The five female members of Dòchas, together with new recruit Martin O’Neill (Brolum), breathe amazing new life into tradition with an album brimming with energy and musicality. Dòchas is home to two outstanding contemporary female vocalists, Julie Fowlis and Jenna Reid – the former takes the lead, and her distinctive, natural voice lends warmth and beauty to this recording.
The combination of pipes, fiddle, whistle, clarsach, piano, guitar, accordion and bodhran is explosively full on, and sets your feet tapping instantly – the instrumental sets are astonishing, and the band ‘racks up’ the pace and drive, even in the recording studio. There’s something spine tingling about Jenna Reid’s Shetland fiddle in ‘Da Sheltie Set’ – it’s inexorably lifted by the accompanying drive of the piano, whilst O’Neill makes huge impact with his precise, driven bodhran playing. Carol-Anne MacKay’s Highland pipes throughout ‘Roddy C’s’ are both stunning and uplifting. Eilidh MacLeod’s clarsach shines bright on Dougie Hunter’s beautiful tune, ‘Sileas’.
‘I Ho Ro/Ae Fond Kiss’ is offered as a beautifully sung Fowlis/Reid duet, Kathleen Boyle’s accordion creating a lovely ‘drone’ effect. Fowlis’ oboe makes a haunting appearance here, too. There’s an utterly beguiling puirt a beul, too. Fowlis has one of the most dynamic, cool and assured voices to grace this type of song, and she absolutely excels here, her voice triumphing over the instrumental ‘Whirlwind’ surrounding it.
Ireland ’s Maighread and Triona Ni Dhòmhnaill make a guest appearance on ‘Tiarna Mhaigh Eo’, a slow air exquisitely sung in both Scots and Irish Gaelic by Fowlis and the Ni Dhòmhnaills. Triona’s clavinova playing is lovely, whilst Fowlis’ whistle playing soars towards the end of the song.
Dòchas, along with bands like Brolum, Danu, Beolach, La Volée D’Castors, and many more, are attracting deserved attention among Celtic music fans for their instrumental flair, energy, and exciting interpretation of tradition. An endlessly enjoyable album - little surprise that this band is in huge demand right now.