Even in the Rain CD Synergy CD Ae Spark o Nature's Fire CD Live

Mojo Magazine

"Something stirs in that strange beast folk rock. Storming out of Scotland, Deaf Shepherd, all bagpipey rock 'n' reel are gobbling up bookings at this year's festivals.."

The Scotsman

Alastair Clark (5th December 1997) - BEST OF THE WEEK *****

"Bravely swimming against the powerful crossover tide, and avoiding those tempting rock-pools on the way, this young band deliver a magnificent blast of fresh, invigorating Scottish music, with Rory Campbell’s brilliant, unbridled Highland bagpipes leading the charge. No wonder Capercaillie’s Fred Morrison is singing their praises: “A real breath of fresh air that the Scottish music scene can be proud of.” I’ll second that. The ensembles are a glorious blaze of sound, the sheer swing and vigour of the Highland pipes propelling the band along on bare, string-driven rhythm patterns. Campbell switches to breathy whistle on some tracks, and still the itching, propulsive surge is there. Amazing. The bouzouki man Malcolm Stitt, also picks up the pipes from time to time so the fiddles of Marianne Campbell and Clare McLaughlin don’t get a lot of scope, but Campbell seizes her chance in the ‘Clanranald’ set to show her winning way with her variations on an old Gaelic air. All of this might be enough to mark out Deaf Shepherd as the folk band most likely to hit the high spots, but in John Morran they have a remarkable singer, a born storyteller capable of bringing the most musty of ancient ballads to perky, meaningful life. Morran is that relative rarity on the traditional scene, a singer who clearly feels what he is singing as well as understanding it. His version of Gavin Stevenson’s beautiful “Huntin’ the Buntin’” almost steals the show. "

The List

Norman Chalmers (9-22 Jan 1998) *****

"Certainly one of the year’s best Scottish albums, Deaf Shepherd’s “Synergy” was released at a recent Edinburgh concert that could have sold out twice over. Wholly, joyfully Scottish in feel, their second album is full of character, great tunes old and new, and a tasteful eschewing of the music technology and tempo excesses of similar young bands. John Morran’s Scots songs, especially Burns’ rarely heard ‘Winter O Life’, are set in imaginative frames, the instrumental music is exceptionally well played, the pipe tunes have inexorable energy (and some wild rhythms - try clapping your hands to Rory Campbell’s ‘Keys, Money, Fags’), and there’s a great care for detail in Tony McManus’ bright, classy production job."

The Herald

Rob Adams (20th December 1997)

"This young Scots quintet takes a major stride forward with this second CD, full of good tunes, many of them group originals, with lots of crisp, tight playing on fiddles, pipes and whistles. Strong rhythmical patterns strike a fine balance between melody and drive, and John Morran continues to flower as a quietly expressive singer of traditional songs and humorous ditties"

The Living Tradition

Frances Morton  (Issue 26, April/May 1998)

"If musical synergy exists, then no better band could demonstrate its meaning than traditional Scottish group Deaf Shepherd. The opening Jean Carignan set is a winner. With John Morran’s bright chordal introduction, and an enticing bit of ad libbing from Rory Campbell on low whistle, the musical tension builds, the tune starts and Deaf Shepherd are off. The clean, dynamic changes from reels to jig and back to reels, involves vigorous fiddling from Marianne Curran and Clare McLaughlin, and great strength and lead from Rory Campbell, this time on Highland pipes. But that’s not to say all sentimentality is lost in the vroom, for in John Morran’s stirring rendition of “Winter O’ Life”, Robert Burns has been remarkably complimented. Here Malcolm Stitt’s poignant guitar blends fiddle and whistle countermelodies smoothly with the vocals. The variety of their music, based on the Scottish tradition, ranges from old to new; from Marianne’s version of “Bothan Airigh Am Braigh Rainneach”, to Clare’s self penned jig “My Friend Sharon”. Another band written tune, Rory’s “Keys, Money, Fags” displays his amazing rhythmical skill. Very impressive all round"

Dirty Linen

Al Reiss  (1998)

"Sometimes its difficult to keep track of the number of fine young Scottish bands around these days, but once you hear the effort by Deaf Shepherd on its second album, you may find them easy to remember. Seven of the 12 selections are instrumentals and the dance tunes among them are characteristically fiery and energetic without sacrificing clarity or sparkle. Morran is an appealing vocalist. The lyrics of the songs are in the Scots brogue and Morran sings them that way with sincerity and authenticity and without any hint of trivialisation. High marks all round for Deaf Shepherd and Synergy."

Folk Roots

Bob Walton  (No. 179, May 1998)

"Deaf Shepherd are a young Scottish band that are rapidly building a reputation, and on the strength of their second album its not hard to see why. They manage to seamlessly blend skill and youthful exuberance with musical taste, great tunes and interesting arrangements, while keeping everything under control in a way that few bands achieve. The album title is highly appropriate and if they keep improving at this rate they are going to go a long way. Excellent. "

Folk World

Michael and Christian Moll  (Issue 2, December 1997)

"Deaf Shepherd are one of the liveliest bands on the Scottish scene, their youthful energy just blows you away. Definitely one of Scotland’s best bands and also one of the best new albums of 1997. Their second album shows them again at the height of their talents. John Morran sings five beautiful and tastefully arranged songs in Scots. The other 7 pieces are sets of cracking wild and beautiful slow tunes, some of them composed by Deaf Shepherd’s Rory Campbell, being one of Scotland’s best pipers and pipe tune composers…..make sure you catch Deaf Shepherd live or better, book them for your club! "

The Scots Magazine

April 1998

"The word Synergy means (more or less) that if you put two people’s ideas together, the total of ideas will be more than just two. The latest album from Deaf Shepherd shows just how true this can be, with a dozen tracks inventively and innovatively played and sung in a way that cannot fail to take a trick, both with their growing following, and with the as yet uncommitted. Pipes, fiddles, vocals - they are all there, along with an eclectic choice of material that fairly rattles the listener along from one peak of musicianship to the next, and from one fascination to the next. One moment it’s flying fingers in a set of pipe hornpipes, the next it’s a song on the Hawick twang, then a cracking 2/4 march, or a sad ballad whose origin is lost in the mists of time"

Rock 'N' Reel

John O'Regan (Issue 30, Spring 1998)

"Deaf Shepherd have become a welcome presence at festivals throughout Europe and at home. ‘Synergy’ proves the adage that roadwork tightens a band up no end. They use pipes, fiddles, guitar and bouzouki as their front line in an aggregation that is both tightly knit and equally spacious. ‘Jean Carignan’ typifies that description, with Rory Campbell’s pipes and the twin fiddles of Marianne Curran and Clare McLaughlin blowing hell for leather. John Morran’s sensitive handling of Burns’ ‘Winter O’ Life’ adds subtle light and shade. The promise that Deaf Shepherd previously exhibited has been worked on and honed down into something at once powerful and highly accomplished"

Shreds and Patches

Brian Douglas (Issue 13, Summer 1998)

"To quote the introduction from the sleeve ‘For those unacquainted with Deaf Shepherd and their music - there are a number of surprises waiting to be unveiled’. This is not an understatement. There is a depth and feeling throughout all the tracks which echoes the band’s obvious pleasure and joy for the music. The balance of music and song throughout is good, and the end is reached all too soon. Playing through again still leaves you wanting more. The music is powerful, deep and sucks you into the beat. You won’t fall asleep with this playing - watch out for track six."

Folk Tales

Chris Woods, Senior Reviewer (Midsummer Eve Issue, Summer 1998)

"By some quirk of either geography or lack of attention on my part I have managed neither to hear Deaf Shepherd’s first album nor to have heard them play live. Listening to Synergy, I realise these are both omissions on my part that require remedial action in the near future. Because their name is a play on name of a certain heavy metal group I was expecting Deaf Shepherd to be rather more ‘rogueish’ and aggressive in sound, but not so. There is certainly plenty of energy and a lively feel to it but the album is a very smooth and polished production. The five person lineup …gives the band a distinct and very satisfying full rounded sound for an acoustic lineup ...the voices and instrumentals are absolutely great"