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CD review

Rachel Newton

Rachel Newton

Changeling

(Shadowside)

The richness of the second album by Edinburgh's Rachel Newton (the follow-up to 2012's The Shadow Side and the Creative Scotland-supported recorded fruit of her New Voices commission at Celtic Comnnections this year) is that it constantly surprises while remaining very much of a piece.

There is a thematic link in its drawing on ancient tales of the faerie folk replacing human babies, but with a distinct feminist slant that distances it from the hippy nonsense old proggers would have produced with similar material.

Her vocal and multi-instrumental skills are supplemented by ingredients including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's Alec Frank-Gemmill and Su-a Lee on horn and musical saw on the Latin-American-rhythmed setting of Sydney Goodsir Smith's The Fairy Man (which has a guest vocal by Adam Holmes), so there are curved balls a-plenty to deal with alongside traditional Gaelic songs.

Queen Of Elfan's Nourice marries an electronic bass pulse to an ancient ballad, while When I'm Gone is two minutes of light Americana. With contributions from fiddler Lauren MacColl and backing vocals by Corrina Hewat, this is the sound of modern Scotland as surely as draws on folklore and tradition, Newton's singing and harp at the heart of a singular vision.

Keith Bruce

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