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DOCHAS "Dochas" Macmeanmna SKYECD 23

Music needs passion; without it, all that's left is a meaningless collection of notes that arouse the listener even less than the player. Smother it in passion and the notes merge into glorious sounds that have the power to soar spirits and smooth souls. Dochas have so much passion they make 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' read like a telephone directory. From the evocative Mary Jane Lammondish vocals of Julie Fowlis through the driving piping of Carol-Anne Mackay to the sparkling fiddling of Jenna Reid, this band ooze passion from every note. Add in Kathleen Boyle's clever piano playing and Eilidh MacLeod's deft clarsach playing and you have a sound that would lift the spirits of all but the dead. At full tilt this band have more bounce than a Baywatch beach scene yet they can also slow to delicate and fragile when required.

So talented are the musicians involved that the list in the first paragraph could almost have the names and instruments randomly swapped around and it would still be right. This diversity of sounds allows the band to create complex arrangements that reveal new delights with each listen yet they never get in the way of the tune. The build on this by careful tune selection that avoids the obvious tunes in favour of melodic lesser known pieces which gives the CD a familiar but new feel.

Julie Fowlis' gaelic singing is a revelation and she takes the lead on the five gaelic song sets. The last being a stunning solo rendition of Am Bron Binn that closes the CD and restores pulses to healthy rates. With pipes, fiddle, clarsach, whistles, accordion and gaelic song, this CD is an identikit picture of the traditional music scene. Yet instead of the usual disfigured, barely recognisable portrait that identikits normally produce, this one is a work of art which bathes its subject in a golden glow. Highly recommended

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 51 of The Living Tradition magazine.