Image © 2000
Survival Records Ltd
(18 March 2000) The Celtic Groove Foundation is
comprised of Charlie McKerron and John Saich, core
members of Scotland's Capercaillie
(review), well-known as
pioneers in progressive Celtic music. In collaboration
with Charlie's cousin Laura McKerron, their debut
project Big Sky has released a debut album
entitled Volume 1: The Source (Survival (UK)
SURCD024, 2000). Certain to appeal to the band's
followers and fans of Celtic-pop crossover bands like
(review), Big Sky produce a
big alternative sound spanning a vast range of styles
from Celtic folk through bluegrass and into highly
accessible almost-pop. This is not traditional music
but it is equally dance oriented! Soundbites are
available at the project's
Lush contemporary instrumentals are balanced with the
sensuous, honeyed-style vocals of Laura McKerron whose
voice can best be compared to Andrea Coor in many of
the album's tracks but especially in the highly accessible ballad
"Angel." The opening track "Golden Hair" is classic Celtic-pop
fusion with lots of vocal harmony, traditional fiddle and lush
contemporary instrumentation effectively blended together.
Charlie McKerron's Celtic-style fiddle join contemporary instrumental
arrangements and Laura's tremendous vocal harmonies in "Delicious,"
a tremendously accessible song that is as much Corrs as it is Wilson
Phillips. Charlie is also credited with guitar, keyboards and vocal
contributions sharing these with John Saich who is uniquely
credited with the album's bass parts. "Millenium Girl" combines
an almost bluegrass sound with highly accessible dance-oriented
rock and roll with harmonica, banjo, light harmonious vocals,
rocking guitar and crisp percussion.
Celtic dance flavours drive the album's instrumental riffs
("New Sardinia," the worldly and multi-cultural "Las Temporadas,"
"Biro Guiro") and feature work of a vast bevy of
established contributing artists: Michael McGoldrick (flute/Whistle),
James McIntosh (drums), Ellidh Shaw (fiddle), David Robinson (percussion),
Frasier Spiers (harmonica), Phil Bancroft (sax) and Donald Shaw (accordian),
Mark Duff (whistle/bodhran/wind synth), Gary Finlayson (banjo),
Tom Bancroft (drums), Simon Bradley (fiddle), Ian McLeod (mandolin)
and Chris Stout (fiddle). Additional backing vocals are contributed
by Sandra McKay and Brian McAlpine. The "Biro Guiro" and "Las Temporadas"
instrumentals are especially notable.
"Fly So High" continues in a vein similar to "Delicious" with
wonderful vocal harmonies yet alludes to Martine McCutcheon with its more
contemporary dance beat and deeper lead vocal part.
The album concludes with the slow, sensuous and contemporary tune
"Ambient Beach," with a texture that the title suggests, world themes,
and evocative vocals drawing some similarity to the themes introduced
earlier in "Las Temporadas." The band have done some touring in Scotland
but we think a double bill consisting of Capercaillie and Big Sky would
be a wonderful live performance!
You can obtain Big Sky's new nine-track album at amazon.co.uk
here or via amazon.com (import)
here. Tremendous in every respect, this album is absolutely
worth a journey-a must listen!