Reviews of VT149CD 'My Colleen by the Shore'


 

'My Colleen by the Shore' is the debut album of of Bruce Scott the Liverpool balladeer. Bruce is a name and a face that will be well known to many with an interest in folk and traditional music on both sides of the Irish Sea. Born in Everton, Liverpool in 1941 he is steeped in a musical tradition that crossed the Irish Sea to the North West with generations of Irish emigrants, Scottish Dock workers and seafarers from around the world.

 

Bruce spent a large part of the 1960s busking and playing bars and sessions in every parish and townland from West Cork to Derry. During these travels and adventures he met, befriended and sang with the like of Kevin Coniff, Finbar and Eddie Furey, Liam Clancy, Christy Moore and the late Frank Harte. Upon returning to Liverpool he quickly built a reputation as a singer and song collector on the folk circuit and also remains a central figure in the Liverpool branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.

 

As well as being a superb interpreter of the traditional ballad, Bruce is also a gifted songwriter. The album takes its name from a ballad which gave Bruce the title of All Ireland Champion in the category of newly composed ballads in 2004 Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Clonmel, County Tipperary.

 

Filled with the kind of music you could adapt for a documentary on the living ballad tradition this long overdue debut is one for the top of your CD pile.

 

He has a unique singing and writing talent and effortlessly blends his own compositions such as 'My Liverpool Rose', and 'Lowlands of Flanders' with older traditional songs from the four corners of Ireland. It is difficult to single out the pick of 'Colleen by the Shore' and it is near impossible to find a fault with it. Starting with the 'Rocks of Bawn' which Bruce learned in the 1960s from Kerry singer Noel Scanlon, the whole album is charged with a  depth of emotion and sheer enthusiasm. From the deeper songs such as 'Lowlands of Flanders' to the haunting 'She Moves through the Fair' or the fanciful 'Kinsale Herring' , the singer and his accompanist, the excellent whistle and flute player Terry Coyne display immense versatility in the songs delivered.

 

Probably what makes this CD so likable is that the themes are about life and history. Its about love, life dreams and reflection and Bruce has a talent for telling it straight.

The Irish World

& Treoir

 

If you like Irish singing of the highest calibre, you must buy this CD. Bruce Scott is very fine Irish singer from Liverpool, who also makes his own ballads. He is probably best known for The People's Own MP, recorded by Christie Moore. He was placed second or third in the newly-composed ballad section of the All Ireland competition five times running, before coming first with the title track here. He has been learning songs all his life, picking them up in Liverpool Irish pubs, at home, and on trips to Ireland, where he has met (drunk with) many of the finest Irish musicians of the last 40 years. (All of this and more, is in a booklet meeting Veteran's usual high standards).
 

The songs here are unaccompanied or with elegant flute and whistle accompaniment from Terry Coyne, cover all aspects of his singing. The CD opens with the magnificent Rocks of Bawn, learned from Kerryman Noel Scanlon in Liverpool, and concludes with the lovely title track. Along the way are some old favourites (a good Easy and Slow, for example) and some less familiar gems (The Deck of the Baltimore being my current favourite), all sung with same strength and authority. Bruce's songs sit well in this company, expect to hear his excellent Lowlands of Flanders achieve deserved after this release. Buy it, enjoy it, and learn from it.

Folk London

 

There is something unique and instantly recognisable about Irish ballad singers. John Brennan on Tyneside and Glasgow-based Kevin Mitchell are particular favourites of mine. I know nothing however of the Liverpool Irish community so Bruce Scott is a new name to me.

 

Most of the songs are fairly meaty ballads sung expressively in Bruce's fine clear tones, but he copes just as well with lighter songs such as The Tipperary Tinker and The Bold McShane. She Moved Through The Fair is probably the best known of the songs to English listeners but there are others on this album that deserve a far wider recognition. I particularly liked the songs that Bruce got from Noel Scanlon like Rocks of Bawn and The Deck Of The Baltimore. (I must find out if there are any recordings by Noel available). Bruce has also written his own ballads and four are included on this album, including the title track with which he won the All Ireland Newly Composed Ballads competition in 2004. With almost 53 minutes of music, Veteran again provides excellent value for money for a CD. And as usual with Veteran recordings there are extensive background sleeve notes on the artist and the songs, as well as the words and notes for the songs that are available on their website, and you can buy the CD online too.

Mardles

 

Bruce at 64 is still a fine interpreter of Irish songs, with a terrific voice. What is also good about this CD are the sleeve notes, which are in booklet form and give a brief history of Bruce' s life and experiences of singing and busking. The notes are well written and extremely interesting.

Of the 15 tracks Bruce is accompanied very simply, but to great effect with flute or whistle by Terry Coyne. The CD needs listening to several times to fully appreciate the fine Irish singing, and is a mixture of well known songs, with some unusual versions, and The Streams of Bunclody is particularly enjoyable. Five of the tracks were also written by Bruce and show that not only is he a fine singer, but also has a great way with words.

The first reaction on hearing Bruce Scott's CD "My Colleen by the Shore" is that what we have here is a collection of good honest singing that is not over adorned. The Lowland of Flanders is a self-penned story of the Great War, told from an unusual Irish angle. Easy and Slow is a telling tale from one of the oldest professions with a lovely accompaniment by Terry Coyne. It's worth buying the album just for the singing of The City of Baltimore, a real tour de force by Bruce. And, last but not least, a song I had not heard before but loved, The Tipperary Tinker with fine flute accompaniment again by Terry Coyne.

The Folk Mag

 

A fine set of traditional and self penned songs by Bruce Scott, another Liverpudlian, (this was reviewed with a Hughie Jones CD) but this time one whose roots are firmly set in the city's Irish community. What a tale the cover notes tell! Bruce's inheritance permeates his music. It comes from his family, his travels and not least his own considerable gifts as a writer.

 

He has earned wide respect in this line, notably as a very successful competitor in the All Ireland 'Newly Composed Ballads' section of Comhaltas and winner in 2004 with the title track of this CD. There is a seamless movement between old and new, derived from his background, providing enough of the familiar, (Easy and Slow, She Moved through the Fair) to welcome the uninitiated alongside the original material's freshness - I'm fond of the evocative Summer in Bumclody. My Colleen by the Shore exemplifies this idea, blending Bruce's lyric with the well known tune, The Dawning of the Day.

 

As a singer, Bruce displays the typically dignified clarity of delivery of a traditional Irish singer. His voice rests very easily upon your ears and I especially enjoyed the level of ornamentation, he employs. Five tracks enlist the skilful whistle and flute accompaniment of Terry Coyne. Admirers of traditional Irish singing will certainly appreciate 'My Colleen by the Shore'. However, there's a wealth of pleasure for any listener of good stories, (enjoy The Deck of the Baltimore), and a desirable resource for very many other singers. Veteran, the producers, give a website link to the words of all 15 tracks - what a brilliant idea!

Shreds & Patches

 

Bruce Scott's lyrical Summer in Bunclody and the title track which earned him the All Ireland championship in the Newly Composed Ballads category, have a similarly old fashioned feel.

 

Sung in a magnificently rounded baritone, they sit comfortably alongside the glorious renditions of such classics as The Rocks of Bawn and She Moved Through the Fair.

Evening Herald (Dublin)

 

This album is a reflection of a life immersed in music. Bruce Scott was born in Liverpool in 1941 as a 'foreign born Irish' and spent much of his life in Ireland or around Irish people, busking through Ireland in the 1960s and becoming friends, and singing, with such people as Kevin Conniff, the late Frank Harte and Christy Moore. When he did return from Ireland he quickly found himself singing, collecting and taking a large interest in the Liverpool and north-west branches of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann.


Much of his singing has come from his mother and the culture of singing in the houses that existed while he was growing up. The title track of the CD, My Colleen by the Shore, won the 'All Ireland Newly Composed Ballads' competition in 2004 and in fact four of the tracks on the album are written by Bruce which is a credit to him because they fit so well with the traditional material.


The songs are all either unaccompanied or sung with simple flute, whistle or low whistle accompaniment courtesy of Terry Coyne. Bruce is a singer with emotion and enthusiasm.


It surprised me slightly to find this was a debut CD but at the same time over forty years' singing experience has gone into making it. I find waiting until the recording was a reflection of his experience and knowledge, a refreshing change.


Scott's version of She Moved Through the Fair, and the sleeve notes attached, show a true knowledge of the tradition but songs such as The Deck of the Baltimore, are more uncommon and, dare it be said, interesting. His singing is crisp and well ornamented and the deep subject matters of the ballads are dealt with so expressively, but he also has a knack with the more light-hearted songs, such as The Tipperary Tinker.
 

For someone who wasn't keen on Irish songs, I've grown to like this CD. The extensive notes are a great guide to the songs and the singing speaks for itself.

English Dance & Song

 

Scott was born in Everton Liverpool but his soul appears grounded in Ireland. His ancestry appears like the genealogy for the ‘Ould Orange Flute’ with Dublin Catholics and Derry Protestants in the family tree. That Irish soul comes to the fore in this collection of fifteen tracks combining the familiar with the less well known from the Irish traditional songbook with new songs. Opening with ‘Rocks of Bawn’ he sets the scene with a song that has a long pedigree but seldom appears on recordings today. ‘The Tipperary Tinker’ is a song he collected in Ireland but is probably less performed today for ‘political correctness’ rather than any defect in the song or tune. ‘Streams of Bunclody’ brings us close to my home ground. We usually call it simply ‘Bunclody’ and it is one of my favourite songs of Wexford. It is hard to better the old Emmet Spiceland version but singing unaccompanied Scott does it. Like all great folk songs its origins are lost to time and there are variants in every townland where unrequited love exists. Bruce appears to have busked around Bunclody and this inspired him to write ‘Summer in Bunclody’. ‘The Herring’ is a new, old song to me. It has a great charm and is very well performed here again without accompaniment. A beautiful song from his own pen is ‘Lowlands of Flanders’ composed about the peace tower to commemorate the Irish fallen in the Great War. Scott appears to be an avid collector of songs and another gem on offer here is ‘The Deck of the Baltimore’. I had seen a version of the song printed in a book from 1948 called ‘Songs of the Wexford Coast’ but this is the first time I have heard it sung on record. He comes more up to date with a song written for his wife ‘My Liverpool Rose’ adding another bloom to that Irish bouquet of roses. He gives a beautiful rendition of ‘She Moved Through the Fair’ before moving on to one of those humorous songs beloved of the ballad session, ‘Buck St John’s Black Army’. It is close relative or maybe we should say part of the same hotel chain as ‘The Louse House in Kilkenny’. He rounds off this wonderful album with the title track to the tune of ‘Dawning of the Day’, which earned him the title of All Ireland Champion of newly composed ballads in English at the Fleadh Cheoil in 2004. This album includes a marvellous insert with not just background notes on the songs but a well-written short biography of Bruce Scott.

www.folking.com

 

Bruce Scott is a Liverpool Irish singer with a strong voice and a great repertoire of songs. The 15 tracks, on some of which he is accompanied by Terry Coyne on whistles and flute. range from traditional songs - some well-known (Rocks of Bawn, Streams on Bunclody, She Moved Through the Fair), other lesser known (the Tipperary Tinker, the Herring) to more recent compositions including some of Bruce’s own, Summer in Bunclody, My Liverpool Rose (a Valentine’s present lo his wife, Dot). The title track ‘My Colleen by the Shore’ won him the (The of ‘All Ireland champion’ in the Newly Composed Ballad category at the 2004 Fleadh in Cloumel, County Tipperary.

The accompanying Booklet is well up to the usual Veteran Standard with notes on all the songs and lots of biographical details, including the amazing incident in 2003 when a journalist maintained he had located the long lost Lord Lucan - it wan’t in fact the exiled peer, but Bruce’s former singing partner Barry Halpin who was living in India. Bruce found (he national TV and press camped in his garden next morning and it took ages to get rid of them!

Puddlestone
 


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