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Rachel NewtonRachel Newton
Album: Here's My Heart Come Take It
Label: Caribou
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.rachelnewtonmusic.com

Rachel Newton is a very busy lady. Much in demand as a harpist and vocalist, she is a founder member of both The Shee and The Furrow Collective, as well as the new collaboration Boreas. Here's My Heart Come Take It is Rachel's third solo offering and features Newton's regular collaborators Lauren MacColl and Mattie Foulds.

The title track is taken from the Max Hunter Collection, a travelling salesman and song collector in the Ozarks region of Missouri and Arkansas. It's a fairly traditional scorned love story with a haunting melody enhanced by the atmospheric arrangement. Also from the same collection is Don't Go Out Tonight My Darling and Poor Lost Babe. The first is a tender plea to an alcoholic to put his loved one before his beloved rum. The soothing harp accompaniment really suits the tender plea and the mournful last verse about faded dreams. The second is another gentle song about a lost child, again with a tasteful and subtle accompaniment.

As a Gaelic speaker, Rachel has also included some Gaelic songs. The waulking song Gura Mise Tha Fo Mhulad is possibly my favourite track from the album with the strong rhythmic impetus so typical of the Gaelic Waulking songs. The closing track is the sole instrumental number, an original from Rachel, One Hour More.

Overall, this album has a haunting quality and a feeling of contemplation. The connecting theme of love and heartbreak that runs through all the songs does provide a sense of melancholy but then, most folk songs do feature death, despair and unrequited love. The carefully considered track listing showcases both Rachel's ethereal vocals and accomplished harp playing that makes it a beautifully conceived album.

Nicky Grant

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