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Rebekah Findlay - Northern Skies (Self Release)
Velvety voiced North Yorkshire singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist - with clearly an impeccable taste in song/album naming - Rebekah Findlay releases her debut album with a handful of self-penned songs, mixed with a scattering of traditional material as well as the odd poem thrown in. Beautifully packaged with a specially illustrated booklet containing both her lyrics and her own artwork, NORTHERN SKIES captures a delicate beauty, which tends to stay with you long after the record stops.
There's a sense of pure escapism in both the music, the photography and the artwork that accompanies the album, whether it involves wandering the shores of Luskentyre, reflecting upon the first hints of love by the harbour wall, or perhaps even pondering upon knights who once sipped wine from goblets gold, the essence of remembrance is here in all its daydreaming.
Luskentyre by the Sea exemplifies this notion of escapism probably best of all and takes little effort in transporting you to the sand dunes and rocks of this remote Hebridean paradise. There's a strong relationship with the sea throughout, hinted at or mentioned in songs such as Far From Home, Viking Blood (from which the album borrows its title), In Stone (Haul in the Bowline), Duty Bound and Harbour Wall with further hints by way of the traditional Scarborough Fair.
If much of the album settles into a delicate, almost laid back feel, there are moments that reveal a much stronger vocal delivery, a voice that could easily fall into the genre of full blown folk rock, in much the same way Sandy Denny did in the early Fairport days, The Blacksmith and In Stone for instance. Rebekah surprises us with a tribute to Was Not Was with a fiddle strumming Out Comes the Freaks bonus track, shoved on the end. Duty Bound on the other hand, a beautiful song about a lonely lighthouse keeper, brings with it an already established reputation, having won for Rebekah the 'song of the year' award in 2008 from Klondyke Folk Arts.
Although relatively new to the acoustic singer-songwriter scene, Rebekah is no stranger to the folk world having worked in the Ceilidh band Burning Bridges in her teens, toured Europe with the Cleveland Youth Orchestra, played the Royal Albert Hall with Egglescliffe School Orchestra, together with a brief stint with Young Northern Sinfonia. There was even a long break away from music, where Rebekah honed her skills at web design and graphic art, thankfully to return with a new focus on songwriting.
With this collection of songs, sung in her own vernacular and with the help of fellow FiddLyn Man Doris (session band) members Iain Glover on mandolin and Joolz Cavel on percussion, together with Ben Findlay on vocals and Chris Davison on lead guitar, Rebekah has produced a first rate debut, which will no doubt open ears and hearts far and wide given the chance.