SHE’S performed at Ullapool’s Best Little Fest in the West music festival Loopallu before – but this weekend Rachel Sermanni stepped on stage to celebrate the launch of her debut album ‘Under Mountains’.
Highland born Rachel is no stranger to the Western Isles, having performed in Stornoway, Lewis, a number of times over the last few years. She has already toured with and supported the likes of Mumford & Sons, Michael Kiwanuka, Elvis Costello, John Grant, KT Tunstall, Newton Faulkner and Ron Sexsmith.
And her stop-off at the Loopallu festival came a midst a 70plus date European headline tour, which takes in 20 dates in the UK, including London’s Bush Hall (September 26th) and a show at the UK’s highest venue, The Ptarmigan on Cairngorm (October 13th).
For those familiar with the Sermanni songstress, the release of ‘Under Mountains’ ends a long wait, and those listening for the first time will discover a music that instantly piques the interest to hear some more.
Like a carpenter whittles away at his craft, Rachel gives herself up to her music, sculpting bare lyric bones from nature and adding multi-instrumentalist flesh to each song little by little.
Produced by Ian Gimble and born from a profound understanding of the world, Rachel’s debut is classic singer/songwriting as she carves her own niche with the kind of tough, witty, observational outpourings which borrow from the troubadour tradition.
From poetic opener ‘Breathe Easy’ – with earthy, bass-y clout – to standout track ‘The Fog, an introspective number haunted by strings and propelled by percussion; other highlight tracks include the fairytale-esque ‘Sea Oh Sea’, acoustic lullaby ‘Sleep’, and the intoxicating ‘Black Currents’, the title track from her debut EP which launched her onto the scene earlier this year.
Comfortable as a solo performer, Rachel works equally well in a crowd and is joined on ‘Under Mountains’ be a hand-selected group of rising musicians – ladies Jennifer Austin (piano,backing vocals), Siobhan Anderson (fiddle, backing vocals), Louise Bichan (fiddle, backing vocals), and Laura Wilkie (fiddle, backing vocals); and gentlemen Leo Forde (guitar) and Admiral Fallow boys Joe Rattray (double bass), Louis Abbott (percussion, backing vocals) and Phil Hague (percussion).
The result of the youthful collaboration is an album that is quintessentially Sermanni – but with oomph.
From the beautiful soulful ‘Little Prayer’, the soft, lilting flow of track ‘Eggshells’, to the rousing finale of ‘To A Fox’, the album ‘Under Mountains’ by Rachel Sermanni is a triumphant debut and a twinkling little gem of a record.
The track ‘Waltz’ from ‘Under Mountains’ – which features vocals of Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott – has been chosen as i-Tunes Single of the Week and is now free to download, only for this week, at www.itunes.apple.com
And take a look at the official ‘Waltz’ video, Rachel’s own take on Alice in Wonderland and made by Lorn MacDonald, now available on You Tube (www.youtube.com, search Rachel Sermanni – Waltz).