By Jason Small
Long Bhriseadh makes for a stunning entrance piece, serving as a prelude of sorts to the musical journey that we’re about to partake on, but Ailein Duinn is where the record truly gets going, and in extravagant style too. The piano/string combo is spotless and further refined by the outstanding production standard, while Karliene serenades us with these dazzling harmonies.
Emma Pollock is an artist I’m quite familiar with, and she gives Paper her usual magic touch, which also makes use of mechanical-based sounds that add a dose of character. Breakdown has a noticeably firmer sense of weight to it, with verses that lightly build and develop, in time venting into a sensational chorus helmed by Steven Lindsay’s memorable turn.
It only gets better with Spellbound, with its almost epic-calibre size and focus around Chris Thomson’s extraordinary performance which is honestly too good for words, and maybe it’s just me, but I think the song would be a perfect fit for a 007 flick.
Glittering Light is a beautiful piece; Jerry Burns playing a major factor, as expected; Settling Mist shines with these vivid Celtic overtones, and then we come to Chase The Devil, which is thoroughly breath-taking, making a fierce impact with its massive scale, magnetic lyrics, and the unreal, spine-chilling singing courtesy of the invaluable Marie Clare Lee.
After the brief yet nice Cridhe Aingeal, Somewhere In The Night is up next, once again featuring Steven Lindsay, and it’s favourably comparable to the site of his previous appearance, Breakdown, as they share similarly positive traits, and the Grahame Skinner-headed Sea Shanty No 2 (aka Wish You Were Here) has a warm and welcoming hue that makes it all the more engaging.
Chris Thomson fortuitously makes his return in Calvary, his esteemed voice again carrying such a presence that is both commanding and wholehearted, and this then leads into the lovely 1957 variation of Ailein Duinn, with Julie Fowlis sending us off in a yielding fashion.
Paul McGeechan has long etched himself as a great and experienced talent, as displayed through his tenures in Love & Money and Friends Again, but under his Starless alias, Earthbound has taken his merits to an entirely new level.
Through his excellent compositions intertwined with the tremendous efforts of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and beneficial range of prized guest performers, Paul has created an album which hits you hard with a mixture of feelings and has you impeccably entranced through these broad, astonishing atmospheres which shake the senses to their core. Nothing less than the work of a master.