Scottish Album of the Year: The 20 contenders for the 2021 prize are revealed

Scottish rock outfits Biffy Clyro, Mowgai and Arab Strap are all in the running for a major music industry award for the best Scottish album released during the pandemic.

By Brian Ferguson
Friday, 17th September 2021, 7:52 am
The Scottish Album of the Year will be announced on 23 October.
The Scottish Album of the Year will be announced on 23 October.

Other established acts like hip hop outfit Stanley Odd and indie-pop singer Carla J Easton will be up against newcomers like singers AiiTee, Joesef and Lizzie Reid and rising indie-rock stars The Snuts for the coveted “Scottish Album of the Year Award”.

Multi-instrumentalists Erland Cooper and Andrew Wasylyk have also made the 20-strong longlist, which has been revealed ahead of a glittering awards ceremony at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh next month.

It also features jazz musicians Matt Carmichael, Fergus McCreadie and Paul Towndrow, Gaelic singer and harpist Rachel Newton, and folk singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon.

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Others in contention include rock group The Ninth Wave, DJ and producer Taahlia, rapper Bemz and electronica outfit Kübler Ross.

Organisers have revealed the awards ceremony on October 23 will be open to the public for the first time in the history of the competition, which is open to all genres of Scottish music.

The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), which is staging the contest for the tenth time, said 327 eligible albums had been released during the 12-month eligibility period, which spanned June 2020 to May this year.

Around 100 industry experts produced the longlist, which will be whittled down to a ten-strong shortlist.

Rising singing star Joesef. Picture: Alexandra Waespi

The winner will be decided by a panel including The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, author Ian Rankin, former Scots Makar Jackie Kay, actor Daniel Portman and comic Ashely Storrie.

Robert Kilpatrick, creative projects director at the SMIA, said: “Each year, the announcement of the 20-strong SAY Award Longlist provides an important focal point to both reflect on and celebrate the strength and diversity of Scotland’s recorded output; recognising the impact that music has on our lives and in driving our ever-evolving cultural identity as a nation.

“With each of this year’s longlisted albums having been released throughout the pandemic, that reflection sees a new depth, and ‘strength’ in the context of 2021 embodies much more than artistic merit – it’s underpinned by resilience, passion and endurance throughout challenges that our artists and music industry in particular have sorely felt.

“Music’s power often comes from its ability to tap into inner parts of ourselves; inspiring us, comforting us and ultimately helping us better understand both ourselves and each other.

Singer Lizzie Reid. Picture: Chris Almeida

"It brings us together, and at a time of mass uncertainty and turbulence where we’ve had to be apart, never has its intrinsic power felt more special and important.

“With a massive congratulations to 2021’s longlist also comes a thank you – to the artists and their teams for providing escape, connection and outstanding bodies of work at a time when we’ve never needed them more.

"We can’t wait to celebrate these records – and ten years of SAY – at this year’s ceremony; our biggest to date, and what will undoubtedly be an incredible night to remember for artists, industry and music fans alike.”

Previous winners of the award include Auntie Flo, Sacred Paws, Anna Meredith, Kathryn Joseph, RM Hubbert and Young Fathers, who have triumphed twice.

The Ninth Wave. Picture: Neelam Khan Vela

Last year's award was won by rising rap star Nova Scotia, while the inaugural award was claimed by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat, frontman of Arab Strap.

All of this year’s longlisted acts will be asked to choose the winner of a new award to recognise a “modern Scottish classic” album.

Previous nominees for the ‘SAY Award’ will be choosing the winner of second new award to recognise “The Sound of Young Scotland”.

The winner of the main Say Award will walk away from the Usher Hall with a £20,000 prize, one of the most lucrative music industry honours in the UK.

Arab Strap said: “We're both humbled and proud to make the longlist this year, and we're sure we'll be in excellent company.

“The SAY Award is a brilliant celebration of Scotland's diverse sounds, and we look forward to making new discoveries too.”

Mogwai. Picture: Antony Crook

Biffy Clyro said: “We are delighted to have made the longlist with 'A Celebration of Endings', alongside some incredible albums from the last year.

"We're really proud of this record and we want to thank those involved for the nomination."

AiiTee said: “I'm still so in awe that ‘Love Don’t Fall’ has been included in the longlist.

"I’m so grateful to everyone who has taken time out to listen to my music and I hope I can make more music to bring smiles to people's faces and uplift them.”

Mogwai said: “We are immensely proud to be included in this year’s longlist alongside so many other great Scottish albums.”

The Snuts said: “We are delighted for our debut album ‘W.L'.’ to be in the running for The SAY Award. It’s an album that’ll always be close to our hearts and the hearts of our fans.”

AiiTee said: “I'm still so in awe that ‘Love Don’t Fall’ has been included in the longlist.

"I’m so grateful to everyone who has taken time out to listen to my music and I hope I can make more music to bring smiles to people's faces and uplift them.”

Easton said: “This year the SAY Award is more vital than ever for building back our scene and community.

"I was a bit worried my album would become a 'lost work' due to the circumstances surrounding its release, so to be able to celebrate it with all those who helped shape it and make it happen really means a lot to me, especially as an independent artist.”

Reid said: “To be a part of the longlist alongside these incredible bands and artists feels totally insane. It fills my heart to think that people have been listening and enjoying my little album.”


AiiTee – 'Love Don't Fall'

Andrew Wasylyk – 'Fugitive Light And Themes Of Consolation'

Arab Strap – 'As Days Get Dark'

Bemz – 'Saint of Lost Causes'

Biffy Clyro – 'A Celebration of Endings'

Carla J. Easton – 'WEIRDO'

Erland Cooper – 'Landform (Feat. Marta Salogni)'

Fergus McCreadie – 'Cairn'

Jenny Sturgeon – 'The Living Mountain'

Joesef – 'Does It Make You Feel Good?'

Kübler Ross – 'Kübler Ross'

Lizzie Reid – 'Cubicle'

Matt Carmichael – 'Where Will the River Flow'

Mogwai – 'As The Love Continues'

Paul Towndrow – 'Deepening The River'

Rachel Newton – 'To The Awe'

Stanley Odd – 'STAY ODD'

TAAHLIAH – 'Angelica'

The Ninth Wave – 'Happy Days!'

The Snuts – 'W.L.'

The Snuts.
Gaelic singer and harpist Rachel Newton. Picture: Somhairle Macdonald