Label: Self Released
Album: Night Sky
Only thirty seconds into the first track of Night Sky, and I was hooked. Her website biography says it all; “Resonant acoustic chamber folk with an otherworldly edge, and a lyrical presence that cuts deep. Prism clear vocals and strings, a combination of vocal agility and power.” A veteran of touring extensively all over Canada, Raine is also a specialist music educator, teaching song writing and fiddle tune writing in English and French, and offers concerts with American Sign Language interpretation to make live music accessible to the deaf.
Her beautiful vocals and the extensive use of strings elevate this album to a niche well above it being simply described as ‘acoustic folk’. A rich and varied musical backing frames her story telling lyrics to perfection. The first track, Starlight, begins with the sound of a soaring voice and the feel of a full string quartet, then “My darling, my darling I can’t let you in, dearly departed are most of my kin……” she begins her story with a wonderful Celtic folk atmosphere. This song is quite superb, and certainly sets the mood for the next nine tracks.
The second song ‘Lift Me Up’ has a bright country folk feel with the voice of a cello enhancing the track. The same cello introduces ‘To the North’ the third track, and again the clear beauty of Raine’s voice is revealed. That voice has been described as ‘ethereal’, and she herself as a ‘prairie songstress’. Lovely descriptions!
A gentle guitar introduces the fifth track ‘Aurora in the Meadow’. “I longed to look…. to the earth the sky, the spaces in between, to see the coming colours of the grass that’s not yet been, I longed to look.” A prairie songstress indeed, and her fine song writing is enhanced by the backing of the full and varied string instrument backing music.
Track 6 is an instrumental titled ‘Everyday’ that allows the string players to show off their skills, followed by the interestingly named ‘For Hildegard (Canon in B Phrygian)’. This is quite special, a carefully crafted acoustic gem. Beginning slowly with music that strongly evokes an almost medieval/Arabian/Celtic atmosphere, and then Raine’s stunning vocals lift it all into another dimension. A track of simply superb all round musicianship.
La Plaine is sung in French, the powerful vocals accompanied by a guitar and drum soundtrack. The final song ‘Bury My Heart’ is a lovely finish to a truly delightful album. Just Raine and her guitar, and joined by some fingerstyle banjo. Night Sky will merit a place in any good music collection, and with her 2018 album release tour soon to begin, here is how her live performance has been described by Stu Anderson of the Prairie Wind Festival “Raine Hamilton delivered an incredibly engaging set of music that connected with a wide audience. Raine has a unique stage presence thanks to a genuine delivery of her songs, plus some quick wit”. Her album and the upcoming tour look set for success.