Glen Lyon is a song-cycle which takes its name from a remote area in the Central Highlands of Scotland. It is also the site of one of the most beautiful and haunting Gaelic laments known as Griogal Cridhe. Both the song and the place have long been a source of fascination for me. Like many areas of Gaelic Scotland, there was once a rich and vibrant culture that knew nothing of its own remoteness or the impending wave of change that would sadly and inevitably dissipate its seed across the globe.
I find it interesting that historically this has not actually been an experience unique to our own culture but one which is also found in the indigenous areas of Canada and America. It was that same wave that carried those seeds across the Atlantic where they would have an even larger impact.
It is my hope that this recording conveys an authentic look into those old ways without the use of nostalgia or over-bearing anthropology. Many of the sounds that are specific to these songs may have geological implications as well as seasonal ones and I spent several weeks making field recordings of elements such as wind, water, agricultural and maritime machinery, birds, and even insects (listen for the bee!). These are the sounds that pertain to a songs’ ambience or inner meaning.
In many ways my interpretation of these songs returns to the very first track - Gaelic song sung by my great-great-grandfather, Peter Stewart, who never saw an orchestra, but, as far as I'm concerned was surrounded by one in his daily life - birds, horses, harness, ploughs, and the grind of everyday work. Today the land he planted lies fallow; not a plough-share has turned it for more than twenty years. But his music and the music of his people lives on. It does not always sound the way it did, but has been carried on through each generation.