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RACHEL WALKER - Fon Reul-Sholus

RACHEL WALKER - Fon Reul-Sholus
Skipinnish Records SKIPCD09

Fon Reul-Sholus (Under the Star Light) is a lovely successor to Rachel Walker's debut solo album Braighe Loch Iall. The new recording is expansive in sound, the instrumentation unobtrusive yet matchless, and cutting across it all is Rachel Walker's immensely beautiful voice. As with Gaelic song albums recently released by Jenna Cumming and Kathleen MacInnes, you detect that all that is on Rachel's agenda is a wish to share her love for these exquisite songs, many of them her favourites, and a desire to convey their joy, humour and sadness as honestly as possible.

I very much like the way Rachel combines mainly acoustic with occasional electronic instrumentation - it succeeds every time. A wonderful example is the haunting sound of Allan Henderson's keyboard accompaniment on the very poignantly sung Mo Run Geal Óg - this brings instantly to mind those breathtaking Matheson/Shaw concert duets. A fuller sound is achieved on Ho rò, Chan eil Cadal Orm, where Rachel's piano playing is enriched by Malcolm Jones' sensitive guitar playing. Rachel's voice is never more appealing than when in the sparsest of instrumental settings, and producer Allan Henderson captures the nuances of this very special voice brilliantly. If I have one small criticism, it's that the slight 'soft-rock' feel of the album's last track slightly detracts from the mood of all that's gone before, but with a voice like this, all is forgiven! Elsewhere, there's lilting and lively puirt a beul , a highly imaginative arrangement of Cò Ni Mire Rium, and a hauntingly sung St Kilda love song with thrilling, moving fiddle playing from Archie McAllister.

This is beautifully honest music, exquisitely and gracefully performed by a musician who clearly adores what she is doing.

Debbie Koritsas

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