Reviews

CaraCara
Album: Yet We Sing
Label: Artes
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.cara-music.com/

A band established thirteen years ago as a result of Germany's longstanding love affair with Celtic music, the current line-up of Cara features four of that country's finest traditional musicians, together with the celebrated Scottish singer-songwriter and pianist Kim Edgar. Cara deliver an innovative blend of old and new material, with traditional and folk-pop stylings fronted by twin lead vocals.

Cara's fifth studio album, and the second featuring Edinburgh's very own Kim Edgar, will be released in mid-January 2016. The UK launch of "Yet We Sing" will take place in late January, during Celtic Connections in Glasgow, and will be followed up with a short Scottish tour taking in Inverness, Dunfermline and Edinburgh.

The album opens with "A Leaf For A Sail", a bold and imaginative new song by Kim Edgar, featuring her trademark graceful vocals and elegant piano and embellished by some soaring instrumentation and bewitching vocal harmonies from Kim and Gudrun Walther.

Gudrun Walther's first opportunity to shine on lead vocals comes with an epic version of the traditional murder ballad "Little Musgrave", which will be familiar to Planxty fans. Gudrun's warm and engaging vocals alternate with some brooding musical interludes as the song builds gradually to its climax of betrayal, murder and remorse.

While its two charismatic female singer-songwriters shape and define the Cara sound, the combined musical virtuosity of the quintet (Jurgen Treyz on guitar and dobro; Hendrik Morgenbrodt on uillean pipes, flute and whistles; Rolf Wagels on bodhran; Gudrun Walther on fiddle and accordion; and Kim Edgar on piano) produces sweeping arrangements and passages of dazzling interplay on the album's various tune sets. The musical influences are as diverse as Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, Britanny and North America and the exhilarating playing is of the kind normally experienced only in a live setting.

Another traditional ballad, "The Elfin Knight", offers a quietly compelling vocal from Kim Edgar, showing her mastery of singing in the native Scots language. Kim also contributes another new original song, the life-affirming "Anchor In The Sky".

Gudrun Walther's two original compositions comprise the stirring "Cain's War", written the day after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris at the start of 2015 and reflecting on the pointless and tragic loss of life across the world, and through the ages, as a result of religious differences; and the quietly defiant "Yet We Sing", closing the album with a celebration of the healing power of music and song.

"Yet We Sing" is a beautifully balanced collection of songs and tunes, which have an immediate impact and reveal more of their sophistication and charm with subsequent plays.

Cara's UK album launch on 27th January in Glasgow promises to be a special occasion and I'm personally looking forward to catching the band live for the first time when they play Edinburgh's Queen's Hall on 30th January.

David Ferguson