Scotland: A Part of Me
(self-produced, 2000)

Cal's CD Scotland: A Part of Me demonstrates the connection the singer feels with his homeland. Filled with original songs expressing his amazing love for Scotland, the emotion with which he sings captures true patriotism. He also includes "Green Grow the Rushes, O" by Robert Burns and "Come By the Hills," a traditional tune. There is also one original Gaelic song.

Having seen Cal live in a pub singing covers of Top 40 material, this CD came as a bit of a surprise. Expecting to hear mediocre covers, I instead heard pretty decent folk-rock. Cal (whose real name is Michael Callaghan) plays several instruments as well as singing and having written many of the songs.

The majority of the pieces are well written, even if the theme wears a bit thin. There are five songs dealing directly with loving Scotland, plus the Burns and traditional tunes. Not surprisingly, these are the best-written tracks as he is obviously writing about something very important to him.

The non-Scotland tracks exhibit weaker writing and are actually a bit annoying. To his credit, there is not a sappy love song to be found (well, except about Scotland).

Cal has a lovely voice and sings passionately, but there is a pop-attempt going on that grates on my nerves after a little while. There are a lot of female backing vocals, electric guitar and electric piano. If he had stuck with straight folk, he would have done much better. He appears to have taken a great deal of inspiration from Scottish group Runrig. The instrumentation, tempo, content and overall feel of the music is very similar.

Cal has put together a wonderful collection of songs and does a formidable job performing them. If he focused more on his wonderful voice and fantastic songwriting, instead of trying to be either a pop singer or Runrig, he could easily become a force to be reckoned with in the Scottish-folk field. Well worth a listen!

- Rambles
written by Jean Emma Price
published 17 April 2004