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Claire Hastings stands in front of a tattered bed sheet that is hanging in woodland. She is wearing a crown of flowers.
Photo credit: Elly Lucas

Claire Hastings, Lullabies from Scotland – a review

The third album from Claire Hastings finds her in maternal mode, combining traditional material and original tracks in an evocative manner.

Release Date
30 June 2023
Claire Hastings, Lullabies from Scotland
Hastings, a specialist in Scots Song, is a remarkable custodian of tradition. Her gentle, melodic voice brings solace and tranquility. Lullabies from Scotland, with its enchanting and heartfelt tunes, captivates both infants and grown-ups, offering comfort and joy in equal measure. A delightful, evocative treasure for all.

The rather delicate and beautifully soothing Lullabies from Scotland marks Glasgow-based singer-songwriter and gifted ukulele player Claire Hastings’ third studio album, and a fine album it is too. Inspired by the birth of her daughter, Nuala, Hastings has curated a touching and nourishing collection of traditional, contemporary, and self-penned Scottish folk tunes.

Opener and single ‘Dream Angus’ sets the scene well. A traditional lullaby about Angus, the Celtic God of Dreams, previously recorded by Jackie Oates, it begins with some minimal instrumentation and ethereal vocals before moving gently into a more playful percussion-led song. This balance between tradition and play is characteristic of Lullabies from Scotland.

Hastings’ skill as an interpreter of traditional tunes is well evident on the traditional Gaelic material. Included on the album is a children’s song from the Gaelic tradition, ‘Gille Beag O’. With a simple repetitive chorus, the song is traditionally used to help children learn Gaelic, but here Hastings also layers it with some gentle piano and strings, building the song into a charming and seductive lullaby.

‘Minnie o Shirva’s Cradle Song’, a traditional Shetland favourite, is coloured with a quaint folk ambiance and a lively, cheerful vibe. It’s a fun song about a Shetland midwife and life on the island. ‘Ca’ the Yowes’, on the other hand, has a slightly more subdued and almost melancholic tone, but it handsomely captures the essence of the historic folk song.

Matt McGinn’s ‘Coorie Doon’, perhaps better known as ‘A Miner’s Lullaby’, is an instant favourite, with some lovely delicate percussion and intimate vocals, whilst ‘Cradle Lullaby’, which closes the album is a lovely finale featuring Hastings and her ukelele as the key instrument. 

Hastings also proves a talented songwriter on ‘My Little One’, a beautiful, hopeful little song dedicated to her daughter. It’s a fun, poppy track with some lovely strings and guitar work. As Hastings notes: “I wanted to create a delicate folk album of relaxing songs, not just for families with children, but for everyone to enjoy. In my opinion, lullabies are about more than singing a baby to sleep; they are an important part of passing on cultural knowledge and tradition. The perfect way to listen to the album would be to curl up with a hot drink or glass of wine to unwind, and I really hope listeners will enjoy this more laid-back offering.” 

Joining Hastings on Lullabies from Scotland is Alice Allen on cello, Tom Gibbs on piano, Signy Jakobsdottir on percussion, Tina Rees on piano and flute, and Charlie Stewart on fiddle and double bass, whilst Innes White, who also produced the record, joins with guitar.

With a background and specialism in Scots Song, Hastings is a superb steward of tradition and one of the finest Scots singers; her soft, mellow vocals warm and soothe the soul. Comforting and reassuring, Lullabies from Scotland is a delightfully evocative and tender listen, and sure to enchant both babes and adults alike. 

Lullabies from Scotland is out on June 30th and can be ordered from clairehastings.com.