A review of Julie Fowlis’, Gach Sgeul.

Julie Fowlis at Belladrum 2013
Julie Fowlis at Belladrum 2013

Gach Sgeul (Every Story) is Julie’s newest album and as expected she sticks to what she knows and what she is very, very good at. Described as ‘Mouth music, work songs, tales of love and loss’, Gach Sgeul is a collection of songs from around Scotland and recorded in the Highlands.

The album includes a who’s who backing band of traditional music featuring Éamon Doorley, Duncan Chisholm, Tony Byrne, Donald Shaw, Tom Doorley, Ewen Vernal, Iain Sandilands, Michael McGoldrick and RANT fiddles. They work together to craft an album of consummate musicianship

The mournful ‘A Ghaoil, Leig Dhachaidh Gum Mhathair Mi’ eases you into the album and whilst my Gaelic is shamefully lacking these days, you really don’t need to understand the language to understand the passion in which the opening song is sung.

In fact this goes for the rest of the album, not to mention her previous albums to date too. Don’t worry about not having the Gaelic, the music in itself conveys the mood. One of the highlights of the album is the peurt-a-beul set ‘Fodor Ghan Na Gamhna Beag’ with gradually builds to a crescendo, be very, very careful if you’re driving when this song comes on!

Much like Kate Rusby, Fowlis has said in the past that she’ll stick to playing trad tunes and in Gaelic. Despite more mainstream attention from Disney’s Brave and being the foil to Mark Radcliffe at the Radio 2 trad awards, you could forgive her to bowing to pressure from the marketing men. However she’s stuck to her guns and delivered another stunning album.

Speaking to the Scotsman last year she said, “To me, the language and the music, the song and the poetry, they are all completely linked, you can’t really separate one from the other. You can’t separate pipe tunes from the Gaelic language because one influenced the other; the rhythm of the pipes comes from the words and the words come from the melody of the pipes.”

Along with a new album, Julie also just been announced as the headliner for this year’s Hogmanay celebrations in Inverness. The ‘Red Hot Highland Fling’ will also feature Manran, another Highland group who seemed poised to make more of an impact on the mainstream music scene. I suppose we can’t have them all to ourselves!

Gach sgeui is out now on Machair Records.

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I’ve always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a ‘proper’ job.

Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer!

You can contact Toby direct at Toby@Igi.gs