Album Review - Alyth McCormack / Tríona Marshall - Red & Gold

Scotland's strong tradition of song moulds itself with the luscious harp playing of Ireland's Tríona Marshall in a fascinating exploration of all that is good about these traditions.  The voice of Ályth McCormack is a treasure to behold and on Red & Gold it sparkles with its soft Scottish lilt on every track.  Not many of the songs will be familiar to people on this side of the water and so it brings the listener into new territory.  The songs are glorious in their arrangement with harp and violin feeding off each other to great effect.  Accompaniment is never overpowering or distracting, being sensitively handled by Noel Eccles, Jonny Hardie and Cammy Maxwell.  Alyth and Tríona met through their joint work with The Chieftains and so began a musical friendship that has led us to Red & Gold.

They present an eclectic mix of songs that are totally engrossing.  The opening composition by Swarbrick/Thompson titled Crazyman Michael as well as Chicago Rain by a good friend of  Tríona's are great discoveries.   A cup of coffee in Dublin with Eleanor McEvoy unearthed a gem called The Sea is Huge.  Putting the word "huge" in the title of a song must be a near first.  It works not because of its rhyming prowess, but for the pure boldness of using it.  Masterful.  Tríona's harp playing and Eccles percussion on Mar a tha ( The Way It Is ) break new ground in the way they underscore Alyth’s pure voice.  The Saw Set in itself is worth the album price alone.  A beautiful simple and addictive tune that sets off with a repetitive chant of sorts and evolves into an even more addictive second half.  More traditional songs in English such as One In A Million show that song choice is everything.  It is a song with a detailed story narrative that you don't hear that often these days.


Red & Gold is a great partnership between two artists at the height of their creativity.  It is an album that requests repeated plays as you rumble through that stack of Cd's.  With Alyth spending more time in Dublin these days we are hopeful that a new recordings will follow shortly.


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