Celtic Life Magazine
By: John Ferguson
Rachel Davis is a young fiddler from Baddeck, Cape Breton her self-titled CD is her recording debut. She was the recipient of the Festival Volunteer Drive ‘er Award and this CD was released at the 2009 Celtic Colours Festival.
Rachel plays with a maturity tha belies her age and gives us twelve cuts of great music in the Cape Breton tradition. Many Cape Breton composers, past and present, are represented as are some of Scotland’s classic tunesmiths such as Marshall, Gow, Walker and Skinner. A few Irish tunes are intermingled and Rachel has included her own “Long’s Barbershop Strathspey”. Rachel’s tone and note control stand out as she moves from tune to tune on a beautiful sounding fiddle built by Clay Carmichael of Tarbot, Victoria Co. Her medleys are well constructed with a good mixture of contemporary and traditional tunes. On the eighth cut Rachel plays a jig medley with her grandfather, Clarence Long, her first teacher and mentor in the wide-reaching scope of Cape Breton fiddle. The last track has St. Peters fiddler Meagan Burke joining Rachel for a “live in studio” set. This is a great march, strathspey and reels medley and a fitting way to end a recording.
A very pleasant surprise was to hear Rachel singing a traditional Gaelic song, Dh’ falbh mo run ‘s dh’fhag e’n cala. This song has a beautiful melody and Rachel sings it in a clear, expressive voice. A great job indeed.
This CD is a Lakewind Studio production with Mike Shepherd as engineer and co-producer with Rachel. Able studio musicians include Tracey Dares-MacNeil and Joey Beaton on piano, Buddy MacDonald on guitar, Brona Graham on banjo and Meagan Burke and Clarence Long on fiddle. A fine debut from a talented young musician with years of promise ahead of her.
“Canada continues to produce some outstanding female fiddle players…”
By: Vic Smith
Rachel is still a student at Cape Breton University studying for her degree in Celtic Studies, but she is already a very assured and accomplished fiddler in the Cape Breton style, interpreting its range of melodies and rhythms with her pleasing dry-toned playing.
She usually plays to that rollicking piano that characterises Cape Breton fiddle accompaniments, but there’s also guitar, banjo, and bouzouki used sparingly. There are also a number of fiddle duets and it is particularly apt that she plays one track with her inspirational first fiddle teacher who is also her grandfather. She includes one song sung in Gaelic – singing is also part of her degree course – and on this evidence, her singing reaches the same high standard as her fiddle playing. In fact, to have included more singing may have given the album a wider appeal, but there is time. This debut shows that it is by an emerging major talent.