Joy Dunlop's Dreamy Delights

Sradag Music SRM004

It’s wonderful to hear a new generation of Scots Gaelic singers come to the fore. Among names such as Julie Fowlis and Jenna Cumming we should add Joy Dunlop. She differs from a lot of other Gaelic singers in that her classical soprano voice is both prettier and more delicate. On its own, in fact, it might sound too “girly” to carry a powerful lament such as “Cumba Chaíleín Ghlínn lubhair,” or provide musical cover of the sad Sorely MacLean poem “An Roghainn” (popularized by a robust rendition from Fiona Mackenzie). What Dunlop does, though, is back herself with musicians that add depth and drama to her voice–people such as Donald Shaw, Lorne MacDougall, James Mackintosh, Aidan O’Rourke, and Karen Matheson. We can hear this to great advantage on the opening track, which translates “If I Marry at All, I Won’t Wed a Big Girl.” As the title suggests, it’s a Gaelic humor song, but MacDougall’s Border pipes and Andrew Dunlop’s lush piano give it an emotional feel. Dunlop isn’t just playing at the Gaelic; she’s a graduate of the Gaelic College on Skye and is fully bilingual–like many folks from her native Argyll, whose traditions she showcases on “Buaín na raeiních taobh Loch Eite” and a regional mouth music song. Another stellar track is “Eileann Luinn,” a praise song, but also one that demonstrates how singers emulate the pip of the pipes. This lovely album features a lullaby as its penultimate track. It put me to sleep–in a very good way! Rob Weir

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