ROSS Ainslie’s third solo album Sanctuary is something of a concept album in the sense that it plays continuously, with no breaks between tracks, and is in part at least a homage to musicians who influenced him during his formative years, especially, and perhaps surprisingly, Mike Oldfield.

A huge fan of Oldfield’s seminal Tubular Bells, Ainslie has adopted the same concept and added to it a raft of influences garnered from his years playing in duos with Ali Hutton and Jarlath Henderson, as well as in bands whose musical heritage span the globe, such as India Alba and Salsa Celtica.

Sanctuary is a deeply personal offering, referring as it does to Ainslie’s journey to sobriety.

Since becoming sober almost five years ago, Ainslie has used his music to replace the drink and refers to it as his sanctuary.

His music since has matured and he is now a genuine master of his craft.

“I’ve found that I’m spending a lot of time on my own these days, being a travelling musician, a lot of the social time is centred on drinking, so I found it hard to be around,” Ainslie says.

“So I retreat to my room a lot. At first it took some time to get used to my own company but as the years have gone on I’ve found it to be a very productive and creative space.

“If I’m having a particularly bad day, music is always the thing that will pick me up, so that’s why this album is called Sanctuary.”

Ainslie’s new-found confidence in his sober self is evident in Sanctuary, which is a deeply self-assured piece of work.

While known primarily as a piper, Ainslie’s ability with the whistle and cittern goes far past accomplished – he brings a plaintive yearning to some tracks that speaks of his own personal battles.

The music on Sanctuary is all composed by Ainslie with the exception of one track which he co-wrote with James Maclean, but he has brought in some of traditional music’s finest musicians to accompany him.

Hamish Napier, James Lindsay of Breabach, composer and Grit Orchestra conductor Greg Lawson, Steven Byrnes and Cormac Byrne all appear alongside guests from across the globe such as Zakir Hussain and Soumik Datta.

Sanctuary is a deeply personal piece of work which showcases Ainslie’s growing maturity as an artist.

Emotive, fun in parts, and wide-ranging in its ambition, this album is testament to Ainslie’s talent. It is also testament his continuing sobriety.