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ALYTH MCCORMACK "An Lomall - The Edge" Vertical VERTCD054

Alyth McCormack was raised on the Isle of Lewis and this is a collection of mostly Gaelic song. But when you slap the CD into the player the sound that issues forth is not what you'd expect given the above sentence. I suspect my reaction was something like what was felt by many in an earlier generation, the first time they heard "electric folk". The interpretations are very modern, and incorporate lots of pop music idioms that some may find a bit alien in the context of traditional song. In this case, sampling, synthesis, crunching electronics, drum machines and dissonant chords flavour the sound. Once over the shock of disappointed expectations, you realize that this is a thoughtful, well crafted album after all. McCormack has a pretty, often delicate, voice that can surprise with its breadth and power. She sings a couple songs unaccompanied, especially nice is the peurt a beul "Bothan" that has a delightfully complex internal rhythm. The last track "Dheannain Sugradh" struck me for all the world like Gaelic blues. The way she repeats and builds on a phrase is almost hypnotic. "The Selkie" has strong echoes of Kurt Weill, and the music is credited to Wendy Weatherby rather than the usual "Trad.". My only complaints lie with the overbearing piano, though well played, it covers the voice too often. If this recording is anything to go by, Alyth McCormack is someone to look out for in the future.

Elaine Bradtke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 43 of The Living Tradition magazine.