Tom Fairnie

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I wrote this song to try to speak for the oppressed and most vulnerable in any society. The war in the Ukraine is yet another reason to sing it. If you download it all proceeds will go to help the people of the Ukraine.

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Welcome and updates


My new CD, Lightning In The Dark, was released on Friday the 1st of May. It was produced and recorded in Liberty Hill just outside Austin, Texas, by the genius that is Merel Bregante at his studio Cribworks Digital Audio The tracks feature great musicians some of whom have played with Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Johnny Cash, Chris Hillman, Doc Watson and many others. Merel's own background is rich in experience and experiences and he can talk generously and lovingly about his time with The Sunshine Company, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Loggins and Messina and many others. He has produced and recorded performers such as Steve Martin, Sarah Piece, Dan Fogelberg and John McEuen.

The story of how Merel got to hear my music and how he invited me to go over and record in Austin is one that involves a lot of people and I intend to make sure that all the guilty parties are named but the crowd-funding efforts of family, friends and fellow musicians in Scotland and elsewhere was truly inspiring. I honestly don't think we have let anyone down. You can go to the Lightning In The Dark page on this website and hear the songs for yourself.

It makes me immensely proud to let everyone know that Lightning In The Dark was recently album of the week on BBC Radio Scotland's Iain Anderson Show and also on Celtic Music Radio. 

The tracks are now available for download and the CD can also be purchased and / or downloaded. If you buy a copy from my website it will include a download of all the tracks.

It was a real privilege to record with Merel and he christened the music we were recording Celticana because it is a heady mixture of Americana and something of the Celtic spirit. I think I can genuinely say that we did our very best to capture the true spirit of Celticana.


“I have been involved with far more recordings in my life than I can possibly remember. There are some that stand out. Recordings that, for one reason or another, I consider well above and beyond. Truly, the album ‘Lightning In The Dark’ by Tom Fairnie is one. The amazing, lyrical poetry, the gentle, total kick-ass musicality, the depth of soul on this record is pretty damn astounding. If you are a fan of music; if music holds a place in your heart, then this recording should become a part of you. It really does transcend labels. We call it Celticana. The original concept...marrying the more acoustic music of Scotland with the more rocking music of Americana...Texas style. The end result...far greater than the sum. Between the amazing musicians of Scotland and America, I think we got it. More so...I think you will too." Merel Bregante


“What a brilliant collection of Celticana music. Poetic and hopeful songs of love, friendship and brotherhood and a touch of human frailties. Awsome stuff....deserves to be heard by all lovers of finely crafted songs.” Allan Drysdale


“Tom Fairnie and producer Merel Bregante set out to create a testament to a long forgotten time that still has a message for our times if only we take heed.  Tom is a superior tunesmith, story teller and word crafter with “Lightning In The Dark” he has created a body of songs full of hidden messages that slowly reveal their beauty over the many travels along roads you will certainly want to take, where you will be introduced to a cast of characters lost and lonely, broken and beautiful, whores and gamblers, innocents before, during and after their falls from grace and back again. You will be accompanied by a cast of truly remarkable and prescient musicians adding the colour, smoke and smell to Tom’s stories all brilliantly mixed and lit by the genius of Merel Bregante.  Tom and Merel labelled this recording Celticana probably while imbibing choice libations late one evening; somehow it works. So you boys, girls and in betweens grab your lover and a drink or three, warm up your music player and settle in to give Tom Fairnie’s “Lightning In The Dark” a good listen this evening.Brad Mock


"Finely crafted” Christine Sparks


Tom’s voice is so gravelly and beautiful” Marianne Doig


Absolutely fab; I can’t stop listening to it.”  Audrey Mcgregor Wiliams


“I listened to this CD under a full moon last night - absolutely loved every track - the storytelling , the fabulous arrangements, harmonies, Tom’s own vocals, the atmosphere that the songs and the music create - timeless. Tom is Scotland's Kris Kristofferson. To have an album like this is what every artist dreams of; a work of shining art. Be proud. I was moved to tears.”   Kathy Stewart-Kennedy



“Based in Edinburgh, but the album recorded in Austin with session players who’ve worked with the likes of Dylan, Cash, Willie and Jackson, Lightning In The Dark is Tom’s fifth solo album, largely co-written with Bob Shields and produced by Merel Bregante, who describes the music as Celticana with its mix of Americana and Scottish influences. The CD opens with the jaunty back beat shuffling musing on love and life that is ‘Isn’t That The Way?, his seasoned croaky vocals backed by Dobro, mandolin, whistles and a pipes outro, and with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen on banjo. Then slowing the pace down for ‘If You Go West’, which features cello, and is a love song about travelling life’s roads together.

A folksier air informs the gathering pace and the finger-picked intro to ‘Sleeping On The Streets Of New Orleans’, the narrative of people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, ignored by the powers that be. The same dusty mood gathering around the cello-adorned ‘No One Knows The Night’, a sketch of two lovers on a dry road through Mexico, sleeping under stars where “the breath of night was smoke and pine” and is probably the first songs to use the word propinquity since Mike Nesmith took it as a title five decades ago.

Driven by fiddle and banjo, the bluegrassy title track is in the classic tradition of country crime of passion murder ballads, the narrator having killed someone in a drunken fit of jealousy but going to the gallows with no regrets. Dave Pearlman’s Dobro is back in evidence for ‘The Only Things I Ever Cried About' with Sarah Pierce on harmonies and a touch of Guy Clark dry Americana rust to the voice.

Cody Braun’s mandolin brings a desert Texan border air to ‘Better Times’, a nostalgic reminiscence of the Depression and riding the boxcars. I think the contrast of eras is fairly implicit and leads naturally into ‘Give Me The Good Times’, a song Tom describes as being about “the way we seek to justify and legislate for our base desires, like greed. It can be argued that all land is theft... The frontier spirit has been used as an excuse for so many wrongs”, a slow cocktail of Clark, Kristofferson and Nelson. 

The tempo and mood get lighter for ‘Lightning All Over Sunnyland’, mandolin and Dobro in partnership with harmonica for a track that basically runs through a check list of blues legends names, from Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters to Gary Davies. The Lightning in question being, of course, Hopkins.

The finger-picked acoustic track, ‘A Quiet Life’ is another story song, here it is one of a saloon populated by hearts and minds broken by love, of a man who is looking for trouble to ease the hurt. However, as he wryly says, “But if you can’t find trouble in a bar like that / You ain’t looking hard enough”.

McEuen is back on banjo for the penultimate track, ‘The Winter Of ’72’; another murder ballad, albeit one with a jaunty front porch bounce that again brings the early Guy Clark to mind though the style stretches back to Cash and even Tex Ritter. The CD ends with the near six-minute finger-picked, cello-accompanied ‘Liberty’, a bruised love song to America, a song that “contrasts the dangers of nationalism with the longing for freedom and independence” as the organ kicks in and the sound swells on the refrain he sings “If you could be anything for me / Be my liberty”. I have to admit, I’ve never come across Tom Fairnie before, but this has definitely earned a place on my albums of 2020 list. Mike Davies


"Lightning In The Dark is an album of breathtaking Americana with Celtic influences shining through. It's a delicious fusion of styles. Dobros and banjos nestle with whistles and pipes to create something both beautiful and extraordinary - Celticana, as Bregante dubbed it. The sound is special but so, too, are the songs. Tom Fairnie's gift as a songwriter, and the easy-going but thought provoking lyrics, many of them composed with songwriting partner and fellow poet, Bob Shields, make this a stand-out album. An absolute gem of an album. If you love Americana seek out Tom Fairnie's Lightning In The Dark. You will not be disappointed."  Darren Johnson (Darren's Music Blog)


Recording in Austin, Texas with a fine bunch of local players, (which, on occasion, includes John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Fame) Fairnie fairly leaps out of the traps on Lightning In The Dark’s opening song, Isn’t That The Way? with pipes and whistles added to the banjo, mandolin and fiddle skirling and with Fairnie singing like Butch Hancock, it certainly adds a Celtic lilt to a dusty hoedown. The remaining songs cleave to a familiar Texas singer-songwriter sound. They’re all well crafted and Fairnie has not only a flair for capturing some arresting stories and images in his words (often written in conjunction with Bob Shields) but also a wonderfully wearied voice. No One Knows The Night is reminiscent of Tom Russell and the title song rattles along in a satisfying Guy Clark manner. Meanwhile there’s fun to be had in the joyous tribute to several folk-blues greats on Lightning All Over Sunnyland.    Paul Kerr (RnR Magazine) 


“The songs are chock full of hidden messages and excel at storytelling and they describe characters by observing and creating personae who may or may not be don’t get much closer to Kristofferson and Nelson...with lines that could be heard coming from Ray Wylie Hubbard’s mouth.” 

(Dani Heyvaert   Rootstime)





The wonderful Scottish singer songwriter, Christine Sparks, has released a CD of my songs called, The Woman. Her interpretations bring new meaning and depth to the songs and her passionate, intense delivery makes listening to songs like The Woman, This Perfect Sin, The Rose Of Morelos and Give Me The Good Times a spine tingling experience. You can check out Christine's own website or listen to samples of the songs and purchase the CD on Amazon at


Site updated 17th October 2020

"Tom Fairnie is Scotland's best kept songwriting secret."  Edinburgh Evening News 

"Tom Fairnie writes excellent material and performs it with the energy and passion of a seasoned player"  Martin Lennon - Edinburgh Evening News

"He's a romantic at root and his style seems to reach back to the great nineteenth century poets and to Burns, combining the pithiness of the latter with the yearning romanticism of the former though all the while his eye is on the world around him in the here and now"  John Davy (Flying Shoes Review )

"Tom Fairnie, in a word; atmospheric. This Scottish songwriter has a sound so heroic and wide ranging it's a wonder how his stunning and far reaching yet subtle country sound isn't flowing from the fingertips of an American songsmith." Greg Harper – Rawrip


 "In a parallel universe Tom Fairnie is a superstar of Scottish and Country music. It's just not fair that it hasn't happened in this universe because he writes tremendous songs and sings them with elegance, style and great beauty. Tom has a gentle, understated quality to him, but for all that, his songs make one hell of an impact whenever he plays." Leith Folk Club review March 2016 

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