(An Lanntair, 2008)
This is an interesting recording that marries the traditional with the contemporary in a moving tribute to the Hebridean poet, Murdo Macfarlane. The Murdo Macfarlane Songbook has been celebrated in a number of concerts over the last few years, taking to stages in Macfarlane's native Lewis and Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival. This album features music commissioned for those concerts alongside recordings of Macfarlane's work from those involved in the concerts.
Paul Mounsey contributes two specially commissioned pieces of music that act as bookends to the recording. At the beginning is "Dhachaidh/Home," painting a mournful, ethereal scene with synths and strings. "Till/Return" provides a fitting finale, being more triumphant though nonetheless moving. Mairead Maclennan adds strikingly desolate readings of excerpts from the Macfarlane poem, "Her Image Is A Guiding Star To Me," over both pieces.
Calum Alex Macmillan gives a lucid reading of "Tobair Tobair Sìolaidh," accompanied by the haunting soprano saxophone of Fraser Fifield, a glorious example of a bold contemporary arrangement that subtly augments the sentiments of the original work. In one of the stand-out moments of the album, utmost purity of voice is demonstrated by Isobel Ann Martin on her tender rendition of " 's Fhada Leann An Oidhche Gheamhraidh," with a dobro lending shades of the new world in which Macfarlane was exiled when writing this piece.
A lively, engaging fiddle composition from Alasdair White lifts the tempo somewhat, whilst a Blair Douglas instrumental arrangement of "Cànan Nan Gàidheal" comes across as both reflective and quietly celebratory.
There are a few vocal tracks that fall well short of the standards set by the majority of the album, letting down what would otherwise be an entirely enjoyable recording.
Click here to read more about Dhachaigh on the An Lanntair website!