REVIEW: Malcom MacWatt’s “Skail” Connects Scottish Emigration to Root Music


Skail (an old Scots word meaning to disperse, scatter and sail over water) is a three song EP written and recorded in MacWatt’s home in London during the Coronavirus pandemic. While not an American, Scottish Malcom MacWatt perfectly encapsulates Americana music, particularly the voice and sound of the Appalachian region. MacWatt plays all of the instruments on the EP and wields them expertly, weaving banjo and dobro in with fiddle to create a Scottish-Americana tapestry.

Kicking off the EP is “The Crofter and the Cherokee,” a song connecting the Highland Clearance to the Trail of Tears through a Georgian narrator that sees and feels the impact of both events. Next up is “The Widow and the Cruel  Sea,” a story told form the perspective of a widow who has lost her husband at sea, and the tragedy that follows her. This song takes on a more of a traditional Scottish folk song feel, with its jangling guitar coupled with a darker story.

The final song, “Old World Rules and Empire Takes,” tells the story of a  Scottish loyalist fighting against his Scottish brethren during the Revolutionary War, ending with the line “Scottish blood in American clay.”

With Skail, Malcom MacWatt has created perfect marriage between the connection of the Scottish emigration in the 18th century to the roots music we still listen to and create today.

Check out more information about Malcom and his music at his website:

You can listen to Skail here:


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