Heather Downie announces her first solo album

Heather Downie

Harpist and singer Heather Downie was introduced to Scottish music by the late Martyn Bennett at the age of nine and has been involved in music ever since. Graduating from the RSAMD with a first class honours degree, Heather went on to achieve distinction in her postgraduate diploma in performance studies. No stranger to performing Heather was a Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist in 2015. She teaches at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and plays with the band Top Floor Taviers. She has toured across Europe and America and is the Co-founder of Harp Bazaar teaching and promoting group work for the harp.

In her debut album; Nae Sweets For Shy Bairns, Heather holds nothing back in her fresh, feisty approach to her harp playing. The album features self-penned tunes and songs such as the dark ‘Stalky Nightmare’ and rhythmic ‘William The Conqueror’ as well as a gentler sound in ‘Under The Stars’ which features a soundscape created from a field recording on a recent trip to Europe. Heather also honours the traditional with her arrangement of ‘Neil Gow’s Lament For The Death Of His Second Wife’ and her ‘harp take’ of Piobaireachd with Donald MacLeod’s ‘Field Of Gold’. The album also features percussion and guitar from Tia Files and guest vocals from producer Corrina Hewat.

The album launch is on 28th January 2018 at Celtic Connections in Piping Centre. The album will be toured nationwide in June 2018

Artist’s website: www.heatherdownie.co.uk

Heather with the Top Floor Taivers – ‘Captain Ward’:

RACHAEL McSHANE – No Man’s Fool (Navigator Records NAVIGATOR27)

Better known as the only female member of Bellowhead the cellist and singer Rachael McShane will certainly turn a few heads with this excellent recording. The jury’s still out if the album is folk/jazz or jazz/folk and if you hear the opening track “Captain Ward” you’ll see what I mean. Lyrically speaking the element of traditional folk music runs like a seam of gold throughout the recording but it has to be said that the emphasis in the arrangements most definitely falls in favour of jazz. For those old enough to remember the band Pyewackett (in their early days) and come to think of it June Tabor this will be familiar territory as the use of chords by piano and keyboards maestro James Peacock provides the ‘mood’ and timbre behind the arrangements. With the excellent Jonathan Proud on electric bass and Adam Sinclair on drums and percussion and additional backing from Julien Batten (piano accordion), Tom Oakes (flute), Sam Sweeney (fiddle), Andrew Bickendike (trumpet) and Jamie Toms & Charlotte Jones on saxophones the lady’s done good. From “The Highway Man Outwitted” where the perpetrator suffers the indignation of having the tables turned on him to the dramatic tale of “Miles Weatherhill” where the music as well as the story turns nasty (think Steeleye’s interpretation of Long Lankin as a reference) half way through the narrative this CD really could cause a few ‘tut-tuts’ from the ‘folk’ mafia but personally speaking I say ‘go for it’…after all you’re only young once!