Joy Dunlop


Faileasan | Album Review

Joy Dunlop 
Album: Faileasan/Reflections 
Label: Sradag
Tracks: 11

If I had to describe Joy Dunlop's vocals in a word, that word would have to be radiant! Originally from Argyll and now leaving in Glasgow, Dunlop is a fluent Gaelic speaker who not only sings, but also acts and dances. She has been making quite a name for herself these past few years, being involved with several projects, including a collaborative EP with duo, Twelfth Day. I am very pleased to report that her latest album, Reflections, is first class.

The repertoire choices made on this album are extremely appropriate and work to Dunlop's advantage. There are some songs that potentially could be of some interest to the listener and I urge you to read the sleeve notes, as it is worth a flick through at least. The second track, "An Roghainn", is a perfect example of this. The lyrics of this song come from the poet, Sorley MacLean; however the music of this comes from the talents of Donald Shaw, who plays on the track. The tonal quality of her voice is as clear as crystal, showcasing to the listener how beautiful the actual melody of this song is. Her attention to detail concerning phrasing is highly admirable and to some extent informs the lyrics, which adds tremendous feeling.

Another example of class repertoire choice is the set of Argyll mouth music, (track 6). On this, Joy Dunlop demonstrates a strong core of a traditional style. Even at faster paced music, Dunlop shows that she can maintain her fantastic tone and great diction. As an arranger of music, that track makes it abundantly clear that this mighty singer is a well rounded musician. She obvious has put a lot of thought and time into the way the music is ordered and that is something that shows throughout the album. Track 6 also features the talents of Rona Wilkie on fiddle, (BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2012) and Lorne McDougall, (Three times BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Finalist), both incredible instrumentalists in their own right.

This album is a total and utter triumph! It is certainly my favourite album of Gaelic song to have emerged in recent years, bringing out some extraordinarily vibrant colours within some sublime repertoire. I look forward to listening to more from this stunning virtuoso in years to come. A HIGHLY RECOMMENDABLE album!

Matthew Tighe

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