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When All Is Still – Rachael McShane & The Cartographers

Jul 23, 2018

How time flies, it is nearly ten years since Rachael released her last solo album No Man’s Fool in 2009. It was an album on which Rachael explored and revelled in her influences, through which she interpreted trad material.

Most people know McShane as part of the behemoth that was Bellowhead. She was integral from the start, not least for being the only one who didn’t wear after shave in the eight times folk award winning mega-group. Since their surprising demise McShane has recently been performing in a new adaptation of The Transports in role of Susannah Holmes.

Bellowhead below, guess which one is Rachael?bellowedWhen All Is Still is long overdue, the way she connected the dots on her first album held an awful lot of promise. Add to that ten years worth of craft, graft and creativity and hitting ‘play’ on this album holds a lot of expectations.

And what a different album it is, the first thing that hits you is how great her voice sounds with this trad material. The misconception that she is just a cellist can never be forgiven again. Here she plays English fiddle with a real flair, but it is her voice that really makes the album so pleasurable.

With her new band doing the recycling:the cartographers

The trio that comprise The Cartographers are McShane plus guitar wizz Matthew Ord and well loved melodeon player Julian Sutton. Consumate musicians with their own distinctive styles. The new sound they have together for this albums warrants a name in its own right (not sure where their map making skills are at however), as they are not just featured musicians. Their combined skill infuses the album with a palpable sense of enjoyment.

When All Is Still is an album of gorgeous English pastoral folk, and a great testament to an artist who deserves the spotlight.

Iain Hazlewood

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