Friday, October 03, 2008

Dochas: An Darna Umhail/ A Second Glance

The six musicians who make up Dochas come from across Scotland. With An Darna Umhail, their second album, they do a masterful job of drawing on the landscapes, traditions, and influences of their home places, and making them into whole which offers a thoughtful, thought provoking, and lively exploration of Scottish tradition as seen in the twenty first century. The dozen tracks on the disc run from jigs to reels to songs of work to gentle ballads to meditative airs and back again, all played by musicians who clearly know and love the music and clearly enjoy working together and bringing out each other’s best.

The album opens with a lively set of pipe jigs with Carol-Anne Mackay leading the way on the highland pipes, Eilidh MacLeod joining on clarsach, Martin O’Neill on bodhran, Jenna Reid on fiddle, Julie Fowlis on whistles, and Kathleen Boyle on piano. The music includes a boat song from Barra, a love song from North Uist, an original wedding air from Jenna Reid, a love song handed down (and then lost for a while) through Kathleen Boyle’s family from Donegal, and a set of three tunes from Shetland that incorporate the Nordic connection of that area. They finish off the collection with an imaginative treatment of the Robert Burns’ song Ae Fond Kiss. It’s paired with IHoRo ‘S Na Hug Oro Eile, from which the poet drew the melody for his song. Julie Fowlis takes the lead on the Gaelic song, while Reid adds back vocals and fiddle; on the English part, Reid takes the lead and Fowlis backs her with harmony vocals, whistles, and oboe. It’s a a graceful and lovely pairing all on its own and a fine close to a creative and engaging collection.

The members of Dochas are all quite in demand in their solo careers and in projects supporting other musicians, teaching, and composing, so they do not get together as often as they used to. This second glance surely suggests a third collaboration, though. There are English translations of Scots Gaelic lyrics and brief comments on the songs in the liner notes, which are imaginatively designed.

you may also want to see

Music Road: now playing: a short film about julie fowlis

Music Road: Now playing: Eddi Reader sings Robert Burns

Music Road: autumn music, continued

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