Joy Dunlop

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Fiere | Album Review

Joy Dunlop & Twelfth Day – Fiere

by MIKE WILSON on 21 JULY, 2012


Twelfth Day are an innovative Scottish folk duo, comprising Catriona Price on fiddle and vocals, and Esther Swift on harp and vocals. They combine here with Gaelic singer and step-dancer, Joy Dunlop, in a distinctive project that celebrates the artistic endeavours of fellow female Scots. Fiere is a collection of songs based upon the poetry of a diverse selection of Scottish female writers, and it is a recording that wears its feminine charms with pride and sensitivity.

Naturally, the Gaelic language features prominently, from the disciplined meter of the traditional waulking song, “Faca Sibh Raghnaill No Ailein?”, to the more haunting, and atmospheric “Colmhead Iad.”

The title track is a reflective piece in the Scots dialect, written with the perspective that accompanies old age, looking back fondly on more carefree times, and the vivid images that landscape and nature impress on the memory. Full of moving intimacy, it is hard not to be immeasurably affected by “Darling,” Jackie Kay’s tender eulogy for the death of a loved one, and the precious final moments spent together. Fiere brings together many similar, intensely personal emotions and reveries from across the spectrum of Scottish life, and its treasures of word and music are plentiful.

Influenced by the linguistic and musical traditions of Scotland, but not bound by any of the strictures, Fiere is really allowed to spread its musical wings, wrapping up all its influences in a classy, avant-garde sound, that is very much its own. The versatility of the harp ensures a raft of texture and cadence, with the fiddle bringing extra depth and muscle when called upon. Joy Dunlop provides lead vocals, and it’s the lustre of her supple, soaring voice that shines throughout. The harmony vocals from Catriona and Esther add a celestial mood to the beautifully sparse arrangements, only adding to the sheer elegance of the overall sound.

Review by: Mike Wilson

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