Vertical Records VERTCD082

It’s always nice to find a CD, which takes the listener in directions other than they might have imagined it would.  I knew that any of Rory’s work would be exciting, fresh and innovative, but one thing, which struck me about this release, is the positive feeling of lightness which pervades the recording.  There is a lightness in Rory’s voice; a lightness of touch, whether playing pipes or whistles; a lightness of arrangements and a lightness of accompaniment from Jonny Hardie’s guitar, Donald Hay’s drums and Marianne Campbell’s backing vocals.  All of which meld together to prove that all this lightness produces a heavily powerful selection, which has a huge impact for the audience.

Right from the start, the opening Oran nam Mocaisean is airy and weaving, giving a feel-good factor right away.  Thereafter, the musical directions and influences are as varied as the quality is consistent.  We get, for example, American Bluegrass, a Breton gavotte, a Galician pasodoble, and a Bjork song, as well as songs and tunes composed by Rory himself.  All these have arrangements, which have been judiciously thought out to be well balanced between traditional and innovative.

There’s lots of scope for bending notes and tweaking bits here and there, just to add a little extra spice, just to add a little surprise.  The songs here have a wide range of sources, and confirm that Rory is as canny a singer as he is a player.  There is a high quality of production and engineering too, pulling together recordings from a variety of locations.

This is evidence of a man who is entirely comfortable with his music; who knows it inside out and makes the most of every opportunity to convey his enthusiasm for what he does.  The more I play it, it just gets better and better.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 73 of The Living Tradition magazine.