Published: 13/03/2014 17:06 - Updated: 09/03/2014 17:26

Willie returns to Gaelic with new album Dalma

Willie Campbell has anwalbumout with Calum Martin.
Willie Campbell has anwalbumout with Calum Martin.

JUST one song worked on together by singer songwriter Willie Campbell and folk rock musician and producer Calum Martin inspired new album Dalma.

In English, the Gaelic word translates as “bold and impudent”.

But there’s nothing cheeky about the first album Willie’s made singing nine of the 12 songs in Gaelic.

Yet he confessed on the eve of the release and an Inverness Hootanannys’ date tonight (Thursday): “It was something I would have dismissed immediately 10 or 12 years ago. But I think living back at home in Lewis and being involved with the Gaelic organisation Ceol’s Craic it was a wee bit inevitable that I’d be drawn towards it.”

Back in the 90s Willie wrote and sang in Astrid, a jangly pop guitar band that many times hovered on the brink of going huge.

But when the band ended, Willie returned to Lewis and has since built up a reputation as a solo artist and leading his band The Open Day Rotation.

“Gaelic is so tightly connected to the traditional music scene – that’s not really where my influences come from, it’s really country rock, 60s pop and stuff.

“But the Gaelic psalms that also influence Calum – are also in my background.

“It feels natural for me to be singing in Gaelic, but it also feels good that I haven’t strayed away musically from what I like.”

“Me and Calum first got together when we were both booked to play at Ceol’s Craic, the Gaelic arts organisation in Glasgow.

“We were commissioned to write one song and we had a crack at. I’d a song already written which we altered  and Calum translated the words into Gaelic.

“That went really well and Ceol’s Craic suggested we put an album together.

“They also put in a funding application to Creative Scotland’s Creative Futures for us to record the album at a high quality. We’d already put in a lot of time on it before we got the green light to do the recording.”

The two songs at the end of the album are in English - Time Stood Still and Kerry Can You Hear Me – but appear on the album earlier in Calum’s Gaelic translation.

Willie said: “I thought it would be interesting – they were English first, so you can see how the words in the different t languages with their different rhythms change the melody.

“With Tim Seasamh Seinh (Time Stood Still), Calum had a piece of music with really nice chords. I loved them and went away and wrote a melody, chorus and words to it.

“Calum’s and my music tastes are quite similar - we are both into that jangly guitar thing as well!

“The lyrics are about memories of growing up on Lewis and then going away and coming back, but it wasn’t difficult or painful to write.”

The first verse recalls events of teen years, clubbing together for a bottle of cider and hanging out in the bus shelter.

“I can remember times like that very vividly,” said Willie.

There’s already songs wriitten for the next Open Day Rotation album. And though Dalma has kept Willie busy for the last five months, he can also be seen performing in what he calls “his one man band” guise in pubs and hotels.

Though those sets are usually cover songs, rather than his own songs, Willie enjoys these gigs too.

 “I just have a look around the room and play for whoever’s sitting there.

“I’m there to be the entertainment, It makes it more fun just to play for the crowd. When I’m doing bar and hotel gigs, I accept I’m there to play covers - and I enjoy it.

“A song In case of emergencies? Probably Wagon Wheel or Galway Girl. I’m trying to resist learning Wake Me Up because I’ve never liked that song. But people ask for it all the time!”

Willie’s picked out three performances – including his cover of Hank Williams Jr’s Your Cheating Heart-  “I love that song,” says Willie.

Willie Campbell will play Hootanannys tonight (Thursday) with songs from Dalma included. Find out more about Willie and his music at and follow him on Twitter: @opendayrotation


1 Mary Rest Your Head Willie Campbell with Open Day Rotation recorded in the Rockhopper Studio by Netsounds Unsigned at Belladrum in 2012.

2 Willie with Open Day Rotation playing I’ve Got A Kite (again at Belladrum 2012 at Rockhopper session, the song is st to appear on the band'snext album.

3 Willie covering Hank Williams Jr's classic country song Your Cheatin Heart

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