This is the second album of music released from the television series ‘Outlander’, based on the series of books by Diana Gabaldon. It’s an enjoyable hour or so of music and is an album I often find myself putting on while I’m working. It definitely evokes a sense of Scotland and Bear McCreary has made good use of a variety of instruments to really get that feeling of being in the wild Scottish Highlands.
As with the first album, I’m split in my feelings towards the vocal tracks on the ‘Outlander Vol. 2’ soundtrack. I still don’t like the prolonged ‘S’ sounds and swooping between notes that Raya Yarborough gives us in ‘The Skye Boat Song’, but the rest of that track is a nicely understated arrangement with very atmospheric backgrounds and her tone is generally very pleasant to listen to. When it builds up to full highland pipe band arrangement and then lighter wind instruments come in to add depth, it’s a lovely piece of music. The other vocalist, Gillebride MacMillan, only appears in ‘An Fhídeag Airgid’ but his clear tones and beautiful Gaelic phrases always make me stop and listen when that track starts.
‘Charge Of The Highland Cattle’ starts off with an impressive military-style pipe band, with plenty of building drums and fiddle music. There’s a sense of urgency to the piece, with the drumbeat really moving the piece forward, until about half-way through where we’re suddenly taken to a more mellow place with slow, atmospheric string music. This is definitely a piece of contrasting parts, but it’s one of the tracks that I think has the best sense of story to it and I think its two parts combine well to allow the listener to experience that story.
The inclusion of the ‘Wool Waulking Songs’ is an interesting choice for this album. They represent a side of Scottish life not portrayed by the rest of the music, which is a nice touch and brings something unexpected to the album. At the same time, because they’re so different they do feel somewhat jarring in this collection, particularly coming in the middle of the album rather than as a bonus at the end.
Overall, this is a decent introduction to traditional Scottish music and gives a good starting point for people who’ve enjoyed the music during the television series but don’t quite know where to go next. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but if you like this style of music then there’s plenty to enjoy.
(pub: Madison Gate Records/Sony Music Cmg, 2015. 1 CD 65 minutes 15 tracks. Price: $ 8.79 (US), £ 6.77 (UK). ASIN: B013XO20RK