Calum Martin – Imrich

Album Review | Leum Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Imrich (immigration), is Calum Martin’s 7th studio album, released forty years after the first release by his band Island Express. The album with its central theme of emigration draws its sound from this long career and musicians from around the globe. “Chi mi Bhuam” has a kind of Gaelic Country feel, with Hugo Lee’s Saxophone and Martin’s guitar shadowing each other to great effect. Calum delivers a fine vocal on “Na Ar Baile”, Konstantin Tomov’s violin sounds decidedly pipe like and the whole effect is rather lifting and ethereal. That uplifting feel continues on the glorious “Monsieur Grenier’s Waltz.” It dances and waltzes like a 21st Century Albion Dance Band. The tune carried by Fraser Fifield’s very sweet sounding Saxophone, Yves Lamberts accordion and the excellent Ross Ainslie’s pipes. Ainslie’s playing features prominently on “Cutting The Trees / He Sona Ho Sona.” The wonderfully atmospheric ensemble vocals are an album highlight. Calum is a master of writing and arranging with the layering of Saxophone, Fiddle, Cello and vocals on “Cha Chluinn mi ‘n Tràigh” especially being a thing of wonder and beauty. Not being a Gaelic speaker myself the words are loaded with mystery, but the arrangement and playing just builds that atmosphere too. “Le Destin de Donald” features the rich vocal of Yves Lambert with accompaniment by his trio and is powerful stuff. “The Tolsta Road”, with programming by Uri Avi and Lorne Macdougall’s pipes, is another step sideways as misty and electronic as the best of Niteworks. It is a testament to Calum’s writing, arranging and lightness of touch that some many disparate musicians weave together into such a cohesive and well woven whole. “O Mhàiri e Mhàiri” is a traditional song, beautifully sing and played. Once again the Cello, Fiddle, Saxophone and Whistles twine together so atmospherically, Chamber Gaelic Folk is definitely a thing. “Dr John Smith of Breasclete”, opening with Ross Ainslie’s pipes, blows away any chilled reverie, insistent piping and electronics as exotic as The Afro Celt Sound System are a call to get up and move. “Macleod’s Crossing”, is a classic tune written by Martin that keeps you that movement going. “Mairi” with Scott Neubert’s plaintive mandolin is another Gaelic Americana number sung by Calum closing the album in reflective mode. This is a, finely crafted, thoughtfully played and arranged album. Calum is a fine singer and writer, has great taste in supporting players and the vision to put together something beautiful.