Scottish singer songwriter Dougie MacLean and his latest offering, Resolution, are highly annoying...
The album, released towards the end of 2010, started to pick up positive critical recognition and solid radio play and by early 2011 had become album of the week on many a radio programme, including Iain Anderson's show on BBC Radio Scotland.
But that's hardly an annoying trait, that's a deserving trait - Resolution is an excellent collection of contemporary acoustic songs infused with traditional musical values.
The problem is a personal one.
I've been trying to get through a ridiculous number of CD's and MP3's in recent months and that's difficult enough to do without continually revisiting Resolution as I seem to be doing lately. And with some regularity.
But then with Resolution, MacLean's first first full-length solo album since Inside the Thunder in 2006, we have one of his finest-ever offerings.
It is however a slow-burner or grower, with each revisit bringing out further qualities.
The more you listen to the lighter arranged tunes or softer tracks the more they start to shine in their own musical light - `Some Hearts' and `Loving One' grow from comfortable listening to captivating, while the beautiful `The Gift (Fly Away)' will become a firm fan-favourite.
Some of the songs make a more immediate impact.
The album opens with the title track and, from just the first few bars and MacLean's vocal pronouncing "All eyes are empty, they hide the heavy heart," the song carries an instant appeal. Melancholy with melody. Poignant and powerful.
The title track is one of MacLean's finest songs and is such a strong opening statement the nine tracks that follow could be in danger of becoming anticlimactic, but the album's true strength is in the quality of the song-craft found throughout.
Ballads dominate Resolution with acoustic guitar and voice the featured instruments, but there are a couple of more up-tempo moments including `Disgraceful' and `Over Us All,' the latter featuring Dougie MacLean on didgeridoo.
MacLean also plays fiddle on a number of tracks, one of the many instruments associated with the multi-instrumentalist.
But there is no question the tone and tempo of Resolution is set by the voice of Dougie MacLean and his acoustic guitar, perhaps best exemplified by the album's final track `All Who Wander.'
It's not a one-man show however - percussion, bass, keyboards and additional guitars are provided by Dougie MacLean's son Jamie, while additional instrumentation and flourishes include contributions by Ross Ainslie (whistle), Alan Sutherland (piano) and Owen Nicholson (dobro).
But in closing, I leave you with the most annoying thing about Resolution...
In 2007 an anthology album entitled The Essential Dougie MacLean was released and a copy sits in both my CD collection and MP3 hard drive.
The trouble is there are a number of songs on Resolution I would also describe as Essential Dougie MacLean, which means transferring a number of those songs to the hard drive folder where my Essential MP3 copy resides.
So I need to create an updated and expanded edition of the anthology.
Essential 1.1. if you will.
on 1 February 2012
Having most of Dougie's albums, I was wondering whether I needed another. His last collection (Inside the Thunder - 2006) certainly had its moments, but wasn't outstanding. However, in the end I decided to buy `Resolution' and I'm very glad I did. As mentioned elsewhere on this page, this is probably Dougie's best ever. There's absolutely no filler here; every song is worthy of its place and several are instant classics.
The CD opens with the stately title track, an immediately memorable melody, beautifully arranged with Ross Ainslie's whistle solo and the gentle acoustic coda only adding the song's appeal. In fact it's the arrangements that lift a strong collection of songs into something really special. Dougie's acoustic guitar and fiddle are joined by a variety of instruments mostly played by son Jamie. Elsewhere other highlights include the beautiful `Weather Eye' (another ace solo from Mr Ainslie) and the gentle more folky closer `All Who Wander'. Most songs are slow to mid-tempo with only the bouncy didgeridoo-propelled `Over Us All' and the stirring `Disgraceful' speeding things up a bit. Since the early 80s Dougie's songs have been much admired and covered by a variety of other artists and `Resolution' could provide another rich seam.
So there's nothing not to like here, especially if you enjoy folk/Celtic/singer-songwriter stuff. I guess if you're not familiar with Mr MacLean's work the proper singing of proper songs (no auto-tune or overdubbed histrionics here) and the definitely not run-of-the mill lyrics (eagles do a fair amount of soaring, the elements feature prominently and a strong sense of history and the sinister powers that be are never far away) may take some getting used to. But leaving all that aside, there aren't too many albums these days that I listen to on `repeat'. This is most definitely one, and 'Resolution' is (as our favoured Indian takeaway rightly describes its dopiaza) `recommended for everyone'!
on 11 September 2011
If you only buy one Dougie MacLean CD, make it this one. A beautiful, mature collection of songs. The lyrics are reflective, observant and at times sorrowful, but not melancholy. The over all production is faultless. In my opinion, this is his best CD to date, and gets 5 stars from me.
on 4 March 2013
Was looking forward to this after reading some good reviews, but found it to be just another Dougie MacLean album. Dougie uses the same old phrases and words throughout an awfull lot of his songs, feels like he can churn them out now without really thinking, and I think that he is better than that.