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FIONA MACKENZIE - Orain nan Rosach

FIONA MACKENZIE - Orain nan Rosach
Mairi Mhor Fellowship MM002

Fiona Mackenzie is leaving her mark on her tenure of the Mairi Mhor Gaelic Song Fellowship. She's already recorded Seinn O, a double CD of Gaelic song that's been distributed throughout Highland schools besides reaching an audience of song-learners much further afield. Not long ago, she researched and published Orain nan Rosach, a book of Ross-shire songs - and she brings some of these songs to life with this recording. According to Fiona, "the songs and the people of Ross-shire are at the heart of this collection". A couple of archive recording samples are included - and they help place these songs in perspective.

Mod-winner Fiona is accompanied by the vocal talents of her daughter Katie Mackenzie, Julie Fowlis, Alpin Stewart and Lauren MacColl. Eamon Doorley, Andy Thorburn (who also produced this album), Carol-Anne Mackay, and Jim Gaitens provide assured instrumental backing.

It's a soothing and lyrical collection that demonstrates the beauty of the songs of Ross-shire, and it is beautifully sung (the vocal arrangements are both lovely and generous in the way they allow each singer's vocal strengths to be appreciated). The tone of the recording is warm and intimate, and Fiona has chosen her material well, including unaccompanied and Gaelic choral harmony songs. Other highlights include tales of hunting, love, and loss, including the gorgeous, unaccompanied Ailean Dubh à Lòchaidh and Ribhinn a'Chuil Bhàin where the voices of Fiona, Julie and Katie are joined by a lone, plaintive fiddle. There's a charming contribution from the children of Dingwall Primary School, and a beautiful and stirring hunting song performed by Inverness Gaelic Choir.

This album is well worth seeking out for the lovely song arrangements, and the opportunity to hear little-known songs that have such deliciously lyrical tunes!

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.