels, he is not particularly widely known, although he does deserve to be so. Our loss, if this, his third record is anything to go by. Let's hope folk club and festival organisers move to rectify it, now he has retired from full-time work. He has a soft gentle voice from the west of Scotland that one could imagine is influenced by the climate there; the soft gentle rain of the area.

He has that indefinable knack, probably the result of maturity, of making his voice fit perfectly to each song and there are a wide range of songs on this album. There are two contemporary songs from Janis Ian, one well known song from Canadian Stan Rogers, and a Burns song, 'Corn Rigs'. Davy Steele contributes a ploughing song about Clydesdales that Burns could easily have written, and there's that well-known bothy song 'Bogies Bonnie Belle', where a traveller is seen as a better catch for a pregnant farmer's daughter than the baby's father, a farm worker. Hector sings all these with restraint and delicate changes of style.

Hector seems to have a real affinity for the poems of Violet Jacob, a Scots vernacular poet from near Montrose. These are set to carefully thought-out tunes, to my mind the best material on the album.

The album's accompanists deserve a mention: the small pipes of Vicki Swan, piano of Jonny Dyer and fiddle and oboe of Paul Sartin blend perfectly with Hector's voice.  Great production from Wildgoose Records.