Julie Fowlis: Gach Sgeul (Every Story)

91kjvAYMVkL._SX425_Listening Post 5. If you’ve heard that Scottish Gaelic is an endangered language, then listening to Julie Fowlis might cause some cognitive dissonance. Her voice is so angelic it seems more likely that people would be studying just to be able to understand her. One critic describes her as “pure as a Highland spring”—which works, even though she hails from the Outer Hebrides—and her fourth album is, indeed, a piece of the Gaelic renaissance. Gach Sgeul includes songs from the slow and melancholy to joyful puirt-a-buel (“mouth music”) tunes and is backed by a variety of traditional instruments (fiddle, harmonium) as well as the bouzouki, which has been part of the Celtic revival since the 1960s. My personal favorite of the set is the lively “Ribinnean Riomhach” (Beautiful Ribbons, see video), though I also keep coming back to the touching sound of “An Roghain Dain Do Eimhir XXII” (The Choice). If you want to hear something in Gaelic that’s more accessible, listen to Fowlis’ rendition of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” released as a single in 2008. (Machair Records)

 


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