Rura release Dusk Moon, their fourth studio album, on March 17th. I’ve previously described Rura’s music as “engaging the spirit”, the notes that come with the album describe it as an “intoxicating sound”. There’s a wealth of very good music and bands coming from Scotland at the moment – and Rura stand out even in this company. This is all the more impressive since there are only four in the band Steven Blake (pipes, keys), Jack Smedley (fiddle), David Foley (flute, bodhran) and Adam Brown (bass).
It’s around five years since Rura’s last studio album and the more recent Live At The Old Fruitmarket from 2020 was geared very much to the live set at Celtic Connections, most tracks rising to a glorious climax and the audience rousing themselves alongside the music. Dusk Moon has nine tracks and a more varied set of tracks, showcasing the band’s reflective subtlety as much as their barn-storming energy.
The album opens with ‘Journeys Home’, an initial single piano note being built on as guitar, fiddle, flute and pipes create a richer soundscape. The title track follows, inspired by the work of Calum E McClure who has created two of Rura’s album covers (Dusk Moon and In Praise of Home). The beginning captures the dreamscape feel of the cover, builds some frenetic fiddle playing, and slows at the end to lead us into the third track ‘Think of Today’, a delicate tune written for Smedley’s wife.
‘The Soft Mist Over All’, as you might guess from its title, continues the reflective feel until its halfway point and then kicks on. It was written for some fellow musicians’ wedding day and the two parts capture both the serious element of a wedding day and the celebrations after the ceremony. ‘The Grove’ continues the upturn in pace on the album, finishing with an all-hands-on-deck roisterous close which will be a great addition to the live set. ‘Rise’ is cheery, moving the album on to what are probably my favourite section – the final three tracks of ‘Hollow Ground’, ‘The Crossing’ and ‘A Minor Emergency’.
‘Hollow Ground’ was inspired by long walks in ancient forests; it begins with a mellifluous flow on piano and continues dreamlike as first the fiddle and then the rest of the band join in – a relaxation tune. ‘The Crossing’ was inspired by crossing to Colonsay in a gale on a rib, courage fortified by life jackets – and a bottle of malt. If you’ve ever been on a rib in bad weather, you’ll recognise why this tune builds with the excitement of your heart pounding as your brain and body conflate the sheer bonkersness of what you’re doing with the excitement of doing it. ‘A Minor Emergency’ rounds off the album, a three-tune set, with the final ‘The Reel O’Garten’ written to finish off the album with a track that, again, will no doubt be a great crowd-pleaser when the band play it live.
The band’s website gives details of their upcoming tour, with dates from March 9th to April 8th. Have a listen to Dusk Moon, go and see the band live, engage your spirit and be intoxicated by their music. Rura has an impressive back catalogue already, Dusk Moon builds on it.
Artist’s website: https://www.rura.co.uk
The most recent video we can find (featuring Julie Fowlis as a bonus) – ‘Dh’èirich Mi Moch Madainn Cheòthar’: