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Fiona Mackenzie - Elevate - The Irish World


29 January 2008
The Irish World
Shelley Marsden

New addition to the Linn Records catalogue is Scottish singer Fiona Mackenzie with her debut album, "Elevate". She's not a newcomer, having been in superb folk bands Seelyhoo and Anam before striking out solo. "Elevate" is incredibly original, ‘folk' but only if you put a gun to its head and force it to pick a genre - most folk albums aren't quite this inventive, quite so other-worldly.

Produced masterfully by Calum Malcolm, each track is nestled within lush layers of sound, perfect for cushioning the wispy vocals of MacKenzie, built up when needed, subtle when not. Particularly on the opener (When the Sunny Sky Has Gone), with its soft guitar and piano, I did think Katie Melua - but if you can move on from that disturbing thought, you can enjoy this album immensely.

Oh, and the title "Elevate" might suggest that you will hear uplifting music. You won't.  Beautiful as it is, this album is brooding, too - so look elsewhere if you need a musical pick-me-up. Minimal accompaniment in parts, added to Mackenzie's ethereal vocals, plus some wonderfully kooky lyrics and great pop tunes (listen to At the Bottom of the Sea), make this a sensuous treat.

The Gaelic track An Roghainn is a beauty, one of three which Mackenzie sings in her native tongue. The other two, Duisg Mo Chride and Hi O Hè, were written by MacKenzie and her sister Eilidh, the latter given some futuristic treatment and sax, fitting in perfectly with the fresh, experimental ethos of this album. 

"Elevate" is a haunting, exciting debut, and this Kate Bush meets Bjork of the Isle of Lewis is the voice taking traditional music to places it's seldom been before.


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