Outlander The Series Vol. 1 by Bear McCreary (TV Series soundtrack review).

April 30, 2015 | By | Reply More

Based on a series of books by Diana Gabaldon, ‘Outlander’ is a new television show about a young woman transported in time from the 1940s to the 1740s. It is set in Scotland and, right from the very beginning, the soundtrack refuses to let you forget that!

OutlanderVol1CD

From opening bagpipes to closing harp, this album is filled with Scottish musical stereotypes. That’s not always a bad thing but, as it seems to focus more on location than emotion, I found it a bit lacking at times.

The opening track, ‘People Disappear All The Time’ has a good range of styles and pace. Starting with the drone of bagpipes and moving through the string section to end with lilting pipe music, it takes you on a journey through Scottish music and as a track on its own isn’t at all bad.

Unfortunately, the second track really turned me off. ‘The Skye Boat Song’ is well-known and I don’t think this is one of the better versions I’ve heard. For me, vocalist Raya Yarbrough scoops up to notes a little too frequently and the elongated sound of every ‘s’ becomes grating after a while. The bagpipes aren’t too bad, but don’t really work in the sound from hi-fi speakers or the television. They’re designed to fill big open spaces and lose a lot in the move to home speakers.

In contrast, I really liked the male singer, Gillebrìde MacMillan who features on ‘The Woman Of Balnain’. It’s clean and easy to listen to, with an authentic feel to it. The minimal instrumental accompaniment for this one, mostly on the harp, just highlights the beauty of his voice and this is probably my favourite track on the album.

‘Clean Pease Strae’ is a jaunty Scottish dance number that is enjoyable enough and the waltz-based ‘Mrs Fitz’ provides a nice contrast in the dance repertoire.

I think it’s nice to see so many Scottish instruments being used on this album but, ultimately, I think it lacks depth of emotion and leaves me feeling very little. With the exception of one or two tracks, I consigned this album to background noise after a very short time, which might be ok when it’s designed as backing for on-screen action, but means that I would find it difficult to recommend buying this as an album on its own.

Vinca Russell

April 2015

(pub: Madison Gate Records, Inc. 13tracks 50 minutes. Price: $ 8.99 (US))

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Category: Music/Audio, TV

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