Review | Songlines

To the Awe

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Rachel Newton

Label:

Shadowside Records

December/2020

With the same band she used for her award-winning Here’s My Heart Come Take It (drummer/producer Mattie Foulds, violinist Lauren MacColl, horn player Mikey Owers and singer Sarah Hayes), Rachel Newton recorded To the Awe during the April-May lockdown, not that you’d know it – they’re in the pocket and in the room when it comes to musical synergy. Newton draws on ancient ballads, weaving her own songs through them – the likes of ‘To My Daughter’ – while holding to the core theme, which she describes as ‘placing women at the centre of the narrative, at different stages of life and often marking a coming of age and an acquisition of power.

Opening song ‘The Early Morning’ has a strong percussive beat, drawing on the balladry of ‘The Outlandish Knight’, where toxic masculinity is the very devil himself. The music is a fabulous contrast to the story, while the driving harp and percussion on Gaelic song ‘Chaidil Mi A-Raoir air an Airigh’ unveils another tale of seriously unwanted male attention. The album’s title-track adapts a poem about the inspirational benefits of a long night on Cadair Idris, while trad ballads ‘Maid by the Shore’ and ‘Two Sisters’ are lyrical, driven accounts. Energetic, subtle and wide-ranging, this new release is worth your awe.

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