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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Spiritual Music From The Hebrides

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Spiritual Music From The Hebrides
Lanntair LANNCD005

Part of the 2015 Creative Places Award for Stornoway, and the islands of Lewis and Harris, this wonderful live album captures the authenticity and essence of Gaelic spirituality in song, and creates pieces attractive to a 21st century secular audience. The brain child of Calum Martin and Alex MacDonald from the An Lanntair Arts Centre, and using genuine practitioners of Gaelic song, this is music of the landscapes, conjuring deep rolling seas, salt-spray, the wind rustling tousled grass in lonely valleys, and the sun falling on far Northern hills.

Of the 12 tracks, the opener is a sweet and soulful instrumental violin composition from Duncan Chisholm, and the closing track is a male duet version of the hymn Nearer My God To Thee – in Gaelic, of course, with some English verses. The communal aspects of Gaelic spirituality are amply demonstrated in four psalms from the Lewis and Harris psalm group. Led by male presenters, their natural and spontaneous harmonies are stirring and powerful. The gems in the album are six stunning Gaelic songs by female vocalists from the Islands, of which Wetherby and Gradh Maireannach particularly stand out. With minimal adornment or accompaniment - two tracks are a cappella - .the singers’ pure tones and clear singing deliver wonderful melodies which tug at the emotions.

In Spiritual Music From The Hebrides, the intrinsic qualities of an ancient culture and tradition shine through. There is beauty in simplicity, power to charm and inspire, and, above all, wonderful melodies to touch the soul.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.