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SARAH MARKEY - Leaving Lurgangreen 

SARAH MARKEY - Leaving Lurgangreen 
Private Label SMM001 

Glasgow-based Sarah, flautist, singer and harpist (and BBC Radio Scotland Young Trad Musician Of The Year 2019), now proudly releases her first solo album, the title of which points to its dedicatee, her Irish (Co. Louth) grandmother. Leaving Lurgangreen is a musical journey drawing on themes of heritage, immigration and friendship, on which Sarah is joined by a host of musical friends (including Marty Barry and Jack McRobbie) under the stewardship of Angus Lyon.

During the course of the album, Sarah creatively blends Irish and Scottish traditional styles, although I must say the Irish side wins out quite a bit, not least in the convivial, almost incidentally virtuosic session-style feel of the musicianship. The Brighter Days set features sparky Uilleann pipes (Calum Stewart) and banjo (Conor Markey) as a foil for Sarah’s own invigorating flute playing, while the whole is driven along by Eamonn Nugent’s propulsive bodhrán.

Throughout the disc I was struck repeatedly by Sarah’s magical mastery of the flute, not only her supreme musicality but also the refreshing, scintillating quality to her phrasing and her intuitive and organic simpatico with the musicians with whom she chooses to be surrounded. The disc’s two vocal tracks – one Irish and the other Scottish in origin – bring Sarah’s sweet and tender singing voice to the fore. Fittingly, the album closes with a pair of tracks where the Scottish feel is more pronounced; these include three of Sarah’s own compositions, and Late Night In Glasgow is one of three tracks to feature a skilful string arrangement by Charlie Stewart – another being the beautiful Estrellas, itself one of a pair of tracks inspired by Sarah’s experience of living in Spain. The second (Licor De Café) is a cheery, animated set of Asturian dances.

With its intelligent arrangements and alert, involving playing, Sarah’s beautifully presented debut album is a clear winner.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine