Amy Duncan - Cycles of Life - Herald Scotland

Anyone with half an ear on Scottish music-making in recent times will be familiar with the palette of sound on the fourth album from award-winning songwriter Amy Duncan, a classically trained bassist who worked with now legendary alternative band Swelling Meg and whose pure-toned voice has been justly praised.

With members of the SCO string section and Mr McFall's Chamber on hand, Calum Malcolm in the producer's chair and Duncan's own multi-instrumental talents accompanied by harp and dobro guitar specialists, you probably even have a pretty accurate idea of what the set sounds like - and it is every bit as precisely realised as the label it is on might lead to expect.

Add to that use of repeated piano figures - with particular success on Your Very Soul - that recall the solo work of soundtrack composer Craig Armstrong, and there might be a suspicion these are all ingredients you have heard before.
But that would be to overlook the intensely personal nature of Duncan's writing, which describes a personal journey through some unhappiness during which her songwriting has been cathartic. That's the real reward of the 40 minutes in her company that is Cycles of Life.

01 May 2013