Capercaillie, Sidewaulk

Colin Irwin

By Colin Irwin

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A Scottish marriage — literally — of happy opposites.

Produced by the redoubtable Donal Lunny (Planxty, Bothy Band, etc.) — whose brother Manus was in the band at the time — this fourth Capercaillie album was the one that made complete sense of their whimsical mix of Scots Gaelic songs and poppier self-composed music. They are, by definition, an anomaly bound together by the Gaelic roots of singer Karen Matheson (granddaughter of notable singer Elizabeth MacNeill) and her old school friend Donald Shaw, who's much more driven by contemporary influences. It was a marriage — literally — of happy opposites, giving them both traditional authenticity and modern appeal. They were often called a Scots Clannad but that would denigrate the maze of ideas and intricate threads combining to create a highly individual sound that became the blueprint for a new, more restrained Celtic music. They even cover a Dick Gaughan classic, "Both Sides of the Tweed," and come out smelling of roses.