Hannah Rarity – Neath the Gloaming Star

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 5/5

The absolute star of this excellent album is Hannah Rarity’s voice, delicate and pure, full of nuance on “Wasting Time” and “Where Are You (Tonight I Wonder)”, revisited from Hannah’s 2016 Beginnings EP, or more powerful but still perfectly phrased on “Neath the Gloamin Star at E’en”. Hannah, BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the year in 2018, delivers a debut album that packs a quietly powerful punch, as arresting as a footstep in an empty county Chapel. The music around the voice has a beautiful stillness too, like looking out over gently falling snow. John Lowrie’s piano on “The Land O’ the Leal” is perfect chamber jazz, as delicate and considered as Hannah’s stunning vocal, Sally Simpson’s fiddle and Viola add atmosphere. Hannah is a subtle, understated interpreter of songs, effortlessly making classics like Andy M Stewart’s “Where Are You (Tonight I Wonder)” her own. Alongside this considerable talent the two of her own songs on the album, “The Moon Shined Bright on My Bed Last Night” and “Wasting Time” are also delights, beautifully delivered. “Alison Cross”, a version of the Child Ballard, which I know as a Psych Folk Rock Stormer by Mark three Steeleye Span here is a beguiling swirling jewel shot through with dialect and fire. Innes White contributes some perfectly phrased, understated guitar parts through the album, echoing but never smothering the song or Hannah’s star voice. Stalwart musician Phil Cunningham delivers waves of ethereal Accordion, adding a shimmering accompaniment to “Rose O’ Summerlee” and another perfectly phrased stunning performance by Hannah Rarity. Sitting here, early on a crisp bright September morning, Hannah Rarity’s music is a delicate perfect accompaniment to the scene, but I’m sure full summer sun with lush greens and deep shadows or winter’s falling snow and smothering thick mist this beautiful album would fit perfectly cinematically whatever ever the scene. It’s customary to pick a track to accompany the review, but it’s hard to pick just one from the light and shade of Rarity’s take on “Erin Go Bragh”, the slightly country “Wander Through This Land” or nine other gems.