Mairi Morrison / Alasdair Roberts

Urstan

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AllMusic Review by

The story of this album's genesis is as fascinating as the songs found on it. Through Glasgow, Scotland's Centre for Contemporary Arts, Scottish artist and student of traditional U.K. folk music Alasdair Roberts and singer, actress, and playwright Mairi Morrison were brought together to collaborate on an album that would celebrate Gaelic culture and language. The result is a collection of tunes -- some traditional, some written specifically for the album by Roberts and Morrison -- providing a stirring and spirited listening experience, particularly when the pair, backed up by an able ensemble of bass, fiddle, and drums, kicks up some dust on swirling, stomping numbers like "Larach do Thacaidean" and "Hion Dail-a Horo Hi." The album also connects these traditional Gaelic songs with the worldwide folk tradition. "Ailein Duinn" stands as a direct antecedent to the Appalachian lament "O Death" (heard most notably on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack), and "The Laird o' the Drum" moves with the woozy joy of a modern pop act. What comes across most effectively is the ease that both Roberts and Morrison have with one another. Their vocals settle in together comfortably. That feeling adds even more bubbling warmth to this already toasty disc.

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