The Scotsman

Manx Gaelic, currently in a precarious state, tends to be overshadowed by its Irish Sea neighbours Alba and Éire. This fine debut album by the duo of Manx singer and cultural champion Ruth Keggin and Scots harpist Rachel Hair delivers a bright counterblast, justifying its title, which means light or flame. Right from the opening Christmas lullabies, Keggin’s singing is clear and poised over Hair’s harp, which carries the songs and intertwines with them, a fine balance maintained throughout-take Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey, for instance, recounting a winter tragedy. Hair solos with a still, crystalline Manx air, while Keggin’s ability to tell a song with great clarity shines in her unaccompanied, if brief Arrane Saveenagh. Guests include fiddler Isla Callister on three tracks, while Adam Rhodes and Adam Brown add bouzouki and bodhrán to a trio of Manx drinking songs. ****

Jim Gilchrist