FolkWords Reviews

‘Between River and Railway’ by Claire Hastings - enduring sense of beauty, both vocals and music

(March 10, 2016)

Pure is an oft-used word to describe the human voice, listen to the debut album ‘Between River and Railway’ from Scottish folk singer songwriter Claire Hastings, and you’ll get as close to the true meaning of the word ‘pure’ in reference claire hastings album coverto a singing voice as you’re likely to hear.

The album takes its title ‘Between River and Railway’ from the farm at Holywood, outside Dumfries South West Scotland, where Claire Hastings spent her childhood - between the River Nith and the adjacent Glasgow-to-Carlisle railway line. Throughout the album, whether Claire is singing in the tradition, about her home, sharing life experiences or interpreting the works of Robert Burns and William Douglas, there’s an enduring sense of beauty, in both vocals and music.

From the ‘The House at Rosehill’, which rejoices in fond memories of her family home, through the harrowing ‘Son of No One’ telling the tragic tale of a mass children’s grave at an unmarried mothers’ home in Ireland, to Roddy MacMillan’s ‘Let Ramensky Go’, an homage to career criminal and safebreaker Johnny Ramensky who became a local legend with multiple prison-breaks, the power of the narratives reaches out in a strikingly personal way. Other stand-out include a delicious self-penned melody added to ‘The Posie’ by Robert Burns, a fine rendition of ‘Annie Laurie’ and another startling original ‘Gretna Girls’, which tells of the hazardous occupation of women working in a munitions factory during the First World War.

Joining Claire Hastings (vocals, ukulele) are Jenn Butterworth (guitar, vocals) Laura Wilkie (fiddle) Andrew Waite (accordion) Duncan Lyall (bass) Martin O’Neill (percussion) Ali Hutton (electric guitar, synths) and Keir Long (keys, synths).

The album, released on Claire’s Luckenbooth label, launches on 29th April 2016, find out more here: www.clairehastings.com

Review: Tim Carroll

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