Calum MacPhail – At Last: Album Review

Calum MacPhail, Scottish singer songwriter and  a member of the award-winning trad folk powerhouse band Hò-rò, releases his debut solo album…At Last.  

Release date: 14th April 2023

Label: FFITN Records

Format:  CD / Digital

This much-anticipated debut album from Calum MacPhail will not disappoint his loyal fans and introduces the uninitiated, like me, to a wonderful talent. 

The lively opener, The Mermaid, is a catchy traditional maritime song that puts you in a Celtic mood as he sets his musical stall out. Whilst the majority of the songs are composed by Calum and Sean Cousins he is not afraid to tackle country standards like Bellamy Brother’s classic Let Your Love Flow and add Celtic flavour with an accordian. The title track, At Last, is an uplifting and heartfelt number about the lessons learned in a relationship.

Calum says: “Releasing this record is a dream come true because I have wanted to make my own album since I was a wee boy. There are so many incredible artists that feature on the album, including a few people listened to growing up, which is incredible to me.”

Amongst these highly reputable musicians are: Sean Cousins on guitar and piano and award-winning, virtuoso uilleann piper Calum Stewart on whistle and wooden flute. Mark Scobbie plays drums, Ali Levack whistle, and Ivan Steele on saxophone and whistle. Calum MacQuarrie is on bass, with singer-songwriter Abigail Pryde and Callum Cronin on strings section with Ross Ainslie on bagpipes. Cathal Murphy features on electric guitar and backing vocals, with rising star RILEY also on backing vocals.

There is a nice balance of jigging instrumental tracks with aeolian pipes to the fore on tracks like Kenny Gillies and the album closer Zelda X Story,  cheery tunes like Wagon Wheel, passionate songs like Oh My Darlin’ and gently flowing songs like 7 Years Old. James Bay’s Hold Back The River is respectfully covered, again with Celtic pipes giving it a new twist. Calum is surely an extremely versatile artist which fans of Seth Lakeman would appreciate. They may be similar in delivery but musically quite different.

Calum says: “This is quite different to what I have recorded in the past. It has a lot of passion and energy. I would class it as Celtic country- pop.” The Celtic element and country elements are extremely strong on the album but as far as pop goes, it knocks what is known as chart pop out of the water musically despite its easy-on-the-ear quality.

Calum MacPahil: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

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