Review: Modern Studies – Welcome Strangers

It was never going to be easy for the Glasgow-based chamber-pop band Modern Studies to follow their mesmerising debut album, 2016’s Swell To Great. However, with their new album, Welcome Strangers, the band has delivered a stunning set of beautifully-crafted songs, which reflect the considerable individual and collective talents, versatility and alchemy of this unique group of musicians. The delightfully creaking Victorian harmonium which was central to the sound on the first album takes a back seat here, as the song arrangements become ever more intricate, expansive and absorbing, featuring exhilarating flourishes of strings and brass and other subtle splashes of musical colour. Although remaining deliciously unconventional in structure, the new songs are perhaps more fully-formed than before, revealing more textures and layers with repeated plays.

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Review: Hannah Read – Way Out I’ll Wander

Hannah Read is an Edinburgh-born singer, songwriter and fiddler, now resident in Brooklyn, New York, who is much in demand as a collaborator on both sides of the Atlantic. She will be known to some as a major contributor to the stellar group of British folk musicians who produced the stunning Songs Of Separation, which won Album Of The Year at the BBC Radio Folk Awards last year.

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Review: Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni, the ‘folk noir’ singer-songwriter from Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands, made a very welcome return to Edinburgh’s Summerhall on 26th January, as part of the venue’s programme of contemporary arts events inspired by Robert Burns, and the spacious Dissection Room (Summerhall formerly housed the Royal Dick Veterinary School…) was pleasingly packed for the occasion. Starting the show in solo mode, Rachel treated us to a brand new song and then switched from guitar to mandolin for the mellow jauntiness of Lay-Oh.

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Review: Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Celtic Connections 2018

A capacity audience in the classy surroundings of Glasgow City Halls provided the perfect setting for Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer at Celtic Connections on 27th January. The sisters from Alabama are both pioneers in the territory between country music and what has come to be called Americana and they have long been celebrated for their exceptional strength and vision as both songwriters and singers. Surprisingly, given their extremely close bond as sisters (both of their parents died in tragic circumstances when the girls were still in their teens), last year’s critically-acclaimed Not Dark Yet was the first-ever album they had made together, consisting of an eclectic range of covers and a new song from Shelby.

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