Scottish Album of the Year Award 2023: Shortlist revealed

The SAY Award shortlist includes Young Fathers, Hamish Hawk, Becky Sikasa and Andrew Wasylyk among others, while Paolo Nutini’s debut album is chosen as a Modern Scottish Classic

Article by Jamie Dunn | 05 Oct 2023

Today, the 20 artists competing for The SAY (Scottish Album of the Year) Award has been cut down to ten, with the official shortlist revealed. Nine of the acts in the running for the biggest prize in Scottish music – the winner receives £20,000 – were chosen by this year’s SAY Award judging panel, and they’ve come up with an eclectic list of records that shows the diversity of music on display in Scotland.

Among the shortlist is Heavy Heavy, the dark and dense new album from Edinburgh trio Young Fathers, who’ve won the award twice before. They’re not the only SAY Award old hands on the list – Hamish Hawk was shortlisted last year for Heavy Elevator and his latest album, Angel Numbers, makes the grade this year. Glasgow soul star Joesef made the shortlist in 2021 and he’s back again with his first LP, Permanent Damage. Andrew Wasylyk (Hearing the Water before Seeing the Falls) and Cloth (Secret Measure) have also gotten to this stage before, in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and are both shortlisted this year too. Bemz and Brìghde Chaimbeul both made the longlist previously, but with their latest records – Nova's Dad from Bemz and Carry Them With Us from Chaimbeul – they do one better.

Two artists on the shortlist are new to The SAY Award: Glasgow/Cologne-based neo-soul artist Becky Sikasa and Edinburgh singer-songwriter Brooke Combe. Sikasa makes the shortlist with EP Twelve Wooden Boxes and Combe gets a nod for her tender and introspective debut mixtape Black Is The New Gold. The final tenth spot was chosen by music fans, who had 72 hours to ‘have their SAY’ and vote for their favourite album on the longlist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Last Night in the Bittersweet, the fourth album from the ever-popular Paolo Nutini, was the public’s choice. The full shortlist is below:

Andrew Wasylyk – Hearing the Water before Seeing the Falls
Becky Sikasa – Twelve Wooden Boxes
Bemz – Nova’s Dad
Brìghde Chaimbeul – Carry Them With Us
Brooke Combe – Black Is the New Gold
Cloth – Secret Measure
Hamish Hawk – Angel Numbers
Joesef – Permanent Damage
Paolo Nutini – Last Night In The Bittersweet
Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy

Paolo Nutini
Image: Paolo Nutini by Shamil Tanna

Paolo Nutini's 2006 debut wins Modern Scottish Classic Award 

The shortlist nomination isn’t the only reason Nutini will be celebrating today. Paisley’s favourite son has also been honoured with the Modern Scottish Classic Award, for his 2006 debut These Streets. Introduced in 2021, the Modern Scottish Classic Award celebrates an iconic album from Scotland’s past that still inspires today. The two previous albums to win are The Midnight Organ Fight, the breakthrough second album by Frightened Rabbit from 2008, and Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins, released in 1990. The nomination for These Streets came from Nutini’s peers on this year’s SAY Award Longlist – all 20 artists were asked to submit their top five Scottish albums that predate The SAY Award, which started in 2012, and These Streets came out top.

The Sound of Young Scotland Award nominees

Also announced today are the five finalists for The Sound of Young Scotland Award. The award – supported by Help Musicians, Youth Music Initiative and Youth Music – is designed to support the next generation of Scottish talent and give the winner the means to create their debut album. This year’s nominees are Danny Cliff, Pearling, Pippa Blundell, No Windows and Queen of Harps, and the winner will receive a prize bundle that includes cash grants, studio recording time, business advice sessions and a run of up to 500 vinyl pressings from new vinyl plant Seabass Vinyl.

The winners of The SAY Award and the Sound of Young Scotland Award will be revealed at The SAY Award Ceremony at The Albert Halls, Stirling, 26 October

Tickets available at