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Downriver
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Karen Matheson; James Grant (guitar, dobro, E-bow, banjo, mandolin, background vocals); Cheryl Crockett, Jonathan Morton (violin); Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle); Jacqui Penfold (viola); Scottish Ensemble (strings); Ewen Vernal (double bass, background vocals); James MacKintosh (drums, percussion); D?nal Lunny (bouzouki, bodhran); Michael McGoldrick (pipe); James MacIntosh.
  • Recording information: Crear Studio, Kilberry, Argyll East (06/2005); PawPaw Studios, Glasgow, Scotland (06/2005); RSAMD, Glasgow, Scotland (06/2005).
  • Arrangers: Karen Matheson; D?nal Lunny.
  • Downriver is a gently rolling album, featuring Karen Matheson's resonant vocals on a handful of songs mostly in Gaelic. Everything -- the vocals, the songs, and the spare arrangements -- works in unison to evoke the quiet river of the album's cover. With their peaceful foundation, songs like "Chi Mi Bhuam" and "Gleann Baile Chaoil" are perfectly suited for quiet moments of reflection or just plain relaxation. Matheson is joined by a number of players, including pianist Donald Shaw (who also produced the album), guitarist James Grant, fiddler Aidan O'Rourke, and, in various places, several background singers, each helping to craft a seamless backdrop behind her vocals. Unless one happens to speak Gaelic, Downriver holds a certain air of mystery, because the lyrics aren't reprinted in the liner notes. The album deviates from this course in two instances with English versions of "I Will Not Wear the Willow" and "Singing in the Dark." This will probably matter little to most listeners, though some may find these deviations distracting to the flow and mystery of the album. Taken as a whole, however, Downriver is a very enjoyable effort that manages to combine the best of the old and new, and it will serve as a fine introduction to Matheson's warm vocals. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Professional Reviews
Dirty Linen (p.89) - "Much of the album is low key and set to uncluttered arrangements that support Matheson's voice."
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