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Re-issued Album box-set: Julie Fowlis, Cuilidh (Shoeshine)

Reviewed by Andy Gill

Since its release in 2007, Julie Fowlis's Cuilidh has become probably the biggest-selling Gaelic album of all time, and Fowlis herself has been transformed into an in-demand figurehead of the burgeoning Scots Gaelic folk movement.

Hence this Special Edition boxed reissue of the album, accompanied by a second CD of five performances from last year's Celtic Connections concert in Glasgow, and Fowlis's Gaelic version of "Blackbird" ("Lon-dubh"), recorded for a Beatles tribute album; plus an additional DVD featuring a seven-minute documentary about the singer. As might be expected from a Hebridean singing mostly traditional material, there's a sharply parochial bent to these songs, two of which concern the elopement of a local North Uist woman with a man from Skye, while in another a woman expresses her determination to marry a poor local lad rather than the rich man from Harris, "an owner of ships and galleys", whom her parents would prefer as a son-in-law. Best of all are the various examples of "mouth music": rapid rhymes dealing humorously with such matters as food, manure, fishing, houses, and improbably-sized bonnets, set to perkily cantering combinations of guitar, bouzouki, fiddle and mandolin.

Pick of the Album: 'Hùg air a' Bhonaid Mhòir', 'Turas san Lochmor', 'Puirt-a-beul Set', 'Mo Dhòmhnallan Fhèin'



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