Ballads of the Book at Celtic Connections 2007

Glasgow, Scotland – Ballads of the Book is an album of collaborations between Scotland’s top writers, poets and musicians. The brainchild of Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble, Ballads of the Book began as a simple idea to bring together the literary talents of Scotland’s writing community with a diverse range of new and established recording artists.

Following Idlewild’s work with Edwin Morgan on their Remote Part album, Roddy wanted to explore the possibilities of more artistic collaborations with various writers providing original lyrics for recording artists to interpret in whichever way they saw fit. Having enlisted the enthusiastic support of the Scottish Arts Council and with Chemikal Underground onboard, it wasn’t long before the nascent idea and fledgling list of interested parties flourished into a brilliantly realized collection of songs: as musically eclectic as they were elegantly poetic.From the literary world, the list of those involved reads like a who’s who of the great and the good in Scottish literature. The giants of Edwin Morgan and Alasdair Gray rub shoulders with cutting edge, contemporary writers like Ali Smith, A L Kennedy, Louise Welsh and Ian Rankin. Esteemed poets like Robin Robertson, Bill Duncan and Rody Gorman feature alongside successful writers and novelists like Michel Faber, Alan Bissett, Laura Hird, Rodge Glass, Hal Duncan and John Burnside.

From the musical world there is a rich collection of both established artists and upcoming, even unsigned acts. Idlewild, James Yorkston, Norman Blake, Sons And Daughters, Karine Polwart, King Creosote, Alasdair Roberts and The Trashcan Sinatras contribute tracks alongside Chemikal Underground acts Aereogramme and De Rosa. There are rare appearances from both Vashti Bunyan and The Incredible String Band’s Mike Heron as well as solo performances from Emma Pollock and Malcolm Middleton. First time incarnations also feature for ex-Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat (Aidan Moffat And The Best Ofs) and ex-Delgado Alun Woodward (Lord Cut-Glass) in addition to the (as-yet) unsigned talents of Strike The Colours and Foxface.

The album cover is an original, specially commissioned artwork by Alasdair Gray and the genesis of the project is the subject of a film documentary due to be broadcast by Scottish Television around the release.

In short, Ballads Of The Book is an extraordinarily ambitious and original piece of work: simplistic in its origins and imaginatively executed, it’s hard to imagine an album with more impeccable credentials.

The album will be released on Chemikal Underground Records in February 2007, and this concert will serve as a live preview of the CD, as some artists involved take to the stage at Celtic Connections. This night will feature performances by Karine Polwart, James Yorkston, Idlewild, Mike Heron and Alasdair Roberts, showcasing live performances of some of the songs from Ballads of the Book alongside their own material.

Ballads of the Book
Tue 30 January, 8:00pm
The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite

Buy Ballads of the Book.