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Julie Fowlis

JULIE FOWLIS Mar a tha mo chridhe / As My Heart Is
Macmeanmna SKYECD33

This is an outstanding album of traditional Gaelic song from one of the most exciting young Scottish musicians and among the finest acoustic albums I have heard. Julie Fowlis's voice is fresh and unfussy, and she allows the natural flow of a song to emerge freely. Her singing is always beautiful and she excels too on a range of instruments: whistles, cor anglais and small pipes.

Fowlis is accompanied by a host of accomplished musicians - including John McCusker and co-producer Iain MacDonald - in nine memorable songs and three superb instrumental sets. The opener 'Òganaich Uir a Rinn M' Fhàgail / O noble youth who has left me' is a Uist spinning song with an appealing multi-layered accompaniment. 'Mo Bhean Chomain / You are my woman with no obligation' includes characteristically fine piano playing from Allan Henderson and Fowlis on the rather unexpected cor anglais. The extraordinary 'Puirt / mouth music' set gathers in pace in a scintillating fashion aided by Fowlis's small pipes.

The whole album movingly evokes a deep sense of place as Fowlis's music is so rooted in her Uist homeland. In fact the sentiment of the lyrics (by the late Roderick Mackay) of the closing song 'Moladh Uibhist / In Praise of Uist' epitomises Fowlis's achievement: 'I will touch the harp-strings of my voice / To see if it can fashion a little song for me / About green, grassy Uist of the glens'. Uist's song tradition has found an inspired interpreter in Julie Fowlis.

Andy Jurgis

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This album was reviewed in Issue 61 of The Living Tradition magazine.