Joy Dunlop
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Faileasan | Album Review

Faileasan (Reflections) is the result of personal and scholarly research into Argyll’s music and Gaelic cultural traditions – one that has often been overshadowed by the Highlands and Islands. The album then is Dunlop’s own reflections on that heritage and a beautifully produced and structured piece of work it is too. In a sense, Faileasan is a song of love to Dunlop’s home, delivered in her native Gaelic all the tracks originate in Argyll, whilst the original tracks utilise local poetry with new compositions by songwriters from the area. Traditional tracks such as the humorous ‘Ma phòsas mi idir cha ghabh mi tè mhòr’, the fine set of traditional mouth music ‘Puirt à beul Earraghàidhealach’ and the sweet lullaby of Crònan Charsaig’ provide the body of Faileasan. But perhaps the most interesting tracks are those that combine local poetry with contemporary composition, such as the tender and evocative ‘An Roghainn’, which sets the poetry of Sorley Maclean to a tune by Donald Shaw. Similarly, the closing track ‘Taigh an Uillt’ finds Iain Crichton Smith’s love for Taynuilt complimented by Mary Anne Kennedy’s composition. The quality of both song and musicianship of Argyll is strongly evident, most noticeable through Faileasan’s beautiful evocative and haunting melodies. All of this is centred by the crystalline sheen of Dunlop’s own sweetly inimitable voice.

Track to try: An Roghainn

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