Timeline is the result of a collaboration between Scottish Hebridean songwriter Donald MacNeill and Sardinian multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Roberto Diana.
Donald and Roberto first met in 2008 when Roberto worked, as part of the Italian Rock Band Lowlands, on Donald’s album Fathers and Sons.
“Fathers and Sons is a lovely gentle acoustic and charismatic album that gets under your skin…when a delight like this comes from left field (literally if you look at the map) it’s worthwhile, and a welcome reminder that evocative music can come from anywhere.” fRoots, May 2012.
Timeline is a collection of new songs written by Donald, mainly looking back at life on the Island of Colonsay. Most of the songs are observational, some personal and some tackle issues in the wider world.
Donald plays guitar and sings, with backing vocals by his daughter Jen MacNeill. Roberto adds lead guitar, bass, percussion, piano, banjo, cello, dobro and various other instruments. The trumpet was added by Jeff Lewis from L.A. and the accordion by Andrew MacDonald from Scotland.
Donald MacNeill has been chronicling life on Colonsay for the last 40 years, his songs describing life and society as it has evolved over the decades. Timeline looks back at people and places; and describes events that have now been absorbed into history.
Roberto was given complete freedom to interpret the songs as he saw them. The result, as Donald says, was “instruments and texture I would never have dreamed of.”
The genesis of Timeline was a throwaway remark made by Roberto during a visit to Colonsay in 2013.
Donald says: “Roberto said he would be interested in producing some songs for me so when I finally decided I had enough new material for an album, I sent an e-mail and put the question! Having listened to some demos and felt he could do something with the songs, Roberto invited my wife and I to his home where we spent two weeks making music and enjoying the very beautiful Island of Sardinia. While not surprised that he empathised musically with the new songs, Roberto’s ability to understand and interpret the lyrics was much more than I had hoped for. Roberto is a virtuoso guitarist, who incorporates lots of percussive effects into his solo concerts and these traits are evident in Timeline. Despite a thirty year difference in our ages we work very well together, and whilst I did the writing and singing, the album is very much a partnership, and one that I’m very proud of.”
released June 30, 2016
Donald MacNeill: Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Roberto Diana: Acoustic, Electric, Resonator and Eight strings Guitars, Bass, Slide Bass, Percussions, Drums, Piano, Hammond, Banjo and Cello
Jen MacNeill: Vocals
Jeff Lewis: Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Giulia Cartasegna: Violin
Mario Careddu: Drums
Andrew MacDonald: Accordion
“Colonsay , arcipelago delle Ebridi Interne, a ovest della Scozia, una superficie di una quarantina di kilometri quadrati per una popolazione di centoventi persone o poco più: è da questa isola per noi remota che arriva Donald Macneill, classe 1953, songwriter, nonché animatore del locale festival musicale – Ceòl Cholasa – la cui edizione 2016 si è tenuta proprio nei giorni scorsi.
Da un’altra isola, a noi molto più nota, la Sardegna e precisamente da Luras, nel cuore della Gallura, a breve distanza da quella Città di Tempio Pausania consegnata alla storia della musica italiana da Fabrizio De Andre, arriva invece Roberto Diana, classe 1983, musicista eclettico capace di coniugare la sua attività come chitarrista solista dei lowlands a raffinate produzioni acustiche, tra cui spicca l’album Raighes Vol.1 che ha raccolto consensi a livello internazionale.
Dalla collaborazione di questi due musicisti, apparentemente così distanti tra loro per età, provenienza geografica e background musicale, nasce questo riuscito Timeline, pubblicato da Birnam CD “
Together, MacNeill and Diana have crafted an album that’s dazzling in its simple beauty and dramatic in its revelations. […]”
Review on Liverpool Sound and Vision: 8.5/10
“[…] In the same way that The Beatles seemed to capture Life in Liverpool with songs such as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and Eleanor Rigby, so too do Donald MacNeill and Roberto Diana capture the souls of those they document and put down with imagination touches, but at a more sedate, more homely pace which is both illuminating and life affirming. It is to know that we are remembered with perhaps fondness that makes the inevitability of the passing of our souls such a glorious and treasured moment.
With tracks such as the beautiful My Mother Rode Her Motorbike, a stirring thought of memory of a loved one in her prime during the darkest days of World War Two, Man of the Land, the epitome of feelings of loneliness in Solitary Traveller, Tractor and the sincerity of Home is Where The Dog Is all leaving their mark on the passage of time, space and sometimes upsetting reminisce, Roberto Diana and Donald MacNeill have captured something a little unique and it is haunting and elegant in its delivery.
A cracking display of observation and listening, Timeline is an occasion for the soul to remember all that you have seen.”
Read the complete review:
A really nice 4 Star Review from the UK magazine R2 (Rock’n’Reel). 🙂
“In an unusual cross-continental meeting of minds, in 2008 Italian roots-rockers lowlands teamed up with songwriter Donald McNeill and his daughter Jen from Scottish Island of Colonsay, resulting the album Fathers and Sons.
Having been invited to play the Colonsay Folk festival, Lowlands’ guitarist returned the favor by inviting McNeill to his home on Sardinia to record a further album.
A pared down affair, Timeline is a genuine delight.
Diana provides mainly electric lead guitars and slide-dobro, with some subtle embellishment from violin, accordion and rather Waterboysesque trumpet while McNeill delivers stories about life and the passing of time on the Island; sometimes with sadness, sometimes with whimsy.
His is an engaging voice that sits on top of the music, half-singing, half-speaking, not a million miles from Ivor Cutler. A Gentle album and well worth seeking out. “