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CATHERINE ANN MacPHEE - "Chi Mi Geamhradh" - Greentrax CDTRAX038

This is Catherine Anne's much overdue second recording, it's release coinciding with the re-release of her first album "Canan nan Gaidheal", this time on C.D.

Congratulations to Ian Green for persuading her to make more of her excellent Gaelic singing available to the public. The title track is from the pen of Calum MacDonald of Runrig and featured on their first L.P. "Play Gaelic". It is a poignant song of impending parting and handled very sympathetically by Catherine Anne. There is a wide variety of Gaelic song here, traditional mainly, some unaccompanied and some with interesting arrangements with a variety of musicians and instruments. Particularly striking is a spinning song "O hi ri leann" where Jim Sutherland's percussion and two string fiddle captures the sound of the clacking of the spinning wheel and also the feel of North African rhythmic accompaniments. Another song which makes an instant impression is "Mile Marbhphaisg air a'Ghaol" [A thousand curses on Love], which despite its title is a lively waulking song, the tune will be familiar to many as versions of the song are in the repertoire of "Capercaille" and of "MouthMusic". This version deals with emigration and on it the voice is complemented by the whistles of Jack Evans.

Catherine Anne has a warm yet strong voice and her Gaelic has the softness in pronunciation of the southern islands of the Outer Hebrides. The songs are beautifully clear and the sleevenotes contain the words of the songs in both Gaelic and English so that when listening one can not only appreciate the melodies but also the stories and sentiments behind them.

Whether unaccompanied or with Savourna Stevenson's harp or Allan MacDonald's backing vocals or other arrangements, Catherine Anne's position as a top Gaelic singer will be further reinforced by this recording.

The re-issued "Canan nan Gaidheal" [Greentrax CDTRAX 009] made a significant contribution to Gaelic music on its first appearance and firmly established Catherine Anne in the world of traditional music beyond her Gaelic audience. Here is another varied selection of Gaelic song also with arrangements by Jim Sutherland and friends. Included in this is a lively set of tongue-twisting puirt-a-beul, a vocal from which is not featured on the second recording, but this does not detract from its excellence.

A very welcome new release and re-release.

Willie McCrae

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This album was reviewed in Issue 1 of The Living Tradition magazine.