Jarlath Henderson

Hearts Broken, Heads Turned

Bellows Records

LIKE many folk, I imagine, I knew Scottish-domiciled Irishman Jarlath Henderson as a player of pipes and whistles, often in the similarly virtuosic company of Ross Ainslie, until hearing him sing with the band on this album at Celtic Connections. To do so was to immediately understand why musicians of the calibre of Hamish Napier, Duncan Lyall, Innes Watson and Andrea Gobbi are clustered around him onstage. This album is a classic modern take on eight traditional tunes, beautifully sung, and given brilliant contemporary arrangements by some of the top traditional musicians of a talented generation. The soundscapes are the work of the whole band, with Lyall and Gobbi taking particular credit for the technical side at the latter's Carrier Waves Studios. Extra ingredients on the album including the (very subtle) beatboxing of Jason Singh and the horns of Phil O'Malley, Bill Fleming and Michael Owers from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. While there is the occasional nod towards the prog side of nouveau folk, mostly the end result is, if anything, tastefully understated. If ever an album sounds designed to crossover from the hip new trad market to mainstream success, this is it, and that is meant as the sincerest of compliments.

Keith Bruce