The Scottish Album of the Year Award longlist has arrived and once again it’s a strong display of the kind of musical eclecticism Scotland is presently proudly showing off to the world. For those of you not up to speed, the Scottish Album of the Year Award (SAY Award) is an award given annually for an outstanding album produced by a Scottish artist. 100 nominations whittled to 20, then 10, then one winner. The longlist of 20 albums is streaming now at www.sayaward.com.
It's a tough job for all judges concerned as this is a healthy line up. From big hitters; Primal Scream and FFS to lesser known but brilliant debuts from Rachel Sermanni and Jarlath Henderson, there is quality throughout the list.
I'm gutted that the beautiful folk ensemble album Songs of Separation didn’t make the longlist. Its an absolutely stunning collaborative work that even without acknowledging the scale of its production and integrity of its intentions, is still a collection of simply beautiful folk songs. I am no die hard folky as you know listeners, I just appreciate the inclusion of all kinds of great music, regardless of roots.
There still remains a depth of folk heritage and influence within the selected list, from Iain Morrison, Jarlath Henderson, Lau and arguably Emma Pollock and C Duncan too. All previous winners, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat, RM Hubbert, Kathryn Joseph and even Young Fathers give a nod to their country's musical ancestry, but with the joy of the progressive woven in. There are many contenders here who work in a similar way. Is it a reflection of that approach that will go on to claim the prize next month?
I'm stuck here though. I still struggle with awards and recognition for albums. To observe something as a Best Album is to give authority on no less than the work as a whole. A complete work. And that is quite a statement. (Won't stop me though, best album of 2015? Scroll down).
The thing is, I have always loved albums. I'm still of a generation that prized them. But to actually assemble a list of more than half a dozen albums, as award deserving pieces, in their entirety, is something I would consider an almost impossible challenge. That's without the geographical constraint of a Scottish award. I am certainly not saying that there can not be one (or even more) Scottish albums deserving of the prize, only that the process is a tricky one and no little challenge to those involved.
I, thankly however, am free from such challenges. I just get to pick the bits I like and put them together in the way that I think they sound best. A Best of SAY if you like. Here's my taster selection from the longlist, in one easy playable compilation.
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