Review: Rachel Sermanni & Jarlath Henderson with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Celtic Connections 2019

Celtic Connections has an excellent track record of conjuring up inspired and intriguing double bills and this one, at Glasgow City Halls on 25th January, was no exception. It featured two of Scottish music’s most distinctive artists in Rachel Sermanni, the captivating ‘folk noir’ singer-songwriter from Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands (currently based in Edinburgh), and Jarlath Henderson, the charismatic multi-instrumentalist and innovative interpreter of traditional songs from County Armagh in Northern Ireland (currently based in Glasgow, where he is also a hospital doctor).

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Review: You Tell Me – You Tell Me

You Tell Me is an inspired collaboration between Peter Brewis (one half of Field Music) and Sarah Hayes (solo artist and member of Admiral Fallow). The pair met in 2017 when appearing in an Emma Pollock-curated celebration of the music of Kate Bush. Hayes and Brewis soon struck up a friendship, discovering some shared musical tastes, and so the seeds of a new band were sown.

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Review: Bernadette Kellermann – Colourworks

of the award-winning jazz/funk/folk collective Fat-Suit.
For her debut EP, Colourworks, Bernadette Kellermann has enlisted the services of some of the finest young musicians in the Glasgow jazz scene, including Fergus McCreadie (piano), Mark Hendry (double bass) and Graham Costello (drums), to help realise her bold and imaginative musical vision. Together, they combine neo-folk with flavours of jazz, minimalism and classical to produce a series of inventive, multi-layered and quietly uplifting soundscapes, including some passages of music which are truly transcendent.

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Review: Laura Gibson – Goners

Laura Gibson is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Oregon. For her fifth album, Goners, Gibson has produced a rich, dark and mysterious collection of songs around the theme of grief and the intimacy of shared loss which, despite the harrowing and unsettling subject matter, manages to create a sense of optimism and renewed hope. For many of the songs, she has set aside her trusty guitars in favour of piano and Wurlitzer and created a series of bold and imaginative soundscapes, peppered with multi-tracked vocals and flourishes of strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion and ambient samples and loops. This is Gibson’s first album since completing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and these new songs provide a masterclass in powerful, poetic and enigmatic storytelling, saturated in vivid and dream-like imagery. As Gibson herself has said: “I wanted to aim for wildness in my lyrics, not perfection.” The haunting and, at times, traumatic, narratives are offset cleverly by the caress of Laura Gibson’s intimate, graceful and feathery vocals.

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Review: Karine Polwart – Laws Of Motion

For her seventh solo album, Laws Of Motion, Karine Polwart has produced another captivating and absorbing combination of music, storytelling and insightful commentary on a wide range of universal themes and issues. Assisted by regular collaborators, Inge Thomson on accordion, percussion and vocals and brother Steven Polwart on guitar, piano, percussion and backing vocals, Karine Polwart has delivered a collection of songs of rare excellence, with a series of imaginative, ambient soundscapes providing the backdrop to her poetic, evocative and uncompromising lyrics.

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