Various Artists – Mac Ile: The Music of Fraser Shaw

Album Review | Fraser Shaw Trust | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

In May 2015, the Glaswegian piper, whistle player and composer Fraser Shaw passed away after his battle with Multiple Sclerosis.  He was just 34.  Almost immediately, Shaw’s friends and family set up The Fraser Shaw Trust to raise money for the relief of MS, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating Fraser and his music.  One of the Trust’s first major projects has been to create an album of Fraser’s tunes, performed by The Islay Sessioners, a group of fourteen musicians and some very special guests. The result, Mac Ile: The Music of Fraser Shaw, is a beautifully rendered collection of twelve tunes, most of them composed by the late Shaw and all of them dedicated to his memory.  Opening with the sweetly melancholic “Back to Islay”, with Kevin O’Neill laying the groundwork of the track with a stunning whistle, the album moves delicately between Shaw’s well-loved compositions including the beautiful “Trip to Glasgow” featuring Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin, the arresting Islay Skies and the energetic Cairns Set, featuring Peatbog Faeries fiddler Ross Couper, in memory of the lively sessions Fraser would host over drams and Jager-bombs at The Cairns Bar in Glasgow.  The Sessioners are also joined by pianist Mhairi Hall and vocalist Kathleen Graham for the outstanding Calum McDonald-penned piece “Clachan Uaine”, one of the most poignant moments on an album that overflows with great sorrow and celebration.