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GRIOGAIR - Dail-riata

GRIOGAIR - Dail-riata
Dunach Records DUN0701

Griogair Labhruidh’s musicality is astonishing.  He’s a young composer, singer and musician from the West Highland piping tradition, and in particular the Argyllshire tradition.  He was brought up on Loch Lomondside but now based on South Uist, and spends a lot of his professional time in both Scotland and Ireland working at the heart of the tradition; one of his Gaelic song compositions won the Seo Seinn competition recently. 
This album is remarkable for its sheer range of material and the way it demonstrates each of Griogair’s strengths as a musician.  He’s a superb singer, his vocal presence distinctive and commanding, every Gaelic word pronounced with rich clarity.  He wrote one of the album’s tunes; Norman MacLean of Lora is a striking march that leads into the beautiful tune Morven which was written by Griogair’s father; so a nice familial link there.  The sense of rhythm and timing in the small pipe playing on Clach Eanraig (The Henderson’s Stone) is absolutely brilliant, the rhythm of Griogair’s words flowing in unison the pipes so as to make the spine tingle.  His musicianship impresses whether he’s playing pipes or acoustic guitar.  The Gaelic songs have huge impact, a fine example being Cairistiona, which Griogair sings in a slow tempo, allowing the guitar and low whistle to embellish his beautiful singing perfectly.   In the guitar-led tunes such as Maighdeannan Diùraigh, the poise and grace of his playing is wonderful.  Iain MacDonald’s flute/whistles impress throughout the recording; there is clearly great musical empathy between all the contributing musicians.
Dail-riata is an exemplar among traditional albums; Griogair is clearly so at ease with the tradition into which he was born and able to explore it and express himself with superb confidence and immense maturity – and with a strong sense of pride, I feel.  I note that this is another album produced by Iain MacDonald of Glenuig, which invariably means top class, understated, excellent production.   With so many traditional recordings being released, albums like this are under threat of getting overlooked if they don’t have the big publicity machine behind them.  Don’t miss this one – it’s an absolute gem.
Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 78 of The Living Tradition magazine.