One of the best albums I have heard in a long time is My Edinburgh from Anna Wendy Stevenson. It is reviewed here in The Scotsman and at Footstompin. Even with a teenage daughter fighting to control the car CD, it is giving Capital and Clyde 1 a run for their money in the McAlpine Mini Cooper.
Think Michael Nyman crossed with Niel Gow and you get some idea of Anna Wendy's approach. My Edinburgh is contemporary classical meets Scottish traditional. Each track evokes part of the city in which she grew up. As well as the music - composed, arranged and played by Anna Wendy - each track has contributions from residents talking about their area of the city. Some remember local people watching the sunset at Newhaven. Others remember the sounds and smells of Grove Street. Lots recall the atmosphere in the city's famous folk pub, Sandy Bell's. The whole work is incredibly atmospheric.
Here's a sample
Anna Wendy was brought up in both the classic and folk tradition - her grandfather Ronald Stevenson is a revered composer and her father Gordon repairs violins for some of the leading traditional players - through him she got to know and be inspired by Dougie MacLean and Aly Bain. Her aunts are the harpist Sauvourna Stevenson and the accomplished actress Gerda Stevenson. Anna Wendy currently teaches traditional music at Lewes Castle college on the island of Benbecula, where she encourages and inspires new generations.
I first met Anna Wendy last February on a ferry from Oban to Lochboisdale, South Uist. I had been unable to get my car on the boat - a combination of last minute organisation and the popularity of the Scottish goverment's ferry subsidy scheme. Three suitcases, one spaniel, and various doggie accessories proved difficult to carry all alone. Anna Wendy, her husband Simon and one of the priests from An Island Parish came to my rescue. We had dinner a few days later and I was struck by her grace, sensitivity and honesty. To discover that her talent more than matches all these other attributes is a delight.