Julie Fowlis – My 10 favorite musicians in 10 days.

We’re on day three now. Sorry to those who have been checking for these posts in the mornings. I don’t get time to adequately research each musician until late in the evenings and I’d hate to write a post without trying to give you as much information as I can as I wouldn’t be doing the musicians justice if I was only writing a quick note about each one.

Tonight, I’ve decided to tell you about another singer. People who know me very well will be surprised I think at the number of singers I plan to cover in this top ten as my main love in music is instrumentals. I prefer tunes to songs any day but the singers I’ve been introduced to especially over the past six years have really changed my perspective and opinions.

One such singer that really opened my ears was Julie Fowlis. As soon as I heard her I was instantly attracted to the recognisable Scottish rhythms and melodies. I also love that she doesn’t ever sing in English but instead sings in her native language Scots Gaelic. Unfortunately this is very different to Irish Gaelic therefore I’m unable to understand anything she sings but that really doesn’t matter. I can sit and listen for hours to her voice, the melodies, the musical arrangements of the backing instruments and as I said earlier, the very obvious Scottish rhythms. It’s said that Scottish tunes and songs are more rhythmic and less melodic than Irish equivalents however Julie’s choice of music blows this notion out of the water. Take for example the song Hug Air A Bhonald Mhoir from the album Cuilidh. This is upbeat but has a really lovely tune behind it. It would be in 4 4 time but it isn’t strictly. I have absolutely no idea what she’s singing about. All her songs might be about the joys of milking cows but it really doesn’t matter.

Julie is also a very nice whistle player. Track 6 on the same album Cuilidh and track 3 on the album Mar a tha mo chridhe feature her on the whistle however it’s very funny to look through the album listing as I write this as on each CD she just calls them jigs and reels or set of jigs. She seems to be like most of us traditional musicians. She doesn’t know the names of the tunes!

One of my favourite songs by Julie Fowlis has to be on her latest CD Uam. It’s called Thig Am Bàta. I have to admit, the main reason I like it so much is because of the arrangement. It just has Julie singing and a bodhran player backing. The rhythm makes the bodhran player’s job a little difficult but he really excels. I don’t think I’ve heard many bodhran players that could have pulled that off. Of course, dragging myself away from the Bodhran for a moment, another one of my favourites has to be Puirt from the album Mar a tha mo chridhe. I love the way this song changes beat three times and the tunes at each change always sound refreshing. I’d love to know what those pipes are accompanying her. I know I should instantly recognise them but I can’t for some reason. However, the below video shows her playing the pipes. Tony Byrne is listed as an accompanist? That’s cool. I haven’t seen him in about a year. I played a few sessions with him not so long ago around Dublin. He’s a hell of a guitar player.

Ok. I think I’ve said about enough in this post. Let me leave you with the last video of Julie. Listen to how fast she’s singing and the skill of staying in tune at that speed! It has to be very difficult.