Rachel McShane and the Cartographers – When all is Still

Album Review | Topic | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Some delightful arrangements of traditional songs each with a contemporary feel. Rachael’s voice may not be quite as distinctive as Kate Rusby or Ruth Notman (for instance), but clearly her arrangements fall along similar lines. It’s been almost ten years since Rachael’s debut album No Man’s Fool, which is largely due to her long time commitment to Bellowhead, for which she was a founder member. Working with such an outfit would no doubt have prepared the singer, in terms of touring, stagecraft and studio work and with these songs and tunes, we find a confident artist poised to take the spotlight once again. The material chosen for this project deserves a good home and it’s with Topic Records that Rachael now finds herself, one of the oldest independent folk labels, not only in the UK, but in the world. Songs such as “Ploughman Lads”, “Green Broom”, “Two Sisters” and notably Rachael’s reading of “Lady Isabel”, clearly demonstrate a natural flair for storytelling. With fellow ex-Bellowheaders Paul Sartin and Andy Melon on board, along with a fine cast of musicians, notably Matthew Ord and Julian Sutton (The Cartographers), When all is Still should see Rachael emerge as a British folk music ‘A’ lister with little fuss whatsoever.