Joy Dunlop
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Faileasan | Album Review

Next up is Joy Dunlop's third CD, Faileasan (Reflections). Dunlop is from Argyll, Scotland, which means "coast of the Gaels," and naturally enough sings in Scottish Gaelic. She made this CD a showcase of her home region, selecting songs, musicians, producers, and even a design team from the area. Luckily, there's plenty of homegrown talent, and the result shimmers with impeccable musicianship and clean modern production. Dunlop chooses a wide selection of songs, from eighteenth-century laments to modern love poetry. The best known genres of folksong from the region are represented, from waulking songs (work chants used by women in fulling cloth) to Puirt-a-beul (sung dance tunes). Dunlop's research at Edinburgh's famed School of Scottish Studies led her to several gems largely unknown on the folk revival scene. Even these old Gaelic folksongs often have known authors, and Dunlop provides a booklet of notes giving the provenance and lyrics of each song in both English and Gaelic. (You might need a magnifying glass to read it, though!) If you're not a folk nerd, you can just enjoy Dunlop's sweet voice supported by guitars, accordions, fiddles, whistles, bagpipes and the occasional piano, bass and drums. The arrangements go from uncluttered modern Celtic to piano ballad with tin whistle breaks. This is the rare disc that will fly with both the Gaelic scholar and the modern music fan -- give it a try!

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