Iain Thomson – No Borders

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Iain Thomson, brought up in Dumfries, piano player since the age of seven, guitarist and singer since his teens, one time Singing Shepherd; Hill Farmer on the Isle of Mull, brings a wealth of life and experience to his playing, song writing and performance. That life is etched into Ulla Ohman’s wonderful portrait photograph on the album’s gatefold inner. Iain’s evocative voice, balancing warmth, character and life delivers songs like “All our Stories” and “The Winter Winds Blow” are delivered with power and integrity. Backing from Marc Duff’s Whistles, Uilleann Pipes and layers of vocals adds punch and presence. “Reunion” is a stunning song of hope, Iain’s fine vocal and intricate guitar joined by Hannah Fishers emotional violin and shining backing vocals. “The City Sleeps” is a bright skittering tune with a great chorus, fine vocals from Iain and Hannah and some great folk flavours from Marc’s bodhran and whistle. Pathos and emotion blow through “Living on the Edge” an examination of alcoholism. Special mention must be made for Marc Duff’s atmospheric Wind Sythesizer on this track. “Glendale Martyrs” tells the tale of John MacPherson and The Glendale Crofters of Skye fighting against injustice and the clearances, a folk song in the making. “No Borders” uses a fine refrain on guitar and bouzouki to deliver an anthem of a song about refugees and the forced immigration during the highland clearances. The album closes with “An t-Eilean Alainn” a poem by Angus MacTavish, away at boarding school missing his home on Mull. Iain delivers a fine vocal and draws on his childhood classical piano lessons, Marc Duff adds an atmospheric whistle on this wonderful Celtic closer. From the easy on the ear, sing along songs like “Back to the Sheds” and “The Long Road Home” to edgier tracks like “Living on the Edge” or the surprising “An t-Eilean Alainn”, with excellent backing from some fine players this is a fine album of strong songs and strong performances.