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FIONA DAVIDSON - "Fonnsheen" - FONCD 013

I could sum up this review in five words. This is a great album. If the title "Celtic harp and Song" attracts you, then give this a listen - you will like it. If the title puts you off then cast off your preconceptions and give it a listen anyway. Fiona is a fine harper but also a singer of note, a combination that doesn't always go together. Too often weak singing is covered over with an excess of reverb on the vocals. Definitely not the case here.

Fiona has a good voice which is capable of making you listen to the words of a song. The accompanying musicians allow her the space to sing and it is her voice and harp that are always at the front. As a fan of Mac-Talla's version of "Griogal Cridhe" I wasn't expecting to hear another version to compare with that. Fiona's version felt comfortable from the very first listening, a task not easily achieved when you feel you already know the definitive version.

The album was recorded in the studios of Watercolour Music in Lochaber, an area that seems to be teeming with music talent.

One or two of the tunes may have been over familiar but once you get into the meat of the album there are some delightful tracks, "Y Fwyalchen/The Blackbird" a Welsh exile's lament is superb.

Congratulations are due to the backing musicians, Dougie Pincock on various pipes and wind instruments, Debbie Swanson on fiddle, Peter Duggan on flute and Nick Turner on keyboards and bass as the arrangements are always tasteful and restrained. This is very much Fiona's album and she has stamped her authority on it with some style.

John Muirhead

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This album was reviewed in Issue 15 of The Living Tradition magazine.