Urstan!Mairi Morrison and Alasdair Roberts

Urstan-A gaelic term, specific to the Isles of Lewis, for a baby’s head-wetting.

Urstan feels at home with rainy afternoons and hot chocolate. The music has that festive appeal amidst the meditative flavour that is traditional Scottish music. Listening to the first track  Mìle Marbhphaisg air a’ Ghaol will tell you that the people behind this album put their best efforts to make sure all details and nuances of sound are captured  to the last decibel. The Laird o’ the Drum is an English language ballad that relies on spare arrangement making way for more vocal clarity. Here Mairi Morrison offers the backing to Alasdair Roberts. Làrach do Thacaidean is a playful Gaelic song with that feet tapping hip swaying rhythm. The rolling drums are crunchy enough to make you roll your eyes with pleasure. Never Wed An Old Man reminds me of those funny traditional songs that have that tongue in cheek kind of sarcasm that never fails to raise laughter.

E Ho Leigein is sung a capella during the first verse.  Here Mairi’s voice gathers more magnetism and grace. Fiullaigean has both Irish and Scottish arrangement. The clarity of the instrumental parts are really something that is ever-present in this recording. Hion Dail-a Horo Hì is  a kind of puit a beul song that will catch your attention with its vocal arrangement. Here Mairi sings the parts of the chorus using her voice as an instrument with percussive force. The Tri-Coloured House is a ballad that starts with a fiddle then blossoms into a full set of other instruments plus vocals by Alasdair. The beauty of simplistic  guitar driven music hits home in the enchanting   Am Faca Sibh Lilidh Tha Mise Ri Lorg?

My curiosity was aroused with Ailein Duinn. This has been covered by Capercaillie and I thought something like this(especially after being in the Rob Roy soundtrack) will be hard to top. But Mairi’s vocal rendition is mind blowing. The instrumental arrangement for this track is genius! The Whole House Is Singing  is the most cheerful track I heard from this album. I think I might have smiled a lot all through the length of this song. Leanabh an Òir  closes this wonderful album. The track is wrapped in spare arrangement and clear sonic mixing that everything about it feels like gazing at a clear pond and seeing your reflection. Drag City has created a unique album worth your ears. The liner notes as well as the CD box are a fun thing to relish. I give this album two thumbs up!


2 Replies to “Urstan!Mairi Morrison and Alasdair Roberts”

  1. You can sure hear what would become country music here in the States in this song. Beautifully done! Her voice is gorgeous for this ballad, too. The many sad songs are a way the people’s of Ireland were able to grieve for so much in their lives. Like the Blacks in America (pre-Civil War) sang to pass on the pains of life.


    1. Yes her voice is gorgeous and it blends well with Alasdair’s more folk pop oriented style. Universal music such as this one speaks for all no matter where you are in the world. And this is the beauty of Celtic music. It embraces everything.


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