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Lorimer Records LORRCD03

Harpist Ailie Robertson’s third solo release, following First Things First and the Traditional Spirits project, is a selection of traditional and contemporary Scottish, Irish, Québécois and original tunes arranged for clarsach with Tim Edey (guitar, accordion) and cellist Natalie Haas discreetly and gracefully supporting some pieces.

Her express intent was to “make an album that was very much solo harp” using it “in as creative a way as possible”. Much of her harp’s tonal output is left crisply clean and natural. Creative development of its sonic output includes some subtle use of wah-wah pedals and plug-in effects and percussive beats derived from striking it “with hands, brushes and beaters”. These more adventurous techniques are perhaps most evident on concertina player Padraig Rynne’s reel Lunchtime Boredom resulting in a very catchy and contemporary feel reminiscent of Myhrdin’s trio release Run: musique d’ici et d’ailleurs with Philippe Lefèvre and Gabriel Jégo. In general, the layered tracking of her varied sound techniques is always tastefully executed providing some delightfully deep and shimmering sonority in the bass undercurrents and cleanly precise ringing right hand detail in the expression of the melodies.

There are very elegantly expressive presentations of the slow Irish air The Wild Geese and Turlough O’Carolan’s The Fairy Queen, whilst Quebecois band Raz-de-Marée’s La Gueussinette, performed in duet with beautiful cello accompaniment, and charming self composed set piece elements Trip To Dinan and Lili’s Hornpipe and her atmospheric parting piece Glimmer each display the dynamic variety and sophistication of her more modern soundscapes; all is brightly lightsome here.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 107 of The Living Tradition magazine.