Willie Campbell and The Open Day Rotation
THAT Willie Campbell sings in Gaelic for this Mod Fringe event is almost incidental.
He may be from Lewis, but Campbells first language as a singer and songwriter is English, as is shown by his experience with 1990s contenders Astrid and more recently the island based Open Day Rotation.
The lapsed Gaelic speakers reconnection with his cultural roots came with another island musician, Calum Martin, who suggested Campbell try singing in Gaelic and helped translate Campbells lyrics, originally written in English.
The album was released under Campbells own name, but bringing his full band along to The Ironworks added some muscle to Campbells shimmering pop tunes when needed, but could also fade away for those quieter moments.
The set list gives a good indication of Campbells own influences and tastes from the punky rock opening of Am Balach Coir to the gospel country twang of Faisg Air Mo Dhia, the familiar hymn Nearer my God, To Thee given a Nashville via Ness makeover. That saw Duncan Mackinnon, who also provided the evenings opening act with a more convention set of solo Gaelic songs, take over lead vocals, but this was Campbell's showcase as guitarist, songwriter and arranger as well as vocalist, hitting some impressively high notes on Rud As Fhearr.
To any doomsayers who regard Gaelic culture as stuck in the past, Campbells music is a clear response Tim Seasamh Seimh (Time Stood Still) is as gloriously catchy a slice of pop music as released in any language this year.
Heres to more from Campbell in heaven's own tongue.