Staran – Staran: Album Review

Staran add another string to the powerful bow that is the vibrant Scottish folk music scene.

Release date: 21st May 2021

Label: Bandcamp

Format: DL / CD

For the record – Staran: path, trail, stepping stones. It’s a newborn collective of musicians who straddle the Scottish folk scene like Colossuses – or Colossi (…can you spot the desperation to go Partridge-like in using the plural?).

Also for the record, Kim Carnie (vocals), John Lowrie (piano, harmonium, Rhodes, percussion), Innes White (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin), Jack Smedley (fiddle) and the man who’s becoming a regular musical contributor to ATB, James Lindsay (double bass) make up Staran. The album also features backing vocals from Megan Henderson on two tracks.

James Lindsay’s Torus has already just had the acclaim of being an ATB Album Of The Month (our review) as well as him contributing to the new album by Gnoss. He seems to be rather well connected to an enviable array of Scottish musical talent. One that calls on a diverse range of styles and backgrounds. One that may be rooted in Scottish traditional music, yet pulls in influences from jazz, minimalism and experimental electronica. 

The themes of ‘places’ and ‘moments’ that thread through the album is a significant one. A product of their environment we may have suggested. That widescreen vista matching the music perfectly. The result of the collective’s inspiration is a rich and cohesive sound; atmospheric and textural with real acoustic instruments at the heart of it. A sign of the band’s conscious effort not to overcomplicate the production in order to focus on that collective mood and sound.

A clear case of less is more and with an air of refinement and a genuine transcendent quality (apparent in the very opening piece, Dà Làimh sa Phìob) that’s very occasionally broken by the need to let loose with a burst of frenetic release. The latter you can sense coming. You’ll find those points in the middle section of Balcarres and the silence that leads into the fiddle kick-starting Back To Glasgow. Casino too is built on that fuller and richer uptempo flavour.

We’ve gone on record recently At The Barrier with our endorsement of several examples of a particularly strong wave of Scottish folk music. Like the famous boy scout song goes, Staran is riding along on the crest of that wave.

Here’s Gaol a’ Chruidh:

Staran online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / other

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