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RACHEL "Both Sides" Sain Records SCD2419

Rachel (she follows the current trend of abandoning her surname for professional purposes) is a young Welsh harpist and singer. Born in Pembrokeshire, she now lives in Cornwall. And until this CD arrived, she was an entirely new name to me.

But what a welcome arrival she has made. A strikingly good voice and a nice assured self-accompaniment on her 36 string Welsh folk harp. And a nicely eclectic mix of material.

Perhaps the nicest aspect of this CD was the fact that it is a clear attempt to bridge the linguistic divide: both Welsh and English languages have equal status on the album. Indeed, the front cover shows the title in Welsh: O'r Ddwy Ochr. So this mix of traditional and modern ballads really IS "both sides". Stand out track was that famous folk song Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn that us Welsh all learnt as kids in junior school. It is sung to a compelling accompaniment with pipes and bodhran augmenting her harp. And even here she goes the extra mile and sings an English translation at the end.

This album gives off good vibes: it is about being linguistically INCLUSIVE, rather than excluding people who way be the wrong side of the linguistic divide. I wish it well.

Dai Woosnam.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.