Celtic Connections review: In The Tradition, Glasgow

The second of Celtic Connections’ In The Tradition triple bills featured singer/songwriters from England, Ireland and a collaborative project fronted by Highland songstress Rachel Sermanni and Indian composer, producer and Bollywood playback singer Papon.

London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney
London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney

In The Tradition - St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow

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Their opening set amounted to a gentle exploratory cross-pollination rather than fully realised integration of Sermanni’s fragrant folk pop and Papon’s devotional ragas, with much of the colour supplied by the tactile rhythms, including a burst of communal mouth percussion.

Tyrone-bred, Belfast-based singer Bernadette Morris is pure of pipes, like an Irish Kate Rusby. And like her English counterpart, she makes a point of unearthing some of the lesser sung material of her country, including in this set songs of emigration. Accompanied by guitar and whistles, she delivered her selections – of which John Spillane’s All The Ways You Wander was the most enrapturing – with a touch of reedy twang.

But most interesting was daffy London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney, who coaxed as many colours from her voice as her diverse repertoire and instrumentation suggested. Opening with a “modern native folk song”, which turned out to be Alasdair Roberts’ Waxwing bewitchingly rendered on harmonium, she intrigued and engaged with her musical storytelling, collaborations with Roberts and pianist David McGuinness and a seamless stylistic blend.