Words by Tim Cumming
Rachel Newton is nothing if not busy – a member of The Shee, the Emily Portman Trio, the Furrow Collective and a participant in The Elizabethan Session – and here, on her second solo album the singer and harpist focuses on the rich loam of myth and folklore concerning faeries and the metaphors of the changeling in the Scottish and British tradition.
It’s a quietly compelling set, mixing Gaelic songs with Child Ballads and airs. Opener ‘Mo Chubhrachan (Fairy Lullaby)’ sets out its stall with sweet backing vocals from Corrina Hewat, while ‘The Fairy Man’, set to poetry by Sidney Goodsir Smith, is voiced by Adam Holmes, and the haunting ‘Queen of Elfan’s Nourice’ tells of a mother (rather than an infant) being taken away by the faeries – in order to be a nursemaid to a faery child. ‘Three Days’ is a dense and gorgeous setting of fiddle, viola and cello, and the closing ‘Changeling Air’, an improvisation around an original melody, ends the set with aplomb. On Changeling you really feel the pull of enchantment and the mystery of the otherworld from which these songs and airs have grown over the centuries.
Track to Try: ‘Three Days’