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Album Review

Downriver is a gently rolling album, featuring Karen Matheson's resonant vocals on a handful of songs mostly in Gaelic. Everything — the vocals, the songs, and the spare arrangements — works in unison to evoke the quiet river of the album's cover. With their peaceful foundation, songs like "Chi Mi Bhuam" and "Gleann Baile Chaoil" are perfectly suited for quiet moments of reflection or just plain relaxation. Matheson is joined by a number of players, including pianist Donald Shaw (who also produced the album), guitarist James Grant, fiddler Aidan O'Rourke, and, in various places, several background singers, each helping to craft a seamless backdrop behind her vocals. Unless one happens to speak Gaelic, Downriver holds a certain air of mystery, because the lyrics aren't reprinted in the liner notes. The album deviates from this course in two instances with English versions of "I Will Not Wear the Willow" and "Singing in the Dark." This will probably matter little to most listeners, though some may find these deviations distracting to the flow and mystery of the album. Taken as a whole, however, Downriver is a very enjoyable effort that manages to combine the best of the old and new, and it will serve as a fine introduction to Matheson's warm vocals. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 11 February 1963 in Oban, Argyll, Scotland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Capercaillie frontwoman Karen Matheson started performing at an early age. Playing at local village halls in Scotland throughout her youth, she would help start Capercaillie with several high school friends in the mid-80's. The band had a successful career and released several albums throughout the next decades, but in 1997 Matheson decided to try her hand at a solo release. The resulting album, The Dreaming Sea, showcased her vocal range and gave her an opportunity to experiment with her talents....
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Downriver, Karen Matheson
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