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Donegal Rain by Andy M. Stewart
Andy M. Stewart was best known as the frontman of the popular Scottish heritage group Silly Wizard. On Donegal Rain, the fourth and last of his solo albums, Stewart expands on his folk roots and brings them into the present day with modern sounds and rock instrumentation. "Ramblin' Irishman" comes from Stewart's neighboring nation to open the album, with the characteristic sound of an easy modern beat behind his rich voice, which is ornamented with the turns so frequently heard in Celtic music. "Matt Hyland" is a more sedate tune, telling the ever-popular story of star-crossed young lovers, and "Gallant Murray" is a Jacobite rallying song straight out of the Outlander era. "Queen Amangst the Heather" pulls back to a simple voice-and-guitar arrangement, while "Tibbie Fowler o' the Glen" adds a full rock-and-roll complement to Robert Burns's 1796 poem about a wealthy young woman who's swamped by cash-seeking suitors (they're even in the pantry with her!). "Reckless Affection" is a purely modern song - a soulful voice pining for a love he should not pursue. "The Irish Stranger," "Mary and the Hielan' Sodger," and "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" are all very typical heritage tunes, while "When You Took Your Love" is another modern composition. "Donegal Rain" slows everything down with a different musical take, this time scoring a traditional song against a gentle piano accompaniment, always showcasing Stewart's warm and rich voice. It can be a strange listening experience to hear modern instruments backing Stewart's folk song lyrics, often in Scots English (you might feel like you need a dictionary), but Donegal Rain makes the experience enjoyable. - Michelle (Sunset)
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