Uam (Cadiz Music/Shoeshine Records; March 9, 2010)
Last year Julie Fowlis attracted the attention of Celtic and world music fans alike with her excellent album titled Cuilidh. She’s back now with Uam, an exquisite recording of contemporary Scottish folk music and beyond. Julie Fowlis has one of the finest voices in the current Scottish music scene and she is comfortable singing in a group format and a cappella as well. Fowlis, who also plays whistle and oboe on the album, uses Scottish Gaelic and, to a lesser extent English, to express herself with her impeccable voice.
Most of Fowlis’ material is composed of traditional Scottish, Scottish diaspora and Breton songs with new arrangements by Fowlis and her collaborators. “We spend a lot of time in places like Brittany and Galicia,” explains Julie, “performing at Celtic and world music festivals. We have a real affinity with the people there. They have minority languages there which are struggling. It’s always an honor to go to parts of countries like that, where they have smaller pockets of a cultural identity that are still finding ways to thrive.”
Fowlis’ songs include mesmerizing instrumental work. Indeed, she is accompanied by superb musicians. Her band is formed by Irishman Eamon Doorley on bouzouki & fiddle (Danú), Highland fiddler Duncan Chisholm (Wolfstone), guitarist Tony Byrne and bodhran master Martin O’Neill. On Uam we can also find Celtic music legends such as Phil Cunningham and accordionist Sharon Shannon, renowned bluegrass guitarist Jerry Douglas, Alan McDonald on pipes, Mary Smith on vocals, Ewen Vernal on bass, Eddi Reader on vocals, Tom Doorly on flute and whistles, and Michelle Fowlis on vocals. “We were so lucky to work with loads of musicians in the past, and the lineup was sort of more fluid,” Julie says. “We knew their strengths. You naturally go where they are.”
Uam is a captivating album by one of the leading figures in the current Celtic music scene.
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