Deirdre Graham – Urranta
Written by ross macfadyen on November 28, 2020
URRANTA is the long-anticipated release from Gaelic singer Deirdre Graham. Comprising a series of traditional songs that have long inspired Deirdre, the album is rooted in the sounds of her native home on the Isle of Skye and its surrounding areas. Introducing Deirdre’s raw and evocative vocals, highlighted by a rich orchestrated soundscape, URRANTA is a celebration of the Gaelic singing traditions and an expression of their influences across musical worlds.
This album is a triumphant homage to the composers of its songs who spoke out boldly in reaction to war, political struggle, exile, and who championed female empowerment and love. Powerful themes are explored on this emotional journey; there is poignancy and heartbreak in tracks such as Seinneam Cliùnam Fear Ùr and Iain Ghlinn’ Cuaich , as well as fervour and fire in Moch an-Diugh a Rinn Mi Èirigh and in Mairead nan Cuiread . The serene voice of the faeries in Uamh an Òir brings the album to an ethereal
The sound of URRANTA is enriched by a string quartet arranged by Seonaid Aitken. Elevating the songs from their traditional beginnings into a contemporary genre, the strings weave together elements of classical and film music to create an expansive tone across all ten tracks. These bold arrangements are beautifully emphasised by the musicianship of a number of esteemed Scottish artists.
Recorded at Gran’s House Studio in Lamington, this album teamed Deirdre with producer and musician Angus Lyon (Blazin’ Fiddles). It also features the talents of prolific musicians Seonaid Aitken (BBC Jazz Nights) , Kristan Harvey (Blazin’ Fiddles) , Patsy Reid, Alice Allen, James Lindsay (Breabach), and Ruairidh Graham (Niteworks), all of whom bring an energy and passion to the music that is evident on each track throughout the rise and fall of the album’s story.
Raised on the Isle of Skye, Deirdre enjoyed a childhood immersed in Gaelic music, language, and culture. She was hugely influenced by the Fèis movement, and later attended the National Centre of Excellence for Traditional Music in Plockton, before attending the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD).
After graduating Deirdre was given the opportunity to live and work as a teacher abroad: first in China, then in Spain and Malaysia. These international experiences were a chance to explore different musical cultures, as well as different styles of musical performance. In particular, her time as a teacher in Malaysia developed her appreciation for classical music, an appreciation which has informed the style of her album. Her time away also helped reinforce a deep love for the Gaelic singing traditions connecting her to home, which refined and strengthened the desire to express the stories of her culture through song.
Now, fifteen years after graduating from the RCS, Deirdre is expressing her wealth of musical experience and passion through URRANTA. It is a confident debut release that reflects her lifelong love for the spirit of community and collaboration in traditional music, and one that takes a daring new brush to the landscape of Gaelic singing.
The album artwork is by Deirdre’s mother Kirsteen Graham, who is also a Gaelic singer on the Isle of Skye, and who taught Deirdre her first traditional songs.
Tracks On URRANTA
01 Seinneam Cliù nam Fear Ùr
02 ’S Gann Gun Dìrich Mi Chaoidh
03 Moch an-Diugh a Rinn Mi Èirigh
04 Dòmhnall nan Dòmhnall
05 Òran Mòr Scoirebreac
06 Tha Mi Sgìth ‘n Fhògar Seo
07 Iain Ghlinn’ Cuaich
08 Air Fàir an Là
09 Mairead nan Cuiread
10 Uamh an Òir