Lauren MacColl – The Seer

Album Review | Fèis Rois | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Commissioned by Fèis Rois, The Seer is a new work by Lauren MacColl, one of the finest contemporary fiddlers in Scotland today.  If this was Prog Rock, this would no doubt be a concept album, but as we are knee-deep in the Scots tradition, let’s call it a commissioned suite, based upon the prophecies of the renowned 17th century Highland prophet, Coinneach Odhar, the Brahan Seer.  The ten original pieces that make up the suite feature both instrumentals and songs delivered in both English and Gaelic.  Lauren’s work as part of the all-female quartet RANT, the brilliant Salt House and as a member of Rachel Newton’s touring band, has stood her in good stead for such a grand project as this, where she invites some illustrious company to join her.  With accordionist/piper Mairearad Green, fiddler/pianist Megan Henderson, guitarist/mandolin player Anna Massie and percussionist James Mackintosh, Lauren has gathered an empathetic group of fine musicians, embellished further by Rachel Newton’s trademark Clarsach flourishes together with her unmistakable voice on “Taladh Choinnich Odhar” and the powerful last words of the prophet, “An Unkindness of Ravens”.  Wrapped in a sleeve evoking the brooding atmosphere of the bleak Highlands landscape, beautifully photographed and designed by Somhairle MacDonald, The Seer’s overall impact, musically and visually, is both contemplative and utterly dramatic at the same time.