We are storied folk
On Winter Solstice

Tunes for a Monday Morning

The Ring of Brodgar  Orkney (Getty photograph)

It's a cold, grey winter's day here in Devon, and I find myself thinking of the northern islands again ... specifically, of Erland Cooper's trilogy of albums inspired by his home in the Orkneys.

Above: the title track from his first Orkney album, Solan Goose (2018), dedicated to the birds of Orkney.

Below:  a track from the second album, Sule Skerry (2019), dedicated to sea and shore.

Above: "Peedie Breeks" from the final album of the Orkney Triptych, Hether Blether (2020) -- named after the disappearing island of Orcadian folklore. 

Below: "Screevar" from Hether Bletheer.

Above: "Sanday" by singer/songwriter Kris Drever (of Lau), from his beautiful new album Where the World is Thin (2020). Drever grew up in the town of Kirkwall, the Orcadian capital, but his father hails from the island of Sanday in the outer Orkneys. 

Below: "Farewell to Fuineray," perfomed by Kris Drever, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Julie Fowlis, and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh for the TG4 music series Port (2017).  "I learned this song from my folks," says Drever. "It's traditionally in Gaelic, but Orkney is not a Gaelic speaking region so we had to rely on Victorian translations to get to the heart of it. I've always loved it." 

Orkney Harbour Seal

I also highly recommend "Kris Drever on Orkney," from Matthew Bannister's excellent series Folk on Foot. And "Wildlife" by Erland Cooper, in collaboration with Scottish poet John Burnside (with thanks to artist and author Jackie Morris for pointing me to it).