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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Contemporary Edinburgh Folk Duo Dowally, To Release New Album

Contemporary Edinburgh folk duo Dowally will release their exciting, eclectic new album early bird // night owl on Friday, 19 February 2021.

Dowally is Dan Abrahams (guitar, harmonium, piano, Rhodes, vocals and double bass) and Rachel Walker (fiddle and vocals). The pair have been playing together for more than five years, having first cut their teeth on Edinburgh’s lively folk session pub circuit before forming half of the transatlantic group, Wayward Jane.

As a duo, Dan and Rachel have set about creating original folk music which draws on world music influences, jazz harmony and Balkan rhythms.

This chocolate box of influences can be heard through the catchy melodies and addictive rhythms of early bird // night owl, all underpinned by Dan’s driving guitar and Rachel’s swinging fiddle. The result is an interesting, progressive folk record made with heart and soul.

The album swings between the joyful and the gripping. The lively Dance of the Swan, written by Rachel during lockdown, captures the tension of a stand-off, while the calming lullaby Sleep, written by Dan, transports listeners to a dream-like state.

Elsewhere, Rachel’s hypnotic vocals and fiddle-playing come to the fore in Three Little Babes. Dowally arranged the traditional Appalachian song with original instrumentation which sees the song grow more elaborate and dramatic as it charts the folk tale’s progression into darkness.

The album’s title is inspired by the pair’s differing body clocks – Rachel the night owl can often be found playing fiddle into the wee hours, while Dan – the early bird – wakes up at the crack of dawn, full of musical ideas. Happily, these mismatched waking hours equate to a wonderful musical partnership.

While making the album, Dowally discovered the magic of the studio, as Dan explains: “We left a lot more of the arranging to the studio on this album and used this time to get really creative. We gradually added layers to the tracks to build up the soundscape and allowed ourselves to be reactive and in-the-moment. We kept each other on our toes and we hope this is reflected in the listener’s experience.”

Recorded by Graeme Young at Chamber Studio in Edinburgh and mixed by Mattie Foulds of Caribou Recording, the album also features guest musicians Graham Coe (The Jellyman's Daughter) on cello, mandolin, vocals, Michael Starkey (Wayward Jane) on banjo and vocals and Phil Alexander (Moishe's Bagel, Eliza Carthy) on accordion.

The follow-up to their 2018 release Somewhere, early bird // night owl features compositions and arrangements created over the last two years, reflecting the pair’s musical growth.

Rachel said: “As each year passes, our sound collects new influences and reflects new passions. This new record captures our development as musicians. We were able to make the most of the rich moments of peace and reflection which came as a silver lining with lockdown, and the result is an album that’s more sonically complex – and something we are delighted to share.”

early bird // night owl will be available to buy on CD and download from Bandcamp, and to download and stream on other platforms on Friday, 19 February 2021.


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