Fresh from the verdant lands of North Yorkshire, Rebekah Findlay releases her debut album: a gripping collection with a heart that firmly embraces the folk traditions, yet with unabashed contemporary blood positively coursing through its veins. Managing to be both vibrant and subtle, this is a more than impressive first effort, showcasing a singer who makes good use of light and shade in the delivery of her breathy vocals, displaying a commanding presence when in full force whilst being equally effective and assuredly compassionate when a more subdued approach is called for. Undoubtedly shaped by the history and landscape that surround her, Rebekah writes with a prescient grasp of language that invokes vivid imagery, delivering her interpretation of all that surrounds her with an eager pride.
Raised on Teeside, it should come as no surprise that Rebekah's coming-of-age tales and matters of the heart are scripted against a backdrop of shorelines and industrious harbours. "Harbour Wall" tells of stolen moments and a romance fuelled by shared dreams of the freedom and adventure promised by the vast ocean, contrasting with "Duty Bound" where the solitary existence of a lighthouse keeper paints a more desolate picture: "survived by no-one and husband to none, no son to take your place and keep your light alive."
Effortlessly shifting between traditional and contemporary, Rebekah shows her confidence on striking renditions of familiar traditional songs "The Blacksmith" and "Scarborough Fair," both brought to life with her bold interpretations. Perhaps the most telling fusion is on Rebekah's own "In Stone," preceded by a faux-radio recording of the Burneston Folk Club Singers' hearty rendition of the traditional shanty, "Haul In The Bowline." Remaining true to the spirit of the shanty, Rebekah picks up the more solemn story of a loved one left ashore to mourn the loss of her beau, taken by the unforgiving vigour of the ocean swell.
The language and imagery that pervades Rebekah's own writing often borrows from the tradition. Her bitter rebuke of warmongering on "Pipes & Drum" uses a language of wars long since past, yet evokes emotions and rhetoric that are as relevant now as they have ever been. Similarly, "The Lady Of The Lake," with its allusions to queens, knights, and swords pulled from stones, finds Rebekah cleverly creating her own folklore through which she depicts a universal tale of love, intrigue and deceit.
Augmented by a small group of musicians, the playing throughout Northern Skies is animated, bringing spark and spirit to a largely acoustic, enigmatic backdrop. The accompanying booklet is bedecked with the most beautiful illustrations that reflects the personal energy invested in the project, and the organic nature of both content and presentation. Northern Skies is a boldly intimate affair that is certain to catapult Rebekah Findlay to deserved wider attention and adoration.
Rebekah's website can be found here!
Rebekah's MySpace page can be found here!