NEXT Saturday will see the cream of Scottish folk music gather at Aberdeen’s Music Hall to celebrate the past year in traditional music. One of the highlights of the evening will be the announcement of the winners of the Trad Album of the Year award for 2019. Here we take a look at the 10 contenders, all of whom are deserving of the award. But, as your man from Highlander would say, there can be only one...

Brighde Chaimbeul: The Reeling

Chaimbeul, who last month won the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, is a piper from Skye who concentrates on the Scottish smallpipes – the smaller sibling of the highland bagpipe. Her debut album is a deeply atmospheric exploration of tunes culled from as disparate sources as the highlands and islands and eastern Europe.

Hauntingly beautiful, The Reeling is at once both ancient and modern. It was recorded as live at East Church, Cromarty, with Aidan O’Rourke of Lau as producer and is a stunning testament to both her own Hebridean roots and the piping traditions of other cultures.

Gnoss: Drawn From Deep Water

This Glasgow-based four-piece are all former students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and are testament to the excellence being fostered by that institution.

Drawn From Deep Water follows on from their eponymous debut album and marks a new step in their development as they continue to grow as musicians. Despite their obvious technical talent as musicians it is their growing emotional repertoire that makes Drawn From Deep Water one of the albums of the year.

Siobhan Miller: Mercury

The National:

Miller has long been a fixture at the Trad Awards, winning no fewer than three previous prizes as Scots Singer of the Year. Miller’s latest album is a self-penned collection of songs that manages to combine the traditional with the modern. Her ability to paint pictures and tell stories through her words and music make her one of the finest singer-songwriters to come out of the Scottish tradition in many a year.

Elephant Sessions: What Makes You

The third album from Elephant Sessions continues on in many ways from their second offering, All We Have Is Now. It is another driving collection of tunes with an eye to the dancefloor but this time out their sound is bigger in many ways. Their live sets continue to be among the best Scotland’s folk musicians can offer – as is evidenced by their recent second visit to play at Glastonbury. If you enjoy high-energy tunes led by fiddle and mandolin, and with more than a nod to the beats and percussive drive of electronic dance music, then you can’t go wrong with Elephant Sessions.

Talisk: Beyond

Debut offering Abyss was the perfect showcase for fiddler Hayley Keenan and concertina virtuoso Mohsen Amini’s modern and exciting take on traditional music. Beyond furthers their reputation and – despite a change of guitarist with Graeme Armstrong replacing Craig Irving in 2017 – manages to build more layers on to the already unmistakable Talisk sound. Beyond is a stunning achievement and Talisk remain one of the very hottest properties in Scottish folk music.

Karine Polwart, Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson: Laws Of Motion

Polwart has been at the forefront of Scottish singer-songwriting for several years now and continues to amaze with the breadth of her talent and the emotive qualities of her vocals. On Laws Of Motion she teams up with regular bandmates, brother Steven Polwart and Thomson, to look outwards from Scotland and appraise the world as it was and as it has become. There is anger and sorrow here but also some black as a Hebridean winter night humour – none more so than on her take on Donald Trump, I Burn But I Am Not Consumed.

Polwart is almost without peer as a songwriter and Laws Of Motion only helps build upon what will be a lasting legacy.

Breabach: Frenzy Of The Meeting

Frenzy of the Meeting is Breabach’s most complete album yet. Despite the excellence of previous release Astar – which was almost like a musical travelogue – their latest release displays an emotional maturity which grabs the listener right from the start. Tunes and songs lead perfectly into one another and there is a global focus and a deep compassion evident throughout. Pipes, fiddle, double bass, whistle, flute and guitar are married on Frenzy Of The Meeting in a way that is never short of excitement.

Hannah Rarity: ’Neath The Gloaming Star

The National:

Rarity, named BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2018, crowdfunded her debut release and it proved to be something of a triumph. Her ability to rework traditional songs and bring them to a new vitality made ’Neath The Gloaming Star one of the finest Scots language albums in years. Her voice is sensational throughout and brings with it a powerful emotive quality that stirs the soul. Rarity is without doubt destined to become a feature on the scene for years to come.

READ MORE: Music Festival will raise funds for refugees with help from St Andrew

Skipinnish: Steer By The Stars

It’s hard to believe Tiree favourites Skipinnish have been going 20 years now. Their blend of Celtic rock has inspired many around them – Skerryvore among others – and Steer By The Stars is a real homage to their homeland, and the fishing industry which helped it thrive. A collection of rousing pipe tunes and songs sung in both Gaelic and English, Steer By The Stars is perhaps Skipinnish’s finest album yet and a fitting way to celebrate 20 years in the industry.

Kinnaris Quintet: Free One

Bursting on to the scene in 2018, Kinnaris Quintet have quickly become live favourites and festival regulars. Fiona MacAskill and Laura Wilkie on fiddle, Aileen Reid Gobbi on five-string fiddle, Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Jenn Butterworth on guitar have several years’ experience between them but together they elevate traditional music in a way that fits perfectly with the title of their debut album. They are unquestionably free ones.

Drawing inspiration from the Scottish and Irish tradition, bluegrass and Americana, Free One is a stunning debut that sparkles and crackles with the joy these musicians experience when they play together. Electric.