Album review: HANNAH RARITY – To Have You Near

hannah rarity to have you near [Release date 03.06.22]

Three years on from her debut album, ’Neath the Gloaming Star’, Scottish singer songwriter Hannah Rarity releases the follow-up. Hannah won BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2018, along with touring with the likes of Blazin’ Fiddles, RURA and Niteworks.

Joining Hannah on the album are John Lowrie (keys), Scott Mackay (drums, percussion) and James Lindsey (bass, double bass), Innes White (acoustic guitar) plus a string section headed by violinist Seonaid Aitken.

‘I’m Not Going Anywhere’ was penned by Boo Hewerdine (he adds backing vocals too), who is a much in demand songwriter as well as long-time collaborator with Eddi Reader. A song and performance that is simply breathtaking. Not far behind is Hannah’s interpretation of Tom Waits’ ‘Take It With Me’. Less is more on this one with piano and strings giving support to the vocals, but never distracting from them.

The pandemic is covered on ‘My Friend’, a big production number complete with piano, strings, nifty jazz/swing drum beat and a choral backing. Elsewhere, the pop feel of ‘Home’ sits well with the more traditional fare of ‘Scotland Yet’, where she reveals more of her natural accent in her singing to superb effect.

‘To Have You Near’ not only furthers the deserving praise heaped upon Hannah Rarity, but sees her spread her musical wings into pop, blues and jazz, all with pleasing results. One of the finest vocal led albums you’ll hear this year. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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