Wood, Fire & Gold by Kim Robertson
reviewed by Sue Richards
Kim Robertson always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in her recordings, and she has just released a beautiful experiment in her latest one, Wood ,Fire & Gold. Her previous recordings have occasionally involved one or two other instruments, but this one has a large chamber ensemble sound with lush arrangements by Eric Segnitz. The result is very classical and will delight you or, if "traditional" Celtic music is your only gig, will send you out the door. The album notes say, "a ground-breaking musical collage," and it truly is. I found myself fascinated by the arrangements and the way the harp interacts with the orchestra, sometimes in the bare spotlight, then swirling in the river of sound, almost covered over, but surfacing again and again. Kim uses her voice almost as a second instrument, and although there are words, the sound is widened out by the heavy use of reverb and effects.
There has always been a close association between Scotland and France, and Kim renews the alliance with melodies from both countries. Four of the eleven cuts are either Scottish or inspired by Scotland; the others are French, Irish, and original. Kim opens with a lovely rendition of Turlough O'Carolan's "Eleanor Plunkett" which she recorded in the 80's with solo harp, and now fills out with the orchestra. "Anamchara" is an original composition about the Gaelic word for "friend of the soul," surely a name I would use on my next harp. The French songs seem to me to bring out the true Kim Robertson, and she is at her absolute best here. She lived in France as a college student studying harp and seems to have a heartfelt connection with the music.
The traditional songs are atmospheric and soulful; she wrote the music for an old French lullabye, and wrote words and music for a wonderful philosophical song about Found Love. One of the nicest cuts is the nineteenth century American folk hymn, "Wondrous Love," for which she has penned French words. Scottish tunes include her original "Dance of the Lambs," "Crossing the Bridge," and the traditional "Loch Tay Boat Song." I have always admired Kim's ability to create the world around herself in both live performance and on recording. She has brought us a vision of grace and radiance in Wood, Fire & Gold.
Copyright ©1997 Sue Richards
originally published in the Folk Harp Journal and The Kilt and Harp
You may enjoy hearing these selections from Wood, Fire and Gold ...
Wood Fire and Gold is available from
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