Drawing, this time, from wider sphere of influence than simply her native NE Scottish ballad tradition, Dark Turn of Mind features songs from across the Atlantic that allow subtle Appalachian hues to seep through and enrich her palette.
Right from the ‘get-go’- the Gillan Welch penned title track, given a ‘New Orleans meets Scottish East Coast wind’-type feel – there is a warm, uncluttered intimacy to the (Graham Rorie produced) sound; especially around Rory Matheson’s masterly piano embellishments.
Any keen follower of Scottish trad music will be aware of his technical dexterity, particularly after his nomination as a finalist in the 2018 BBC Radio Scotland Young Trad awards. However, he focuses, here, on some quite brilliantly empathic accompaniments with Iona, the highlight being the penultimate track: Let Him Sink – An Ozark Mountain song featuring Iona’s own melody; it has a wonderfully relaxed tidal pulse, and each listen deepens my appreciation of it.
Graham Rorie’s mandolin, together with Aidan Moodie’s guitar and harmony vocals, make significant contributions throughout (both of whom form part of the exciting, young band Gnoss).
But Iona, rightfully, has the last word, closing things with a wonderful a cappella rendition of Little Musgrave, enhanced by the informative sleeve essays (‘notes’ would do them a disservice) throughout the EP.
Whilst I dislike the word intensely, this is a release that I could imagine as a ‘crossover’ outside the tradition, attracting many new listeners to what is a widely-sourced collection delivered with supremely paced phrasing throughout.
And all from someone who has just turned 21. Remarkable!
AudioCelt Star Rating: 5 out of 5