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JOY & ANDREW - Dithis / Duo 

JOY & ANDREW - Dithis / Duo 
Sradag Music SRM007 

The Joy in question is Joy Dunlop, well-known Gaelic singer and dancer from Argyll. Andrew is her brother, a classical pianist who has followed a different musical path since their early days when they were immersed in the music of the west coast of Scotland. On Duo, they combine their influences and talents to create an album that melds piano, voice and the traditional and classical worlds.

There are 11 tracks here, all songs, some in Gaelic, some in English, with a mix of traditional and more recently written material. Andrew’s piano provides the main accompaniment, though he also sparingly adds harmonium, piano percussion and glockenspiels in places. There is a lovely warm feel to the recording, and the piano, in particular, has been captured beautifully.

Joy has a clear, bright voice. To me, it is best suited to the Gaelic songs on the album, and it is these that I enjoyed better here. Andrew’s piano playing is flawless, and the style is unmistakably classical (he is not trying to play like a trad musician, he is staying true to what he knows), and the siblings are attempting to meld the different styles into a cohesive whole. Does it work? At times the style of piano accompaniment really suits the style of the song, such as in The Testimony Of Patience Kershaw (by Frank Higgins) where the overall feel is slightly reminiscent of a song from a West End Production, or Ae Fond Kiss, where the juxtaposition of voice and piano feels very appropriate, almost like parlour music, and where the addition of some verses translated into Gaelic is a lovely touch. At other times I find the two styles mildly jarring, particularly where the chordal structures are so different to what we are used to hearing. But there is no doubting the quality of the music on display, and those who are fond of cross-over type albums will find a lot to like here.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine