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CLAIRE HASTINGS - Between River And Railway

CLAIRE HASTINGS - Between River And Railway
Luckenbooth Records LUCKEN001CD

With a voice as fresh and clear as a Scots spring morning, yet conveying the mellow warmth of a fine summer’s evening, Claire Hastings announces her presence with this wonderful debut album. Winner of the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2015, Between River And Railway is a worthy demonstration of her talents. More must surely follow.

Her choice of songs and their subject matter is imaginative and inspired. Forgotten or unknown subjects such as Gretna munitions workers in WW1, a convict who stole German secrets in WW2, an abandoned child, and Claire’s own family home, are taken up with creativity and originality. The stories are presented with memorable melodies and choruses, thus adding to the folk tradition.

These are songs of humour and poignancy, passion and social history. Two come from relatively unknown writers, and one is traditional (The Bothy Lads). There is a touching rendition of the old hymn, When A Knight Won His Spurs, and a sparkling version of Annie Laurie. Claire herself contributes four assured and mature compositions, plus the melody to Burns’ The Posie. Rhythm, harmony and vocals are managed superbly throughout, with variations in pace and range across the album tracks.

The future must be bright for this lady, with her marvellous Scots voice, always melodic but filled with tenderness, delicacy, strength or confidence as required.

Other than being a little short, Between River And Railway is an excellent debut from Claire Hastings, authentic and cheerful, filled with promise, warmth and vivacity.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.