I've spoken before about how listening to music has been a big part of my life; how it affects me deeply and can even sometimes help with decision-making (or decision avoiding, if you put it on loud enough!).
I've always been a bit of an old rocker, the cliché Father: "This isn't music, back in my day...". And, out of principal, disliking the 'Cowell-ing' of music. But some years ago I discovered Folk, in a big way. I'd always liked 'crossover' acts, like The Levellers, that blend of a 'band' but with the traditional edge.
This led on to discovering artists like Cara Dillon, Show Of Hands and Seth Lakeman. But my big favourite, of this type of traditional music, is Julie Fowlis. Almost all of her songs are sung in Scots Gaelic - although she did do a couple of English songs for the Disney movie Brave. So, I have no idea what she is singing about, or what the meanings of the songs are. But the music and her voice really stir something deep down (this has nothing to do with how good looking she is, of course).
Scotland has always been in my heart, as a place to live. And, although it sounds somewhat airy-fairy of me, the music - found in the traditional Folk/Celtic genre and in movies, with a Scottish theme - has reinforced my love of the place. I really do hope to dunk my head in a barrel, Connor-style, at some point in the future...
So, I was excited to find that Julie's new album: Gach Sgeul/Every Story, was waiting for me, this morning, in my iTunes Library - after I pre-ordered it and forgot about it, some months ago. It's like a surprise present to yourself! I've now listened to it a few times and it may well be her best so far (this is her fourth album). Its full of beautiful songs, conjuring up the drama and history of the Highlands (and probably the Lowlands too); with incredible musicianship and arrangements; all complimenting her voice, which is exceptional, as usual.
Now, I'm not a professional music reviewer or 'critic' (only when it comes to my kids tastes) but it has saved my sanity this morning - workmen are using pneumatic drills on the outside wall of my building, about 2 feet from where I am sitting and Julie has soothed away the harshness. Plus, the headphones are set very loud!
I'd urge you to give it a try. I love the idea that I am spreading the word about Julie, and all of the other amazing 'traditional' musicians, out there, keeping alive the sounds and songs of our ancestors. Don't let the language 'barrier' put you off, it still 'works' without understanding a word. But personally, I feel I should try to learn the language, once I'm living the Highlander life (keeping my head hopefully). This will then give the songs a completely new and fresh perspective.
I just hope she isn't singing about dreamy-headed southerners invading the north!