Norrie McCulloch “Compass” (Independent, 2019)

As many of you will no doubt appreciate early Americana is deep-rooted in traditional Celtic folk music that emigrated over to North America from Scotland and Ireland.  No surprise then that Ayrshire born Norrie McCulloch is fully at home and at ease bringing together Celtic folk and Americana in this his fourth album ‘Compass.’ This pleasantly constructed, thoughtfully produced album brings to mind the songs and sounds of  Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, The Grateful Dead with some Eagles-esque harmonies making it a delightfully easy on the ear, songwriting tour de force.

The album features Norrie McCulloch on acoustic guitars, harmonica and vocal, Dave McGowan on bass and guitar, Stuart Kidd on drums, congas and vocals, Iain Thomson on guitar and mandolin, Marco Rea on vocals and Shane Connolly on drums and percussion.

There’s a grand atmospheric, cavernous feel to the stand out title track “Compass” which features some lovely spacey lead guitar work, congas and layered vocals which eventually fade away enigmatically into the night. Lyrically, the songwriting draws on familiar themes and language mostly written in the first person about journeys, reminiscences, driving through the night and missing loved ones: “with you in my life I can do everything”, “I’m hoping she’s safe and warm, I’ll be holding her tomorrow morn”, “these hills are a lonely place, wishing I could see her face”. While the musicianship and production are all very good it’s the songs that draw the listener in, coming from one of the finest Scottish songwriters around today.


Find your folky Celtic bearings with Norrie's Compass

About John Vaites 11 Articles
London based musician and music fan.
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