Artist – Iain Thomson and Marc Duff
Title – NO BORDERS
Self-Released – IAT 003
“A contemporary folk singer and songwriter, whose work I happen to think has a very special edge to it.” Mike Harding
Iain and Marc are releasing a new duo album entitled NO BORDERS. The album is a collection of eleven new self-penned songs and features multi-instrumentalist Marc Duff, who also produced the album, along with guest musicians Gordon Maclean (bass), John Somerville (accordion), John Saich (bass) and Hannah Fisher (fiddle, backing vocals). The album is a collection of songs that are both personal and topical but still very much rooted by experiences of life in rural Argyll. Iain is now in the process of emigrating to Sweden and starting a new life and a new language, a process that will surely inspire new songs for the future and perhaps another CD. Title track No Borders is about what drives folk to jump on a boat run by money driven people with no regard for human life. They have no idea what awaits them at the other side of the ocean but they feel it must be better and safer then what they are leaving behind. The dilemma that faces refugees today is also very similar to the plight of the people during the Highland clearances when they boarded the ships with few possessions to emigrate.
Other notable songs on the album include The Glendale Martyrs; much of the afore mentioned Highland clearances took place without much resistance from the crofters. In Skye the crofters refused to pay rents and the people fought on many occasions with sticks and stones when the factors tried to administer force and arrest. The main leader of the rebellious crofters was John Macpherson of Glendale.The publicity created by this lead to great support for the crofters cause and eventually led to the crofting act that gave crofters security of tenure, and Winter Winds Blow, Iain’s main income over the years has been as a fencing contractor and it has taken him to some amazing places. He often employed one or two guys to make a team on bigger jobs. The song tries to encapsulate the beautiful surrounding landscape and wildlife, the thoughts that go through the head when working a lot on your own and just the sheer physicality of the job in sometimes harsh conditions. .
Fields of Dreams – A new Album from Iain Thomson.
“This record consists of twelve songs ….
….and each one is a triumph ”
RH – in Maverick Magazine.
“A contemporary folk singer and songwriter, whose work I happen to think has a very special edge to it. Southern Line has a very special meaning for me as a gigging musician… a cracking song from a cracking album” Mike Harding – Radio 2 Folk music icon.
“Thomson puts a modern spin in a dyed in the wool genre without losing sight of its proud traditions” – Terry Staunton – Uncut.
“He proves himself to be a very talented writer and a strong performer.” – Paul Kerr – Blabber and Smoke
“Fields of Dreams – we like that very much…” – Iain Anderson – Radio Scotland legend.
“Here’s a new release from the singing shepherd, Iain Thomson, launched last week, the title track from Fields of Dreams…..Maeve McKinnon, on the backing vocals and you may recognise Donald Shaw’s famous tune Calum’s Road – and very pretty it is too… – Iain Anderson – Radio Scotland.
“The Album is very touching and the stories behind the songs are what make it very special. The arrangements are first class, full of passion and emotion. Happy, sad, angry and poignant” – Mary Kathleen Burke, Celtic Music Radio.
“It’s a pleasant CD painting images of Mull over the centuries “- David Hawkridge – Taplas
I hope with every inch of my life that Iain and his fellow musicians will continue releasing albums of this quality, for people who are as unbelievably talented as they are (in particular Iain himself) should be given every opportunity to demonstrate their craft. RH – Maverick.
“Caught somewhere between the sentimental and deeply felt love of home often found in folk music and the political agenda of a Dick Gaughan.” John Davey – Net rhythms
Three of a kind…..
Iain Thomson, the “singing shepherd” from the Isle of Mull, has assembled a fine cast of folk musicians to help him bring his particular musical vision to disc. Caught somewhere between the sentimental and deeply felt love of home often found in folk music and the political agenda of a Dick Gaughan, this almost entirely self-penned album brings a selection of stories relating to Iain’s own life, the people of his homeland and the people he encounters whose story catch his fancy. Which means that he covers ground as diverse as his own experiences driving a truck from Glasgow down the M74 and M6 all the way to the tale of the press gangs at the time of the Napoleonic wars trawling the west coast for ‘recruits’.
Mostly, though, this album is a lament for lost times and a lost way of life; it is a fact that the west coast agriculture which has been Iain Thomson’s own working life has been in ever more marked decline in the last few years. The stock, cows and sheep, have been steadily disappearing from the landscape, and with them have gone all the people who worked with such a deep sense of connection to the land and to all their forbears who had worked the same land in generations past. The reasons for this decline are many and debatable; economic pressures and political pressures play their part – as they do in steel towns, mining towns and all the rest in other parts of the UK. On Scotland’s west coast, though, the old townships leave their ruins behind to induce a poignant longing for old certainties.
Iain’s songs deal with all these things with an almost naïve simplicity and marry the words to a lyrical, wistful set of tunes. There’s some gently beautiful playing from his many cohorts, with Marc Duff’s whistle, piano and bouzouki playing being particularly prominent. That whistle, especially, often conjures the frequently bleak grandeur of the west coast. A thing I learned about music of Gaelic origin a long time ago is that it sounds just brilliant in the open air, so I’d recommend you stick this on your personal player of choice and take a stroll up on a hill somewhere. You’ll see what I mean. Failing that, you could do worse than follow up the story of the title song, Fields of Dreams. Alluding to the Kevin Costner film, Iain’s song brings the tale of a west coast version of such single minded optimism. This is the true story of Calum MacLeod of Raasay who built a stretch of road to connect his own township to the council road in an effort to ensure the township’s survival. The tale is told in Roger Hutcheson’s excellent little book and is well worth checking out.
John Davy August 2010 – Net rhythms online.
FIELDS OF DREAMS
An emotional album that is touching to hear
Iain Thomson’s profession as a shepherd has led him to practicing his trade not just in his native Isle of Mull but also in New Zealand. He has used this experience in the songs which are to be found on this delightful album. A true genius at work, he is joined by twelve other musicians, who do a damn good job of supporting his lovingly done vocals.
This record consists of twelve songs and each one is a triumph with Southern Line being a prime example of this. It is one of the more rhythmic tracks and is simply a joy to hear. Inspired by Iain’s time spent as a truck driver and more specifically the M74/M6 road which he frequently travelled on. This is a song that should become a live favourite and is so good that I do not see Iain having to return to the wheel of a HGV for a very long time, as his singing and song writing talent is so exceptional that he won’t need to return to his professional driving life. Musician/Ulva Boatman is inspired by Nigel Scott who is a fellow musician and the boatmen Donald Munro who runs a small ferry from Mull to the island of Ulva. A fine tribute to these people, towards the end of the song it morphs into a tune which is bound to get the audience up on its feet. This is a fine way to end matters and leaves a sensational taste in the mouth long after hearing it.
I hope with every inch of my life that Iain and his fellow musicians will continue releasing albums of this quality, for people who are as unbelievably talented as they are (in particular Iain himself) should be given every opportunity to demonstrate their craft. RH
First off some Scottish folk in the guise of Iain Thomson and Field of Dreams. Thomson is a shepherd in Mull who has now released two albums where he proves himself to be a very talented writer and a strong performer. Although the album is self released it comes beautifully packaged with a booklet where Thomson explains the origins of the songs. With a wide variety of instruments including accordion, fiddle, tin whistles and bodhran adding a traditional air and with several songs referring to local characters or history this is a great listen. Tostery, named after a ruined village on Mull is a haunting lament for the lost generations of the Highlands that evokes the beauty of the glens. Press Gang/Shouting Numbers relates an historical tale from Napoleonic times and is as fine a modern folk song as I have heard in a long time. One minor quibble is that the song, Southern Line, relating Thomson’s time as a truck driver, although fine in itself, it sounds slight compared to the rest of the album.
Blabber ‘n’ Smoke
A Glasgow view of Americana and related music and writings.