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Amy Henderson Amy Henderson
Album: Soul For A Compass
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 9

An assured debut release from singer and accordionist Amy Henderson, this nine track CD mixes traditional tunes and songs, with Henderson's own compositions.

Her artistic path has taken her from home and family, in the village of Kiltarlity, twelve miles inland from Inverness and deep in the Highlands of Scotland, via Plockton School of Musical Excellence, and Newcastle's folk degree course, with a detour to Australia on a BBC scholarship, and then back to the north, where she presently lives and works, playing and teaching music of and for the community.

Inspired by Phil Cunningham (who she saw playing when she was just eight), Henderson demonstrates her considerable ability and her own style on this recording, framed by a superb band. Tastefully unobtrusive for the most, they cut loose with a real swing when needed.

The album kicks off with Mary Chapin Carpenter's 'Why Walk When You Can Fly'. Accordion and piano (Marc Clement) lay down a subtle Caledonian groove, Henderson floats vocals over the top, before Hector McInnis' ride cymbal implodes into the mix, his snare brushwork evocative of a Saturday night ceilidh. Intrinsically Scottish in style and tone, but with a swagger of its own, the song is combined with a Bruce McGregor reel, 'Highlander's Revenge'.

Henderson has a fine, clear voice, but it is the accordion that takes centre stage. The traditional 'Lady Mary Ramsey' starts with a syncopated riff, Henderson and band settle into a mellow grove, then switch to an air, before Henderson cuts in the afterburners with a set of fast reels, played with both accuracy and passion.

The beautiful and haunting 'Kirsty and Kevin', an original composition, is a standout, with eloquent double bass from Euan Burton. 'Bonny Ship the Diamond' has more than a hint of the Easy Club arrangement of the song. 'Linda and Kenny's Waltz' (with some fine left-hand work, counter- melody and chords) has an American feel. 'Make up Your Mind' is a gentle county rocker, Henderson soloing capably in a blues style. There's mischief and humour in her singing of the number.

The hardworking Henderson is a 'usual suspect' in the north of Scotland, but you will look for her in vain on the touring circuit. She concentrates instead on playing for workshops and weddings, communities and ceilidhs, teaching and tutoring to pass on her skills. The honest delight and authentic passion she brings to the material is a joy to listen to.

An album worth a listen from a fresh and unpretentious new voice, an undiscovered gem for the present, and one to watch for the future.

Produced by Henderson and Marc Clement

Laura Thomas