'Skorsa: The Riddle Of The Earth' by Susan Grace Bates - a gathering of sources and cultural influences(June 17, 2015)
The ability to extract new messages and take different directions with ‘the tradition’ and then blend that combination precisely with self-penned compositions so that the join, if any exists becomes undiscernible is a considerable talent. ‘Skorsa: The Riddle of the Earth’, the debut album from harpist and singer Susan Grace Bates achieves that balance through a collection that encompasses original material, tunes absorbed from a gathering of sources and many cultural influences. On this album, along with her personal compositions, inspirations from Ireland sit alongside those from Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Scotland. The result is inspired, delicate and impressive.
The essence of ‘Skorsa: The Riddle of the Earth’ is the singular impression of Susan’s touch on the harp, beyond lies a pure and soaring voice and the skill to bring together the right musicians to translate the elements into life. The delicate expression of ‘Cavers’ leads in with a mix of written and remembered tunes, before Susan further reveals her writing and playing skills with ‘Maigh Rua’ and the wistful ‘Dunamoy’. The Scandinavian influence is discovered through the charming ‘Siljan At Dawn’, mixed with another original in ‘Erie’s’ and the whimsical attraction of ‘Norr Wee Gin’. The Scottish Borders exert their influence through her interpretation of ‘Lowthian’s’ and the infectious vibrancy of ‘Starfly’ before the gentle ‘Lullaby’ delves into an Estonian direction.
That this is a debut album is hard to accept, the musicianship and composition belie the fact, as does the versatile talent on display. ‘Skorsa: The Riddle of the Earth’ is an album to savour … you will want more.
The music is brought out by the masterful production abilities of John McSherry and Donal O’Connor. Performing alongside Susan Grace Bates (harp, vocals) are John McSherry (whistle) Donal O’Connor (fiddle) Ross Martin (guitar) David Foley (bodhran) and Pauline Scanlon (vocals) and Kerry Bryson (cello). Discover Susan Grace bates and her music here: www.susangracebates.com
Review: Tim Carroll