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Private Label SIAN001 

In 2016, three of Scotland’s finest young Gaelic singers – Eilidh Cormack, Ceitlin Lilidh and Ellen MacDonald – teamed up (on the instigation of Fèisean nan Gàidheal, for Skye’s Blas Festival) to form the trio Sian (meaning “storm” or, arguably more aptly in their case, “the elements”). Since then, they’ve steadily established themselves at an assortment of venues across Scotland before taking the giant step of recording and releasing their debut album. Sian’s overall approach is characterised by an assured combined delivery that inevitably concentrates the focus on the sublime intuitive harmonies the lasses’ voices produce, and yet finds room for a variety of styles and influences that may be drawn, at least in part, from the three singers’ individual solo repertoires.

Their stated aim is to try to bridge the gap between traditional Gaelic song and a more contemporary folk feel, and in this they certainly succeed. There’s a delicacy and purity in these voices that’s very appealing, and the lasses’ enchanting singing receives a delightfully energised yet laid-back instrumental backing courtesy of Innes White, Signy Jakobsdottir, Charlie Stewart and album producer Donald Shaw.

Here Sian offers a fresh take on Gaelic songs composed primarily by women. Sadly, though, their laudable intention of celebrating the work of the Scottish female bards they’ve selected is compromised by the total lack of information on the CD digipack regarding these songs. The trio’s website provides the actual lyrics, but no translations or synopses, thus no help to non-Gaelic speakers. That apart, it’s an absolutely lovely disc that deserves to be more fully savoured.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine