Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
It could be argued that we don’t look for the mystery anymore, that we are not content with allowing the enigma of a feeling to grow inside of us and revelling in how it makes us look at the world, how it makes us connect with places, people, Time; instead we sanitise it, we take the pleasure and allow it to be broken and the magic to dissipate in the air, the spirit allowed to drift onto the next island of curiosity.
It is the people and their own idiosyncratic ways of this vast series of islands that suffer, we have forgotten that music has a way of connecting people even if we cannot speak the same language, the music should be seen as unifier, a bond that can make us see and feel beyond the strewn rocks and the mightiest wave of self doubt that crashes around us.
That feeling of kinship is evident in the release of Spiritual Music From The Hebrides, Live At An Lanntair, Isle of Lewis, an album that is resolute in its appreciation of Gaelic Psalm Singing and one that truly gets under the skin, one that nurtures and fosters a belief in taking the listener on a trip round the outmost part of the U.K. and allows them a brief glimpse inside the mind and to hear the voices of a set of people that many of will probably never have the pleasure of knowing personally.
For an island race we somehow cling together but we are more aware of what always happens in the built up areas, the cities with their often soulless concrete faith in what has gone before and never once embracing something new but so beautiful; it is in this that the various singers found on the C.D. have come together, to show just how the Gaelic music of the outer islands can be heard and be taken as a moment of delicious new experience.
With singers such as Calum Iain Macleod, Iain D. Campbell, Katy Graham, Jenna Cumming and Amy Mackay accompanying wonderful musicians as engaging as Alison Lawrence, Alex Tearse, Cheryl Crockett and Neil Johnstone, tracks as imposing, as expertly delivered with huge amounts of range as Stornaway, Wetherby, Torwood and Martydom all come together in a symphony of human perception, of reaching out to be understood beyond their native lands. It is an offering to those who can be deaf to the words and music of others just to try and live in a different language for a while; it is an polite imploring that moves mountains and breaks down barriers in the heart and soul.
An incredible experience to have heard, an even finer one to cherish; Spiritual Music From The Hebrides, Live At An Lanntair, Isle of Lewis, an hour of sublime education.
Ian D. Hall