Metta magic – reviewing the reviews

R2 magazine review

Back in June, ‘Damian Helliwell’s Metta’ released their debut album. We received a huge amount of support from the Scottish music press, with inspiring reviews in the Scotsman & Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald, Living Tradition and more. Songlines (the magazine that all musicians hope to do well in!) said Metta is “beautifully produced, sharp, accomplished…promises to be an intriguing new act to keep an eye on”, and Folkwords described it as “totally engaging…wholly consuming, verging on addictive”. The Telegraph chose the album as one of the “Top Ten Folk Albums” of 2014, stating that it is “infectiously joyous…an absolute treat of harmony and creativity”. But my favourite review was from a very insightful Dai Jeffries, of R2 who, it seems, really ‘gets’ what we were trying to create, and knows a bit about the role of the backline!

“You’ll know Damian Helliwell from Daimh, a band from the remoter reaches of Scotland – this album was recorded on the Isle of Eigg, accessible only by ferry from Mallaig. The Metta project is, as Damian says, the culmination of several years’ writing and a lifetime of playing.

I draw your attention to the location because the music reflects the beauty of the Hebrides, as observed by someone who knows the Isles and loves them. Put from your mind images of grey skies and sleeting rain, and see the land in sunshine with the light glittering off the sea, and that’s what you’ll hear. The first track ‘Tadhghan Steps’ sets the pattern. The music dances and laughs with a theme that sounds traditional and then slips into a more contemporary style. ‘Phi’ picks up on that, and so it goes.

Alongside Damian is Andy Thorburn, whose piano is the bedrock of the sound, alongside Jenny Hill’s double bass and Donald Hay’s percussion, whilst sharing the melody lines with Damian’s mandolin and banjo is Eilidh Shaw’s fiddle. Although Damian wrote all of the pieces, the arrangements are a collaborative effort with Andy and Jenny taking much of the credit for an excellent album”.

R2 magazine, Summer 2014

Hear the album, for those with impeccable taste, buy a copy here