November 2013 sees the release of the eighth studio album from Alasdair Roberts entitled Hirta Songs. A collaboration with Scottish poet Robin Robertson, Hirta Songs is a concept album of sorts, inspired by the people, landscape and history of the remote Scottish archipelago of St Kilda**. The seed of the record lies in Robertson’s 2007 visit to the islands; upon returning back in the Hebrides he wrote two poems inspired by St Kilda, The Well of Youth and Leaving St Kilda, but he knew that the islands weren’t finished with him and, 6 years later, Hirta Songs is the result.
Most of the album’s 10 tracks sit in familiar Alasdair Roberts territory; exquisite contemporary folksong with a traditional slant which has Alasdair’s distinctive voice and deft guitar picking at the forefront, but the weight of Robertson’s words adds a new dimension, and the fascinating stories behind the music make for quite a journey.
The supporting cast includes regular members of Alasdair’s live and studio ensemble Tom Crossley, Rafe Fitzpatrick and Stevie Jones as well as guest appearances from Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band) and harpist Corrina Hewat.
**** The archipelago of St Kilda is the most remote part of the British Isles. One of only two dozen places to have been awarded dual World Heritage Status for both natural and cultural significance, St Kilda is one of the most important seabird breeding stations, with the highest sea-cliffs and sea-stacks in Britain. Thought to have been inhabited for at least two thousand years, from the Bronze Age until 1930 when the islands were finally abandoned, there are traces of Neolithic sites and a Norse presence, prior to the settlement by Gaelic-speaking Scots. The St Kildans subsisted largely on a diet of fulmars, gannets and puffins, as the seas were too treacherous for easy fishing, the men becoming adept at scaling the sheer cliffs and stacks to take birds and their eggs.
Hirta Songs will be released on CD, limited edition LP and various digital formats on November 11th via Stone Tape Recordings.
01. A Fall of Sleet
02. Farewell to the Fowler
03. Laoidh Fhionnlaigh Oig
04. The White-Handled Knife
05. The Plain of Spells
06. Tuireadh nan Hiortach
07. Leaving St Kilda
08. The Drum Time
09. The Well of Youth