RECENTLY, I was asked to be on the judging panel for The Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award – a prestigious prize developed by the Scottish Music Industry Association to celebrate, promote and reward the most outstanding albums released by Scottish artists.
The SAY Award promotes a longlist of 20 albums, chosen by a panel of music industry judges, which, in turn, is whittled down to a shortlist of just ten in advance of the winner being presented with a cheque for £20,000 at a reception on May 29 in Glasgow.
As one of 100 nominators, I was asked to pick what I thought were the top five albums released by Scottish artists in 2013, and then rank them in that order.
At this stage, I’m not allowed to reveal which albums I voted for. What I can say, though, is that I’m extremely pleased with the longlist, especially as four of my five choices are on it.
There are some very established names such as Biffy Clyro and Chvrches in the running, while last year’s winner, RM Hubbert, gets the nod again.
For me, though, the most pleasing thing of all is the inclusion of so many acts from Edinburgh.
I’ve said before this is a significant time for musical creativity and excellence in this city, and that is confirmed by the inclusion of ex-Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins (pictured), hotly-tipped balladeer Adam Holmes, fast-rising hip-hop trio Young Fathers, electronic duo Boards Of Canada, and former Beta Band man Steve Mason – all of whom hail from the Capital.
Unlike other awards which are biased against less fashionable genres, such as classical and jazz, this year’s SAY Award has shined a light on an eclectic mix of musical acts.
That means places on the longlist for The Dunedin Consort, a baroque ensemble from Edinburgh, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who are also based here, and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, whose founder/director and creative force is local jazz musician and composer Tommy Smith.