The Rheingans Sisters – Bright Field

Album Review | RootBeat Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Bright Field is the third album from The Rheingans, musicians, composers and folk music scholars. Anna is a Toulouse based musician and violin teacher. Rowan balances this duo with the Lady Maisery trio and has appeared on three notable releases in the last two years, including the Songs of Separation project which won BBC Radio Two’s Folk Award for best album of 2017. Bright Field’s music is atmospheric, twining voices and violins with beating drums. “Bright Field” crackles with pastoral energy as wooden instruments and human voices connect to the landscape. From Kathleen Neeley’s evocative woodcut imagery on the sleeve, to the woodland photos inside, the power of nature revealed in “Green Unstopping” and the masterpiece that is “This Forest” a sense of the power of the natural runs through. Dylan Fowler’s recording gives the individual instruments space so you hear air and resonance. This is not a multi-tracked, textured album, but an exercise in delicate fragility where every nuance is heard and treasured. The beautiful vocals and soaring strings on “Edge of the Field” are quietly revealing, an exercise in measured passion. Every note in Three Springs the closing instrumental chimes and sings. “Dark Nights/Swinghorn” illustrates the sisters’ belief that lightness and darkness exist at the same time, intertwined. There is dark beauty and light beauty. The first tune is unsettling with a degree of dissonance and the second by comparison uplifting as the sunlight returns. “Bright Field” is an exercise in minimalism, the duetting violins slowly build tension till it released by Dafydd Davies-Hughes reading RS Thomas’ poem. That same beautiful gradual release comes into play on Lo Segoner where instruments joined by spiralling heavenly voices. Balanced and interlinked beauty and moments of darkness, this is an emotional and uplifting album. Given room to breathe, the music of The Rheingans Sisters just soars.