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some of the homegrown talent ‘givin’ it laldy’ at Celtic Connections in 2016. Check out:

Songs Of Separation is the much-anticipated and rather gor-

geous post- referendum union of distinctive musical per sonalities from both sides of the Tweed: Eliza Carthy, Karine Polwart, Rowan Rheingans, Mary Macmaster, Hannah Read, Kate Young, Jenn But- terworth, Hazel Askew, Hannah James and project co-ordinator Jenny Hill. Concerned with the issue of ‘separation’ in its many forms, their songs, turntaking on lead, capture ideas about similarity and difference in music, culture and language. Warm, affecting a cappella harmonies, powerful lyricism, mellifluous Gaelic melody, feisty playing… you’d expect little less from such a bunch. You can hear a track from the album on this issue’s fRoots 57 compilation.

Dàimh (pronounced Dive) are well-established and well-trav- elled Gaelic champions with less of a profile south of the border per- haps. Based in the West Highlands, they have the stamina to power through jigs and reels with impressive engine-room intensity as well as the subtlety to flow, with a lightness of touch, on softer airs, as evidenced on their latest CD The Hebridean Sessions. The latest line- up, Angus Mackenzie (pipes), Gabe McVarish (fiddle), Ross Martin (guitar) and Murdo Cameron (mandola/accordeon) provide the solid foundations for the silky, sinuous vocals of Ellen MacDonald, the lat- est in a line of fine Gaelic singers who have worked with the band, including the wonderful Griogair Labhruidh, who now performs with Afro-Celt Sound System.

Boreas is a shiveringly, atmospheric new collaboration between Scottish and Norwegian musicians Lori Watson (fiddle, Scots vocals), Britt Pernille Frøholm (hardanger fiddle), Irene Tillung (accordeon) and cover-star Rachel Newton (harp, Gaelic vocals). Translating as ‘the cold north wind/ bringer of winter’, Boreas really is the musical embodiment of silvery frozen breath on a winter’s day – quite appro- priate for Glasgow in January. Boreas balance a shadowy sparseness with sparkling, bright-eyed buoyancy in their intricate string play- ing, rooted in age-old traditions while “exploring the spaces between their different yet connected cultures”.

Clype may be a relatively new duo on the scene, with their debut album reviewed glowingly in these pages in fR 386/387, but both members are well-known names in Scottish music: pianist and singer/songwriter Simon Gall (of Salsa Celtica) and fiddler Jonny Hardie (Old Blind Dogs). Gall’s lyrics are thoughtful and engaging, and his bright delivery is reminiscent of the mighty Tim Dalling (also featured at this year’s festival). Rooted in the music of Northeast Scotland, their sound taps a number of musical seams, from Latin American rhythm to cabaret and jazz. Championed by Richard Thompson, no less, who recommended their debut eponymous album as “eclectic, accomplished, original and challenging”.

Talisk are proof of the Celtic Connections pudding when it comes to shining a light on emerging talent. One of the six winners of last year’s Danny Kyle Award, the trio have subsequently gone on to win the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. Weighted down with gongs, the light and airy virtuosity of Mohsen Amini’s concertina is particularly striking, supported dexterously by Hayley Keenan (fid- dle) and Craig Irving (guitar). They draw on their backgrounds in Irish and Scottish music to create an impressively mature sound.

stretch of the Spey beside which he grew up and his family’s memo- ries and associations. Ewan Robertson’s Transitions is a sequence of songs and tunes inspired by the Celtman extreme triathlon, in which the Breabach singer/guitarist has competed twice. Last in the series, singer, fiddler and composer Kate Young presents a new col- lection of songs exploring the healing powers and hidden lore of plants, partly inspired by fragments of traditional material.


For full details of all of the events at this year’s Celtic Connec- tions (14th–31st Jan) visit


nd finally, it’s always worth checking out the specially- commissioned New Voices events. Offering artists a creative challenge, this year the commissions feature Highland-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Hamish Napier, whose piece The River is in spired by the

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