Album is like a ceilidh in your living room

This could be one of my shortest reviews yet. I love this album. That’s it!

OK, I’d better say a bit more. Osgarra, meaning audible, distinct or even emphatic, is an accurate description of this mighty debut by a band whose West Coast musical heritage is showcased by refreshing the traditional with stylish contemporary musicianship.

The recorded words of renowned Uist accordionist Iain MacLachlainn open proceedings and Beinn Lee confidently launch into their opening set of “Rills” starting with the ever popular Lexy MacAskill followed by The Ben Kenneth Reel, written by the band’s piper Micheal Steele and, cleverly turning into Air an Fhèill a-Muigh, ending up on Gordon Duncan’s wonderful Fourth Floor, all played at a quick but comfortable pace that gives the tunes room to breathe.

A spanking start is followed by a delightful song, Begin Again, written by guitarist James Stewart featuring a catchy tune written by the band’s fiddler Marii Thérèse Gilfedder, Suzie in the Alps.

A set of Strathspeys made my feet start to tap and then a timeless, beautiful song, Moladh Eubhal, written between the two wars by Donald MacDonald made me yearn to be in the Western Isles. Even without understanding the language fully, the passion in the words is clear for all to hear.

Time for a breath – or not as the band pull the trigger on the title track starting with Skye, a typically ebullient Fred Morrison jig and then the fabulously named and hugely uplifting A Bottle of Vodka, Twenty Malboro Red and £50 Cashback, setting up a toe tapping finish of Drambulance and B’ Fheàrr A Bha Mi ‘n Uiridh.

After Now Girl, the second and a quite beguiling song by James in which the whole band had a hand, things calm down a touch with a set of Uist tunes, that start gently enough but build into a full on scamper along the machair, intensifying further when Micheal’s pipes wallop in to fill The Hole in the Bath. A cracking set!

Whether by accident or design, the latter I suspect, this album has all the hallmarks of one of the best ceilidh’s you’ll ever have been to. By the time the strains of Runrig’s The Story have faded it feels like time for a singsong and a set of Gaelic Waltzes fill the gap perfectly. Close your eyes and you could be transported into any local hall, arms around shoulders and singing along to familiar tunes albeit guessing at the words!

There are so many elements to this album. As in a fine whisky, each nosing reveals deeper layers – scenes from the evocative Local Hero, a whisper of Deacon Blue perhaps, Friday night dances in Iona Village Hall – it’s all there but so much more as Anna Black’s piano  accompaniments, AJ Macinnes’s sensitive drumming and Pàdruig Morrison’s deft skills on the accordion hold everything together enabling the band to create a massive sound.

As we come to the final encore of the evening, Finale, a mammoth seven tune set including the perky Skylark’s Ascension, a classic trio of Gordy Duncan tunes, Davy Webster’s, Clueless, the ever tricky Ferret and closing with the excellent Ferry Road Shenanigans we’re sent home glowing, a little broken maybe, but smiling and happy. What a night and what a belter of an album!

Beinn Lee will be on tour from the end of the month, details of which can be found HERE.