Songlines Magazine

rachel

**** Highland harpist returns to her roots; not a Hair out of place

The fifth album from the Highland harpist with a name that confuses Google (think Jennifer Aniston and a popular TV series) finds her returning to her roots with a sound and repertoire rather more overtly traditional that her recent releases as part of the Rachel Hair Trio.

Here she’s joined by acoustic guitarist Ron Jappy, with the paid very occasionally augmented by bodhran player Adam Brown or Scott Wood on whistle, for a cracking collection of jigs, hornpipes, reels, puirt à beul (mouth music) and strathspeys from around Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. All of which sit quite comfortably alongside new compositions by Hair and such contemporaries as Calum Stewart.

‘Mera’s’, the beautiful set of jigs that opens proceedings, in part celebrates the achievement of Hair’s harp student Mera Royle in winning the BBC Radio Young Folk Award in 2018, while other unlikely sources of inspiration include the Isle of Man’s exiled population of wallabies with ‘Jury Jigs’ and Hair’s apparently-tenuous grasp of spelling and grammar on ‘The Proofreader’.

Perhaps the niceties of language don’t matter quite so much when you are able to compose music this sparkling and inspiring.

Kevin Bourke