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ELENA PIRAS - Where The Wind Blows 

ELENA PIRAS - Where The Wind Blows 
Private Label EPR002 

For a singer with a penchant for Scottish and Gaelic song, Elena’s background is quite unusual. She was born in Sardinia, and only discovered Scots and Gaelic music on moving to the UK at age 18 – although her father’s love of singing was unquestionably an influence. That comes through in this new collection, Elena’s second CD. It was mainly recorded during lockdown in a shed set up as a recording studio, and the tasteful and apposite contributions from Angus Lyon (piano), Craig Baxter (bodhrán), Seonaid Aitken (fiddle) and Alex Martin (bass, ukulele) were mixed in later.

The overall mood of the album is roundly uplifting, and Elena is to be congratulated for her achievement and perseverance in the face of multiple issues. Her choice of songs is unified by her intention to make the authentic power of the original song relatable and relevant for today’s listener. To my ears, Elena’s intentions are most closely realised when she communicates most directly and intimately, as on the disc’s three beautiful “natural as breathing” a cappella renditions of Scottish Gaelic language songs (texts and synopses are given). Elena also turns in affecting accounts of Adam McNaughtan’s Yellow’s On The Broom and the traditional Bleacher Lass Of Kelvinhaugh and Da Fetlar Lullaby, and to round off the disc transforms The Parting Glass into a more overtly rousing affair which offers the vital spark of originality that’s missing from some of the album’s earlier offerings, notably Elena’s covers of the well-trodden Fields Of Gold, Last Thing On My Mind and Wild Mountain’s Thyme (sic). These are pleasing and efficient but sadly unremarkable, and add nothing to the already extensive corpus of cover versions.

Elsewhere, though, Elena’s album has much to commend it. For there’s no denying the sense of commitment that Elena brings to her interpretations, or that she’s a competent arranger of her chosen material, even if this commitment doesn’t perhaps quite attain the level of making the songs truly her own…yet.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 139 of The Living Tradition magazine