Joy Dunlop


Fiere | Album Review

Joy Dunlop & Twelfth Day 

Album: Fiere 
Label: Orange Feather
Tracks: 11

When I saw Joy Dunlop's name on the CD as it came out of the envelope, I had a real sense of anticipation, Joy's previous album, "Dùsgadh" was the Fatea Traditional Album Of The Year for 2010, then I saw that she'd teamed up with fiddle and harp duo Twelfth Day and that sense of anticipation rose another notch or two.

On paper it looks like a match made by the Goddess, Joy Dunlop, one of the finest Gaelic singers currently on the circuit, though she does sing some of the songs on this album in English and more on that later, combined with the fiddle and vocals of Catriona Price and harp and vocals of Esther Swift, collectively known as Twelfth Day.

The songs and tunes for "Fiere", the name means friend or companion in translation, all come from a shared interest in traditional Scots music and draw on poetry and other prose from Scottish women over the last few hundred years, writing in Gaelic, Scots and English. Whilst the words come from many sources the tunes and arrangements are firmly based within the trio.

As you listen to the songs, you can feel the respect the musicians have for the words that have been brought to the project, every inflection, every inclination, giving emphasis to a phrase or passage, the instrumentation between verses and choruses designed to set a mood and build a sense of drama.

It could easily be argued that this is a feminist album, but I prefer the phrase a feminine celebration of the power of women. It's an album that exudes confidence, these are three performers at the top of their game and consequently "Fiere" is an album that positively bristles with quality.

There is such clarity in the performance you can pretty much hear every note, every strum and pluck of the heart, every movement of the bow, every syllable that is sung. it's also an album with beautiful dynamics, not just technically good, it's got real spirit to it, it soars with joy and then rips your heart to shreds, it's that sort of album.

It had a lot of expectations to live up to as it went into the cd player and hit every one of them head on. Joy Dunlop & Twelfth Day have an album that does them and the Scots tradition proud. They've already toured "Fiere" I hope they do so again. I also hope both acts fine time in their busy schedules to find their way into the studio again. Absolutely top notch.

Neil King

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