Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt review – Awesome foursome make musical magic

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Artist: Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoe Conway and John McIntyre
Genre: Traditional
Label: Machair Records

The confluence of newly composed and traditional music is a rich delta that defines this mighty fine new collection from two sets of duos who’ve never been afraid to mine the depths of their music.

Recorded live in the round, with a consequent warm cohesion to the playing, Scottish singer and whistle player Julie Fowlis and her husband, Éamon Doorley, on bouzouki, fiddle and vocals have saddled up alongside Louth fiddler and singer Zoë Conway and her husband, John McIntyre, on guitar, piano and vocals.

Together the quartet have set about exploring old and new Gaelic poetry from Ireland and Scotland, and in the process they’ve fashioned a richly textured collection rooted in the magnificent vocals of Fowlis and her remarkable fiddle playing, along with Conway’s equally remarkable whistle.

Accompaniment is thoughtful and spacious, so that the poetry can breathe free of, but remain buoyed by the music. The quartet's canny choice of work from Máirtín Ó Direáin (in particular, Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa), Nioclás Ó Cearnaigh and Donald MacDonald anchor this visceral collection.


In truth, one of the albums of the year.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts