A SCOTTISH singer-songwriter has said he believes folk music can play a crucial role in the push for independence.

Sam Shackleton, 27, is set to release his latest EP, Scottish Folk Ballads Of Freedom, a collection of songs inspired by his political beliefs.

Originally from Stirling but now based in Edinburgh, Shackleton believes music has the power to bring people within the Yes movement together. “I think folk music is vital in the independence push. It’s often overlooked but music has the power to galvanise people”, he told The National.

The National: Sam ShackletonSam Shackleton

“There’s something a song can do that words alone just can’t, it can cut deep and get to the heart of a movement, especially on something like independence.”

Shackleton has just returned to Scotland after being on tour in Ireland with The Mary Wallopers. He’s living the dream having started out busking on the Royal Mile; “busking into obscurity” he says.

Shackleton continued: “I’ve always been a busker and I started posting videos of me out and about and I got spotted by a fellow from America who runs a folk channel called GemsOnVHS.

“It’s a guy called Anthony Simpkins and my video went viral on YouTube thanks to him. From that I was able to release a few singles and it’s just snowballed from there.”

Shackleton’s latest work comes hot on the heels of his first collection of songs, Causeway Recordings, which was released in March.

According to Shackleton, it’s a great time to be a musician in the folk industry, with the genre going through somewhat of a revival.

He explained: “Part of the reason I like The Mary Wallopers is because they’re just a bunch of young guys reinventing the music.

“Going over to Ireland has been crazy just to see how people respond, I feel like there’s really a revival of folk music and it’s channels like GemsOnVHS, guys like the Wallopers and myself to some extent trying to change it and make it in line with modern times.”

Shackleton has been a fan of folk music from a young age but things got serious when he took a course in Celtic and Gaelic studies at Newbattle Abbey College.

He ended up at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh where there’s a big archive of traditional music. This led to a masters in Scottish ethnology and a dissertation on the influence the internet has had on the folk music revival.

Shackleton said:: “It was when I started putting up TikTok videos that people really went crazy for it.

“People are interested in this traditional music and what I’m trying to do is bring it in line with modern times.”

In the build-up to the 2014 independence referendum, Shackleton took up an interest in campaigning for the Yes movement.

He spent six months or so delivering leaflets and, in spite of his disappointment at the end result, took heart from the energy which persisted in its aftermath. The singer seized the opportunity to speak at a rally outside Holyrood, something which he credits as giving him the confidence to become a performer.

He said: “I had left school early and I was floating about. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I got really interested in independence.

“But there was still this energy, these big rallies all over the country and so I wanted to talk passionately about things from a young person’s perspective.

“I really enjoyed it but something was missing and it was the music. I did not want to be a politician,” he says, laughing.

“It’s not the life for me with everything that comes with it so I switched to music and I found it to be a lot more fulfilling.

“I feel like this new album is the ultimate culmination of all my interests given I sung at a few indy rallies as well.

“Hopefully I’ll be singing much more as we move towards independence.”

He adds that his songs are more politically driven than ever, with Ye Scottish by Name containing the line: “You Tories hear my song.”

“I heard a great analogy once that folk music sort of flows down a stream, people take it and change it, they put it back in and it keeps moving.

“The more people keep singing songs about independence, the better.”