Darcy Nair,
I Feel My Heart Fly
(self-produced, 1999)

I got my first impressions of Darcy Nair as a member of the Pyrates Royale -- but I won't hold that against her. On I Feel My Heart Fly, she proves that she's a fine musician even when she's not dressed in pirate clothes and making random "aargh" sounds.

Nair gets plenty of help from her friends on this recording, but the focus is always on her voice and her multi-instrumental skills. The album begins with "Rise Up and Dress Yourself/Sixth of May," featuring the clear, bell-like tones of her hammered dulcimer, accompanied by guitar. Then she switches moods for a vocal duet on "Fiddler's Hymn," expressing the joy one finds in music (although Nair herself is not a fiddler) with an almost madrigal sound. "Carolan's Cup" takes us back to the dulcimer and guitar, now joined by whistle and flute.

"Waves on the Sea" is a lively, traditional nautical song from the point of view of a survivor on shore. "St. Basil's Hymn" is a Greek Orthodox carol for solo dulcimer that boasts an intricate, baroque-sounding style. By now, you've probably caught on to the variety in Nair's selections; you never get the feeling that you're hearing the same stuff over and over again.

Highlights on the remainder of the album include the mournful love song "Arise Arise," the dulcimer and wooden flute duet on "The Sunset," the dulcimer and dumbek duet on "Eight and Forty Sisters" and the lively medley that closes the album. Nair demonstrates her very lovely voice to best effect on beautiful arrangements of "Loch Tay Boat Song," "Lagan Love" and "Chi Mi Na Morbheanna," a Gaelic version of "Mist Covered Mountains."

Dulcimer fans in particular should want this one, but anyone who enjoys Celtic music with a delicate touch should try it out.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 28 February 2004