Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
In even the cloudiest day there has to be some sunshine, a ray of tiny hope, of the singular thought that come the following morning all will be cool and well; that humanity will have realised finally that the pursuit of monetary gain is nothing compared to the sight of seeing someone waiting for you on the doorstep with welcome arms as you approach your Homelands.
Home is the place where they take you in, it can be a solitary heart, a group of people who miss you or an entire city who appreciates what you bring with you in way of baggage or even in terms the sorrow and sadness attached to the slowly ticking clock underneath the rib cage. Homelands is where they sing and for Alyth, the Homelands is a moment of extreme beauty wrapped in the thought of the sensual and the happiness of finding a place to be.
The beauty of the Gaelic language, the choice of words of the rhythmical and the flowing grace are perhaps at times seen to be seen as playthings in the wrong hands, those with ulterior motives to be seen as closed and snide. However, in the right hands, with someone whose heart bounds with joy to bring these corporeal, almost heavenly words to bring forth truth and enlightenment, they are words in which the afflicted can take stock and hope from.
These words, the hope and the charm of such innocent wonder are captured in Alyth’s new album Homelands and even when the music slips in to the English tongue, the sense of rhythm is still there bouncing along as if a kangaroo had slipped its leash on O’ Connell Street and found glory in the new found freedom of self expression as it skipped happily between the Post Office and the Parnell Monument.
There is though the sadness that the English language cannot express and the missing perhaps of Scotland, the self-imposed exile that she made by making Ireland her home, despite the nestling of songs that make up the album. Songs such as The Lambs on the Greenhills, Carrickfergus, Raglan Road, A Mhairi Bhoidheach (My Beautiful Mary), the heartbreaking My Grandmother’s Eyes and Chaidh mo Dhonnchad donn bheinn (My Duncan) all remonstrate the tussle between where you are from and where you are. Sometimes these feelings cannot be explained but the rarity of someone putting into words that depth of gravity goes a long way to pull you from the darkness that corners the listener and for Alyth, it is the sound of a heart, true to its soul but one wrestling in the same fight and on the same team as the listener.
Beautifully constructed, balanced and sartorially elegant, Homelands calls out to those who find themselves lost and alone, and to those whose heart creatively wanders and holds out hope. Tremendous!
Ian D. Hall