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Kathleen MacInnes - Summer Dawn

Kathleen MacInnes
Og-Mhadainn Shamhraidh / Summer Dawn
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX294

Kathleen MacInnes' distinctive, characterful voice captivates your attention in this recording - I've a feeling her voice would equally intrigue the listener if she sang in English. Her vocal delivery is warm, engaging, right at the front of the arrangements. It's not only beautiful, but you can also hear every Gaelic word as clear as a bell.

Producer Iain MacDonald has succeeded in creating an honest, intimate feel. All the success in communicating her love and understanding of these Gaelic songs belongs to South Uist-born Kathleen, however. The material is beautifully chosen; songs of love, lament, occupation, pride; another in praise of Fraser MacIntosh, an MP who campaigned for Gaelic language to be used in schools. There's a very moving song written by South Uist bard Michael Ruadh MacPherson in celebration of Kathleen's late father Donald Peter. She recently found this on a cassette at her mother's home. I assume this is the version that's tucked away five minutes or so into the album's last track. I'm not sure who is singing it, but it's a powerful moment.

The passionate, direct vocal of 'Duthaich MhicAoidh' conveys a sense of outrage at Patrick Sellar's highland clearances. 'Oran Talaidh na Mna-sidhe', is sung unaccompanied to magical effect. 'Reul Àlainn a Chuain'/'Star of the Sea' is a hymn of disarming beauty, the nuances in Kathleen's voice are captivating, especially when combined with Karen Matheson's harmony vocal. Cathy Anne MacPhee & Julie Fowlis' voices combine with Kathleen's to create something close to perfection on 'O Luaidh'.

All the arrangements are simple and uncluttered. The instrumentalists, including Mike McGoldrick, James Mackintosh, Marc Duff, Donald Shaw, John McCusker, Ross Martin and Neil Johnston, guarantee that Kathleen really cannot go wrong. Cello, accordion, fiddle and field organ in particular add a rich emotional depth to the recording. An enchanting album.

Debbie Koritsas
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This album was reviewed in Issue 69 of The Living Tradition magazine.