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Pay The Reckoning

May 2002

"It's barely conceivable that this outfit are not signed to a major label! "Even In The Rain" is quite simply one of the most exciting albums which has emerged from Scotland (or anywhere for that matter!) in the past few years.

Deaf Shepherd are Clare McLaughlin (fiddle), John Morran (vocals, guitars, bass pedals), Mark Maguire (bodhran, snare drums, percussion), Rory Campbell (highland bagpipes, whistles, vocals), Marianne Campbell (fiddle, vocals, piano) and Malcolm Stitt (bouzouki, vocals, bass pedals).  Individually each is a searingly brilliant musician. Collectively, they marshal their talents to generate music of such intensity and power that it threatens to blow the listener away. Not metaphorically - but literally!

The album's opener "Milennium Village" (Islay's Charms/Farewell to Milennium Village/Pierre's Right Arm/Alex C MacGregor) delivers us slap-bang into the middle of their high-octane shenanigans. Rory Campbell's pipes are well to the fore and the other musicians weave and dodge around him, giving us tantalising glimpses of the musical pyrotechnics to come.

The tender song "Bonny Lass of Wellwid Ha'" leads us into the next tune set "Mince" (The World's End/There's Time To Wait/Mince In A Basket). The contrast with the opening set could not be more marked. Rory Campbell gives us the first two tunes on a very languid whistle, before taking a back-seat on the third, where McLaughlin and Marianne Campbell slide into overdrive and carry the set to its conclusion. On the next set "The Alborada Rant/Chessmen" - Rory Campbell adopts a restrained approach to pipering, with much of his work in the second tune consisting of drones and brief flurries of notes - allowing his fellow musicians to create a shimmering web of sound whose vaguely eastern themes and structures suggest the traditional music of Northern Spain as much as of their native Scotland.

Morran gives us a plaintive version of Burns' melancholic "Yestreen I Had A Pint Of Wine", before the band prove that he's in the premier league of trad composers (if you'll forgive the paradox) as they give us (with great gusto) his sublime waltz "Poilin Ni Lionsaigh".

The by-now familiar pipering of Rory Campbell introduces the next set "The Braemar Gathering/Morag MacNeil/ Tangusdale/Colin Clark Caruthers/New Hands/Donella Beaton". The sheer brilliance of all the players shines through on each and every tune in this complex set.

Another of Burns' compositions follows "I Coft A Stane Of Haslock Woo", with Morran and Marianne Campbell duetting to great effect before stepping back from the spotlight to allow Rory Campbell to give us a version of "Ben Wyviss".

Another incendiary set - "Jimmy Lothian's" (Uist Dance/Lady Madelina Sinclair/Grant's Reel/Dunse Dings A/Haggs Castle) - follows, fiddles to the fore.

The achingly lonesome "Mermaid's Song" leads us into the album's final tune set "Even In The Rain/The Quebec Breakdown/Unknown/Gregor Lowrey's". If we thought we'd heard tight and intense musicianship before, then this set gives us grounds to reconsider! Fiddles open proceedings; before long Rory Campbell glides in alongside them and his highly articulate playing dominates the second tune. He steps to one side for the third tune and then re-enters the fray with a vengeance as the band give us a show of strength on the closing tune.

The album's closing song - "Lost For Words At Sea" - which features guest vocalist Sam Brown - represents a shift in direction. Its sheer ethereal ambience should ensure that this song achieves maximum exposure. Here is a number whose appeal will extend far beyond the followers of traditional music and will strike a chord with many whose tastes are more mainstream.

If you're PC-enabled (and if you're not, then how come you're reading this!?), then the CD also contains a fascinating mini-documentary whose soundtrack features the band cranking out "Gie's A Drink Of Water/John MacDonald's Exercise/ The Deaf Shepherd/The Smith Of Raasay/The Aberarder Rant". Watch out for Maguire's first-class bodhran and snare-drum interventions!

Musicianship of this calibre is a rarity. Our advice is to get your ears around it at the first opportunity!

Visit www.deafshepherd.com for online sales and more information about this red-hot outfit. "

Irish Music Magazine

Alex Monaghan (21 March 2002)

"You won't hear a better example of traditional Scottish music. Deaf Shepherd are still a young band, and this is only their third CD, but they are already a match for anyone. Pipes, flutes, fiddles (two in fact), grand old songs, fresh new songs, and a couple of fine composers to boot: Deaf Shepherd have it all. Based around the tunes of Rory Campbell, one of the finest young pipers and composers anywhere, the band has gained a reputation for great tunes, exciting performances, careful arrangements, and thoughtful songs. On the evidence of this CD, that reputation is richly deserved.

Even in the Rain follows on from two acclaimed recordings on the Greentrax label, and it's a great credit to Deaf Shepherd that their first own-label release has managed to improve on the sound and presentation of their previous CDs. Greentrax is a hard act to follow, but these lads and lasses have pulled it off beautifully. The acoustics are crisp and clear, the warmth and excitement come across in abundance, and the packaging is equally professional.

There are a few notable changes to Deaf Shepherd since their last album. One is the addition of Irish percussion wizard Mark Maguire, who batters his way brilliantly through most of the tracks here, doubling the Irish membership of the band. And finally there's the musical coming of age of singer John Morran, who's always taken a bit of a back seat in the past. John's contribution to this album is immense. He sings five songs (three set to his own music) and is also the composer of the gorgeous air Póilín Ní Lionsaigh. I never rated John's singing very highly before, but I've had to revise my opinion since hearing this CD: he's now a master of his material, and his singing is one of the highlights of this recording. Listen to his delivery of the Robert Burns sultana song, or the Thomas Floyd poem set to John's tune.

As if this wasn't enough, Even in the Rain is one of those CDXTRA yokes. If you've a PC or a Mac, you can read the notes, meet the band, and see the video thanks to digital technology. You can even order more copies of the CD from www.deafshepherd.com - for many people this may be the easiest way to get it, and it's well worth getting. "

Fiddle On Magazine

Susan Mallett (Issue 7 Winter/Spring 2002 )

"This CD from Deaf Shepherd has a fresh and strong sound with it. You are taken on a journey through a lively and exciting set of different moods with a variety of reels, ballads and airs, across traditional Scottish traditions. The musicianship is very line with a good mix of pipes, fiddles, bouzouki, guitar, whistles, vocals and percussion. I enjoyed the way the musicians led off different tunes in turn, giving a variety of expression and tone. The band line-up is John Morran, Malcolm Stitt, Rory Campbell, Mark Maguire with Marianne Campbell and Clare McLaughlin on fiddle. Tracks include traditional tunes as well as compositions from members of the band and other contemporary musicians. Expanded track notes are available on their website. The CD comes with band photos and video footage of the band at their sell-out gig at the Edinburgh Festival 2001, and it was fun to watch the band enjoy playing together. Superb."

The Scotsman****

Kenny Mathieson (18 February 2002)

"This album has been a long time coming, but proves well worth the wait.

Deaf Shepherd's amalgamation of Borders and Highland traditions has always been a powerful one, and is now more refined than ever.  The instrumental sets combine expression with virtuosity in equal measure at any tempo, with Rory Campbell's pipes and the twin fiddles of Clare McLaughlin and Marianne Campbell prominently featured.

John Morran's superb singing illuminates lovely songs such as The Bonnie Lass o' Wellwid Ha' and The Mermaid's Sang, while rock singer Sam Brown is a surprise guest on the final track, the more contemporary Lost For Words at Sea."

The Sunday Herald ***** (5 STARS)

Sue Wilson (27 January 2002)

"There has been a fair old gap between albums for Edinburgh-based six-piece Deaf Shepherd with five years going by since their second release, Synergy.  With band members variously juggling day jobs and multi-track musical careers, matching up diaries to record presents a challenge.  Despite all this, their new album, Even In The Rain, decisively underscores their reputation as one of Scotland's most excitingly accomplished traditional acts.

With a line-up of twin fiddles, bagpipes (Highland, lowland and Galician), whistles, guitar, bouzouki, percussion and vocals, they're equipped to cover a lot of bases - melodic, harmonic, tectural, rhythmic.  Few can beat them for a headlong, full-frontal power charge, climbing up through the musical gears, as in the six-tune set Braemar Gathering or the giddying rush of the title track.  Their high-speed ensemble playing is formidably tight, yet they still consistently go the extra mile in terms of harmonic finesse and ornamentation.

The slower arrangements are put together with similar astuteness and care, which can be seen in the silky, sun-dappled waltz, Póilín Ní Lionsaigh, or the majestic, pulsing march, Chessmen, set to a tautly syncopated backing groove.

Then there's the crowning glory of John Morran's gentle, heartfelt vocals, heard to sublime advantage singing Burns - Yestreen I Had A Pint O' Wine, and I Coft A Stane O' Haslock Woo - along with a gorgeous, immaculately understated new setting of Robert Stephen's The Mermaids' Sang."

Scotland on Sunday**** (4 Starts)

Norman Chalmers (24/2/02 )

"The Scots sextet’s latest album is the first on their own label, and is also a multimedia CD ROM (PC and Mac) that includes sleeve notes, lyrics, video footage and interviews with the band, and the dozen tracks confirm DS as equal to the most imaginative and skilled among the great crop of contemporary Caledonian music-makers. The traditions of Highland piping are taken further by Rory Campbell’s brilliant compositions - his ‘Chessmen’ here is a subtle beauty - while John Morran’s singing gets under the skin of a rural Lowland sensibility. Clean production values and great playing on fiddles and frets. "

The Living Tradition – issue 47

Alan Mcintosh Brown

"Christmas may be long over but there are still some crackers left, and this is most definitely one of them. “Even in the Rain” is the third CD released by Deaf Shepherd and it reinforces all the good things the band have done in their relatively short career, confirming their position in the Premier League of folk bands in Scotland.

The usual line-up of John Morran (guitar, vocals), Marianne Campbell (fiddle, vocals, piano), Clare McLaughlin (fiddle), Malcolm Stitt (bouzouki, vocals) and Rory Campbell (pipes, whistles, vocals) is joined by bodhran and percussionist Mark Maguire and instrumentally they are as tight and disciplined as ever.

In addition, Deaf Shepherd possess the knack of making the correct choices to keep up the momentum in their tune sets. They can power on all cylinders when appropriate but other bands should take a listen to the “Braemar Gathering” set on this album where they cruise along subtly and let the melody carry the arrangement.

And don’t forget the songs: John Morran has matured into one of the finest traditional singers doing the rounds and this album more than suggests that he’s possibly unparalleled among present-day singers in his delivery of songs in Scots.

Standout tracks? I’d be quicker photocopying the sleeve. Nothing — repeat, nothing — lets down the album in any way. This is a band with all-round ability and presentation skills. It’s their first release on their own label and there’s even a bonus — the album is a CD-Rom and contains sleeve notes, lyrics, a video of the band in concert and interviews with its members. Thoroughly recommended. "

Inverness Courier

Calum Macleod

"They may be one of Scotland’s more traditionally inclined bands — look, no synthesisers! — but that has not stopped Deaf Shepherd from getting to grips withthe new technology. Their new self-produced CD comes with such tasty enhancements as a gallery of photos, songnotes and lyric sheet and, best ofall, a video clip of the band in áction. But never mind the extras, what of the music? Happily, Deaf Shepherd remain one of the more significant Scottish bands and with almost a decade behind them have tempered their natural energy with a musical maturity. Malcolm Stitt and Rory Camp-return to the fold after a slight diversion to produce their album, the excellent “Nusa”. Their Gaeltacht heritage, especially Campbell’s Highland pipes,with John Morran’s uncompromisingly Lowland singing voice, making DS one of the most representatively Scottish bands around. Look out also for special guest vocals from Sam Brown — yes, daughter of Joe and sometime Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra vocalist on the final track. "

www.folking.com

Pete Fyffe (17 January 2002)

"2002 has started auspiciously with this opening gambit from Scots band Deaf Shepherd. The future of folk is in safe hands while we have artists of this calibre. The band feature the high octane twin fiddles of Clare McLauglin and Marianne Campbell, Rory Campbell on pipes and whistles, John Morran on guitars and vocals, Malcolm Stitt on bouzouki and vocals and new boy Mark Maguire on percussion.

Opening with what sounds suspiciously like a Battlefield Band or Ossian arrangement (no bad thing!) the skirl of the pipes and rhythm guitar takes off like a rocket when the fiddles are given the lead and you can just tell this is going to be a great recording. The arrangements are crisp and dynamic and the addition of Mark's snare drum, which brings to mind the glory days of Five Hand Reel, gives the band a new dimension. I must admit that the final track 'Lost For Words At Sea' with special guest Sam Brown (yes, she of 'Stop' fame!) takes a bit of getting used to but after repeated listening makes more musical sense than I thought at first.

For those of you looking at value for money, the disk (played on your computer) also includes video footage and photos for good measure. Take my word for it, this is a must have CD for any discerning lover of good music."

Folk World Internet Magazine

Michael Moll

"Even in the rain" sees Scotland's best traditional band in its very best shape. It features the usual eclectic mix of wild traditionally based tunes, beautiful songs in Scots and wonderful calm tunes. The first tune "Millenium Village" directly bursts with energy and passion, while the second number provides a calming down with a quiet song, "The bonnie Lass o wellwid ha'", showcasing the talents of singer John Morran.

 Deaf Shepherd are without doubt the best traditional folk band that Scotland has produced since a long time. The band is still not playing full time; most members have "normal" day jobs, and maybe it is just the fact that they are a hobby band that keeps their music so lively, fresh and original. Deaf Shepherd gather the best talents of the Scottish music scene: John Morran can be claimed as one of the best singers in Scots language, Marianne Campbell and Clare McLaughlin are two highly skilled fiddlers, Rory Campbell is not only one of Scotland's best pipe and whistle players, but also one of the most talented composers of tunes in the Gaelic tradition. Then there is Malcolm Stitt, probably the most sought-after bouzouki players in the Scottish scene today (playing also with the Boys of the Lough); and finally, Mark Maguire is a great bodhran player.

"Even in the rain" is the third CD of Deaf Shepherd, after the celebrated releases "Ae Spark o Nature's Fire" and "Synergy". The concept has stayed the same, and the result is even more stunning. "Even in the rain" gives you the kick, more than any other traditional music release since a long time; and without doubt, this album will make Deaf Shepherd again many more fans. One of their fans is by the way Sam Brown (of "Stop" and Jool Holland Big band fame) - she was that fascinated by the music that she directly asked if she could join in. And as an offer of a good singer can be hardly rejected, we find on the CD a bonus track, Deaf Shepherd feat. singer Sam Brown: The song "Lost for words at sea", to be found in its original version at the debut album of Deaf Shepherd, is beautifully mastered by Sam with the band. Her comment: "It's really different for me, and I loved it."

For anybody who has never seen the band playing live, Deaf Shepherd have added a CD ROM part to the CD, featuring a video of a live concert well presenting the unique power, spark and flair so typically for this young band, mixed with some interview statements. This is probably the best album of Deaf Shepherd so far, and confirms their status as the very best folk band that Scotland has on offer. A gem from the first to the last minute; an absolute must-buy!

Taplas No.111

Keith Hudson (April/May 2002)

"FIVE years on from the excellent Synergy, this new release shows the Scottish six-piece oozing confidence and blasting out some of the best traditional music you are likely to hear. Comparisons are invidious but can be helpful. Deaf Shepherd are certainly reminiscent of Battlefield Band, but they are no clones. Their individuality and singular identity shine through and those attributes are firmly stamped on this album.

Separating them from the crowd are John Morran’s gentle, but persuasive singing, the glorious twin fiddles of Clare McLaughlin and Marianne Campbell and Rory Campbell’s commanding work on Highland pipes and whistles. Add to that Malcolm Stitt’s sensitive bouzouki and Mark Maguire’s percussion (particularly his bodhran work) and you have all the ingredients for a very special dish.

Even the unlikely sounding guest vocal spot by Sam Brown works. A well-balanced mix of strong songs and tune sets, are coupled with exceptionally tight playing and very tasteful arrangements.

It’s not an album from which highlights readily spring, as it never has any weak moments, but two magical moments worth savouring are the inspired fiddling on Jimmy Lothian - and the exquisite piping on the title track. For those with the technology, Even in the Rain is a multimedia CD, containing a lot more than the audio tracks. It’s high time Deaf Shepherd paid a visit to this neck of the woods."

Moray Firth Radio

Euan Martin (23 January 2002)

"Great to see the band back on such fine form! An outstanding new offering from the band that will undoubtedly pitch Deaf Shepherd back to the top of the league in the folk scene."