I like a bit of tradition. So, apparently, does any self-respecting folk singer and Shetland’s Barry Nisbet duly draws on the tale of a sea voyage from 1908 to provide the inspiration for his album “The Springbank Voyage”.
“The Springbank Voyage” could have drowned in that story of the past but, remarkably, is resuscitated and transformed into a sort of concept album that takes a broader artistic approach to separate itself from the genre norm. There is much to appreciate here with fine fiddle playing – Shetland is known for musical prowess on that very instrument – and much that is elegant and appealing to the ear such as Eilidh Grant’s vocal contribution to “Fly Free.” The choice to narrate this seafaring tale as a mix of songs and spoken word also works well with the storytelling thus remaining steadfastly on course throughout the album.
“The Springbank Voyage” draws heavily on tradition and, in doing so, exorcises the ghosts of the past and makes them dance to the tune of today. Folk fans will easily be convinced by this album but even casually interested ears will recognise a story both well told and precisely polished.
Best song: The ear candy that is “Fly Free.”
Verdict: Reaches places ordinary folk can’t touch.