Shoeshine Records SPIT038

A third solo album, and another delicious feast of Gaelic music: Uam includes twelve vocal tracks, and several touches of Julie Fowlis' excellent whistle-playing. It's the songs people will be most interested in, I'm sure, but personally I think the tunes complement the singing beautifully and make this a much more rounded CD. In fact, another couple of instrumental tracks wouldn't have gone amiss, miss! The change out of Nellie Garvey's Favourite into a lovely lyrical jig is sublime, and Julie's own air The First Step is quite enchanting. The Trip to Galway and The Cat and Dog Set throw some outstanding tunes behind traditional songs, and Skye piper Allan MacDonald duets with Julie on the penultimate song A Mhic Dhùghaill ic Ruairidh for a final instrumental flourish.

The bulk of this recording is solo Gaelic song, eight tracks of Julie's gorgeous voice with a range of accompaniments. Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach is expressively delivered over a rich piano, oboe and string arrangement. At the other end of the spectrum, Julie sings Hò Bha Mí unaccompanied with three-part vocal harmonies on the chorus, as pure and beautiful as the snow on Ben Mor. Her Uist inheritance is often tempered with a more cosmopolitan smoothness and attack, not unlike the Mackenzie sisters or perhaps Mary Jane Lamond. In two duets with Lewis singer Mary Smith, Julie's lighter voice cuts through like a laser. Hé Gràdh, Hó Gràdh in particular is a powerful combination of these two wonderful singers, again hauntingly arranged. There's also a version of The Wind and Rain, translated into Gaelic and sung with Eddi Reader, more an indication of the musical stature of this young Hebridean singer. Julie Fowlis has plenty of reasons to hold her head high on Uam.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.