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RACHEL NEWTON - Changeling

RACHEL NEWTON - Changeling
Shadowside Records SHADOW01

Premiered at Celtic Connections 2014, this New Voices commission is a musical exposition on the changeling, offspring of fairy creatures secretly substituted for human children, a common feature of European folklore generally thought to have emanated from community concerns over infant afflictions and disabilities.

Founder member of The Shee, Rachel Newton has been involved in an array of other groups and projects (The Furrow Collective, Emily Portman Trio and, recently, The Elizabethan Session for example) and is highly in demand for session and touring work. Here she combines her harps (with some viola and piano) and vocal skills (Gaelic and English) in a quartet of fiddle (Lauren MacColl), cello (Su-a Lee) and discreet percussion (Mattie Foulds), with some other cameo guests, performing her own compositions and arrangements of traditional material founded on her essential thematic premise of the mutuality of the magic of music and supernature.

With refinement and melody as touchstones, the music is wide in its dynamic range from the gracefully delicate to the pacedly energetic. The Fairy Man featuring Adam Holmes singing poet Sidney Goodsir Smith’s words, uses the muscular vibrating rhythmic pulse of the electro harp with percussive patterns, horn and musical saw for some sonic otherworldliness. Equally atmospheric is sparse parting piece The Changeling Air, an airily ethereal, eerily edged and entrancing harp improvisation. Generally the music is rich in classical mood and movement of strings but also has contemporary modal sensibilities expressed through a complex interweaving and layering of the instruments to create alluring and sophisticated soundscapes.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.