Maybe seven is their lucky number, as this seventh release ─ and the first featuring the considerable talents of ex-Manran lead singer Norrie MacIver ─ represents their finest achievement, to date.
And what an achievement it is, The Seventh Wave is a unique blend of stirring tune sets, mixed with traditionally rooted yet contemporary sounding songs, that doesn’t sacrifice any of the intimacy and charm of the band’s cèilidh roots.
Alistair Iain Paterson’s piano perfectly complements the deft rhythm section of Rory Grindlay on drums and Angus Tikka on bass, yielding a propulsive foundation that is most notable on the euphoric and life-affirming opener Alive, which crashed into the UK download charts at number 26 on its single release ─ a formidable achievement for a traditional band, only matched by Runrig and Capercaillie before them.
The three storming tune sets on the album ─ prominently featuring core member Alasdair Murray’s pipes and whistles ─ are played with an almost delectable brutality that brings to mind the glory days of Inverness cruiserweights Wolfstone.
Meanwhile, the remaining songs, with their anthemic choruses overlaying lilting and tumbling rhythms, seem to echo a yearning for a return to the Gaidhealtachd and reflect on the effects of the, at times, cruel sea on local communities.
This is best expressed on The Iolaire, a sorrowful tale sung with great poignancy by Lewis man Norrie MacIver recounting the events of New Year’s Day, 1919, when HMY Iolaire ─ on returning troops from the First World War and within sight of port at Stornoway ─ sank with the resulting loss of over 200 lives.
Popular mythology has it that ‘the seventh wave’ will always be the most magnificent, and Skipinnish have not disappointed here. The 11 additional musicians credited on the album greatly enhance the, already, rich instrumental core of accordion, pipes and whistles, providing the perfect showcase for Angus MacPhail’s instantly hummable accordion motifs on this varied, and superbly produced, collection.