Willie Campbell and Band – DiLeab: A Legacy

EP Review | Comhhairle Nan Eilean Siar | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5

DiLeab: A Legacy is an EP recorded by Willie Campbell. He was commissioned to write a set of songs that were then explored and developed with schools from Barra, Ulst, Harris and Lewis, the Western Isles. Students from The Nicholson Institute, Stornoway Primary, Laxdale Primary, Sir E Scott, Castlebay Community School and Sgoil Bhaile á Mhanaich then accompanied Willie on this EP, telling these tales of The Western Isles. The pairing gives the song a connection, a depth and a gravitas that they might not have had if Campbell alone had delivered these lyrics and tales.

“My Time Wasn’t At Hand” is a folk classic. An emotional tale of loss and leaving is sensitively delivered by Willie with fine backing from the youth choir. “Innse Gall” an anthem for the Western Islands is a straight duet with Willie and the childrens’ choir singing together, sometimes with accompaniment, sometimes a capella. “In Honor Of The Past” is a kind of Country or Americana call and response with lines shared or bounced between Willie and the choir. The spring in the tune and the uplifting vocals are strangely at odds with the lyrics dealing with the clearances. “We Sleep At Peace” is another County classic lyric and vocal, dealing with loss. Willie’s rich voice carries the verses well and the choir accompaniment on the chorus adds poignancy. “On A Wave To The West” is another strong song, with the band suggesting the Island origin and the Canadian destination of the song’s travellers and migrants. Again the pairing of the vocals adds an emotional weight to the telling of the tale.

This is an interesting set of songs and an inspired pairing with some strong songs and powerful performances.

Choice Track: “In Honour of the Past” (NSV 492)