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I have loved this album for years, so it is a great pleasure to review it here on the occasion of its re-release. Talitha’s life story alone is worthy of a novel, but her approach to music making is equally fascinating. You may have heard her unmistakeable full-throated voice on Mouth Music’s faultless first album, or perhaps on the solo album which preceded this one, 1991’s Solas. But if you have not heard Talitha before, this album, first released in 1996, gives you a flavour of the diversity and playfulness which characterises her music. Originally from America, Talitha’s love affair with the Scots Gaelic language and culture is reflected in the 8 of the 11 songs on here that are in that language. However, as a dancer and ethnomusicologist, Talitha’s musical interests – not to mention linguistic skills – stretch beyond Gaelic to include Breton, in the endlessly catchy Changerais-Tu?, Bulgarian, in the strident instrumental Hopa! and Serbian, in what was to become an anti-war anthem in Eastern Europe, Ajde Jano.

Ceaseless in its quest for different effects, the album is a palimpsest of exquisitely layered vocals, full-bodied drum rhythms and dramatic sweeps of instrumentation. However, Talitha is adept at pulling back the layers to present the raw, intimate heart of a song. While the tragic lament Griogair crackles with atmosphere (quite literally, with the sound effects of a roaring fire and rocking chair), A Fhleasgaich Oig is stately and dramatic with James MacDonald Reid’s bagpipes. Talitha also sets new words to old songs, including – a new addition to this re-release - a reworking of the waulking song Coisich a Ruin as a tribute to her late husband Ian. From start to finish, Talitha admirably shows the spirit/spioraid of her album’s title.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 94 of The Living Tradition magazine.