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SAVOURNA STEVENSON - Persian Knight Celtic Dawn

SAVOURNA STEVENSON - Persian Knight Celtic Dawn
Cooking Vinyl COOKCD375

A terrible title, but it kind of makes sense. Scottish harpist Savourna Stevenson has been edging towards world music for a long time now, and on this album she's enlisted Persian percussionists Djamchid and Bijan Chemirani as well as drawing on the poetry of Kahlil Gibran for inspiration. Add the bass of Paul Speirs and the New Age Gaelic vocals of Alyth McCormack, and the blend is very palatable. Celtic, Persian and a bit of jazz, mainly led by the harp but with a large helping of Persian zarb and udu: it may take a bit of getting used to, but it's worth the effort.

'Persian Purple Blues' opens the album, and sets the slightly funky mystic tone. Three vocal pieces follow in English, all based on words from The Prophet. Then there's 'Ballad of Grey Weather', the first of two solo harp pieces written by Savourna in a much more Celtic vein. The next four tracks are complex blends of Persian percussion and Scottish styles: An Buachaille' is a bouncy number by Savourna with exciting drum effects, 'Bron Agus Aigh' arranges a Gaelic song for voice and harp, the title track is a lovely gentle melody like cool water in the desert night, and 'Chemirani Waltz and Reel' combines Western forms with Eastern sounds. Finally there's that second harp solo on 'Talking Flower Heads'.

I like it. You may want to turn the bass down a little, and at times your attention may wander, but the music is pleasant and relaxing, played with skill and understanding. 'Persian Knight Celtic Dawn should be widely available.

Alex Monaghan

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