Brian McNeill - The Baltic Tae Byzantium (3 stars)

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Brian McNeill - The Baltic Tae Byzantium

(Greentrax)

Back in 1991, Greentrax issued former Battlefield Band mainstay Brian McNeill’s Back O’ the North Wind, a musical exploration of the Scots in America that became a classic in the label’s catalogue. Almost two decades on, The Baltic Tae Byzantium conducts a similar kind of exploration in songs and music of the diverse doings of the Scots in Europe, drawing on a variety of material tracing wandering Scots all across the continent.

McNeill led a performance under this title at Celtic Connections a while back, but the rather flat-sounding recording has been assembled from studio recordings made in various locations over a period of six years, and features a number of guests, including a cameo from Dick Gaughan, backing vocals from Sylvia Barnes and Patsy Seddon, and a half-dozen instrumentalists (although by the time you tot up all his instruments, McNeill amounts to half-a-dozen musicians himself).

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