The Scottish Album of the Year Award marked its 12th edition with a return trip to last year’s venue, Stirling’s sparkling Albert Halls, beginning with a performance by 2022 winner, jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie and ending with the announcement of the latest recipients, Young Fathers, whose fourth album Heavy Heavy appeared to unite the judges with its celebratory, cathartic qualities, described by band member Ally Massaquoi as “the trials and tribulations of everybody”.
Massaquoi was on hand to pick up Young Fathers’ third SAY Award gong, using the lingo of his home city of Edinburgh to describe the scene as “a bit radge”. He may have found their latest honour a bit mad but there is no argument here – it really is the best Scottish album of the past year, despite stiff competition on the night from other shortlisted gems such as Joesef’s sweet soul debut Permanent Damage, Hamish Hawk’s swaggering, eloquent Angel Numbers, bagpiper Brìghde Chaimbeul’s hypnotic Carry Them With Us and Paolo Nutini’s masterful Last Night In the Bittersweet.
Nutini, on tour but sending his thanks via his sister Francesca, was honoured separately, with his debut album These Streets picking up the SAY Modern Scottish Classic Award. This accolade was voted on by his fellow nominees and some of its best loved tracks were covered by the SAY house band with vocals by rising Scottish singer/songwriter Becky Sikasa and brownbear frontman Matt Hickman.
Elsewhere in an informal, good-natured ceremony, ably hosted by BBC Radio Scotland presenters Nicola Meighan and Vic Galloway, Glasgow rockers Dead Pony rattled the masses with a short, sharp shock of a set, eliciting some moderate moshing, while the woozier indie textures of Edinburgh teen duo No Windows won the evening’s third gong, the Sound of Young Scotland Award. Their prize is £10,000 towards the recording of their debut album, investing in potential future nominees at a time when making a wage as a musician has never seemed harder.