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Amy McAllister Amy McAllister
Album: String On String
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.amy-harp.com

First glance at Co. Antrim-born Amy's url, the cover and booklet's arty photos, and for that matter the CD's title, and you'd be forgiven for expecting her debut album to be a collection of dreamy harp tunes. Well it does include four well-contrasted harp-centred instrumental tracks: a nimble set of trad-arr, unidentified jigs, Catriona McKay's somewhat cryptically titled composition The Swan LK243, a deliciously sprung treatment of the harper's staple O'Carolan's Concerto, and - possibly best of all - the beautifully poised slow air Lament For Limerick. Although Amy's harp figures in the accompaniment on three other tracks, the remainder of the disc primarily showcases Amy's singing rather than her harpistry, while three of its songs (Holy Holy, Mi Amor and It's Been A Year) were written by Amy too. Of the disc's traditional songs, Over The Mountain and Matt Hyland are especially fetchingly done.

Amy possesses a distinctive vocal identity, with an attractive tone that also incorporates a pronounced ornamented vibrato (which for the most part is a pleasing constant rather than a distraction). She brings a charismatic lilt to any song she sings, and in that regard it might be tempting (albeit not entirely accurate) to initially compare Amy to Kate Rusby. Her taste for limpid musical backdrops suits the material too, and she's fortunate to have secured the production skills of Camille Champarnaud, who also contributes mandolin, fiddle, double bass, keyboards, guitar, bouzouki and some backing vocals (phew!). Additionally, Eoghan Scott plays guitar on five tracks, and Jos Kelly piano on one (Bonnie Blue Eyed Nancy) - but none of these musicians detract from Amy's own musical character rising to the foreground. For Amy brings a fresh contemporary approach to both her singing and playing, while all the while drawing on her traditional roots.

Amy's CV and back-story has already encompassed a wide range of exciting performance opportunities including appearances at several prestigious festivals, touring with Celtic Crossroads and Rhythm Of The Dance, and selection in 2016 as one of Moving On Music's Emerging Artists. The release of this full album, String On String, should bring her music to the attention of a wider public.

David Kidman