Link to Living Tradition Homepage





DOWALLY - Early Bird/Night Owl 

DOWALLY - Early Bird/Night Owl 
Private Label DW003 

The Edinburgh duo, Dowally, comprises Dan Abrahams (guitar, harmonium, piano, Rhodes, vocals and double bass) and Rachel Walker (fiddle and vocals), who also form half of the transatlantic group, Wayward Jane. Early Bird/Night Owl is Dowally’s third album, and its title refers to the differing body-clocks of its participants, which fortunately prove less of a mismatch and more of a stimulation to the creative processes! Although the album also features guest musicians Graham Coe (cello, mandolin), Michael Starkey (banjo) and Phil Alexander (accordion), Dan and Rachel have made more use of the arranging possibilities of the studio environment to build their soundscapes reactively and organically, and there’s a more fluid feel to the end product. The pair’s musical virtuosity is unquestioned, but is used with a refreshingly relaxed ingenuity and true sensitivity, generating a different kind of excitement than conventional note-spinning.

The lion’s share of the music on the album is self-penned, with as strong a feel for the flavours of world musics and jazz as the progressive folk tradition. Over the course of the disc’s 40 minutes the listener is led from the mesmeric gentleness of Morning to the jaunty, swinging hornpipe rhythm of Back To Bute and the lively dramatic tension of Dance Of The Swan, and time passes very swiftly indeed. The instrumental items are punctuated with four contrasted songs, characterised by Rachel’s distinctive vocal work – breathy and airy in texture yet not without substance. Three Little Babes and Turkish Reverie, though based on traditional songs, are freshly conceived, and then, fittingly, the drowsily animated winding-down of Sleep rounds off this finely balanced, intelligently presented and highly personable disc.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine