Shoeshine Records 038
Let’s not mince words: Julie Fowlis has the most gorgeous female vocalist to emerge from Scotland since the debut of Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson. Hers is a voice that can be as fragile as Highlands’ summer, but as bold and strong as a wintery gale. Fowlis’s latest, Uam, is both a showcase for a singer’s craft and a fine ensemble album. Fowlis gives a strong lilt to the waulking song “M’fhearann saidhbhir,” then picks up her whistle to crank out foot-stomping tunes with Éamon Doorley (bouzouki), Duncan Chisholm (fiddle), Tom Doorley (flute), Tony Bryne (guitar), Ewen Vernal (bass), and Martin O’Neill (bodrán). This is a pattern followed throughout. One would be hard-pressed to pick highlights from this release as each is a treasure, but a few that standout are “Wind and Rain,” a Gaelic/English duet with Eddi Reader; “Rugadh mi ‘n teis meadhan na mara,” a Breton song of a fisherman’s daughter’s quiet sorrow; “Brògan úr agam-a-noch,” a mouth music tune in which Fowlis simulates the bagpipes; “Thig am Báta,” a voice and bodhrán song that will set your feet in motion;” and “Bothan Áirigh am Bràigh Raithneach,” a stunningly lovely song with Phil Cunningham accompanying on keyboards. There are also two superb clapping songs, a duet with Mary Smith, a milking song, and more. Uam dazzles from its opening high-energy set to its finale, an unaccompanied song backed by Smith and Alan MacDonald. Julie Fowlis proves that a pretty voice can also be muscular.
Check out this absolutely stunning (and effortless) song from Fowlis. If it doesn't make you love her, nothing will!