Kathryn Tickell
& Corrina Hewat,
The Sky Didn't Fall
(Park, 2006)

The Sky Didn't Fall is the inspired, perhaps inevitable expression of the friendship between Kathryn Tickell and Corrina Hewat. The album takes you on a gorgeously feminine journey, where intimate vocal numbers are tastefully interwoven with radiant instrumentals.

For an album featuring just two musicians, the resulting sound is immediate and impressive. The sweet, heady flow of Northumbrian pipes and the lyricism of fiddle are kept wonderfully in check by the reverberant, beautifully supportive notes of Camac electro harp. The chosen music is richly evocative of the Northumbrian and Scottish backgrounds of these two musicians.

The quickening pace of the instrumental "Hawthorn" reveals both musicians at their most nimble-fingered, lyrical and empathic, whilst their playing in "Brig Set" and "The Lads" sparkles and dances. There's a feisty, imaginative rendition of "Brose & Butter," revealing Kathryn's eloquent harmony vocals and allowing Corrina to revel in her love of the same. Burns' "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" gets another airing, Corrina's elegant vocal lending this beautiful song distinction.

The album's undoubted highlight is "Favourite Place." At just under 11 minutes long, it's such an evocative piece of music. Kathryn captured her mother's reminiscences about her Northumbrian childhood on tape, and here she narrates her mother's story in the setting of Corrina's celebratory harp composition "My Favourite Place." Tales of hunt balls, the local doctor's "cure-all" medicine and country practices long gone quiet honestly enchant you. Two tunes, "Cheviot Hills" and "Warksburn Waltz," are quietly worked into the narrative. Beautiful -- and that sums up the whole album.

by Debbie Koritsas
23 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.