If the speaking voice of Edinburgh’s Chloe Mattharu is like music, her singing voice is truly a delight. Her debut album, Next Market Day is released this month, featuring a selection of traditional folk and love songs.
Having grown up with an Indian father and a Welsh mother who sang her way round the house, Chloe’s tastes are eclectic and she has no hesitation in adding her talented voice to a number of famous recording artists, perhaps most notably in the wistfully unaccompanied final track She went to the Fair, popularised by SinÃ©ad O’Connor as the soundtrack of the film Michael Collins.
All of the songs are traditional, except Liz’s Song by Shelagh MacDonald and Come By the Hills by Fury. Other ‘politically motivated’ songs include By yon castle wa’, based on the Burns poem with the final line “There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame,” and sung by a father who has lostÂ seven sons in battle, and Flowers of the Forest, a lament to the deaths of James IV and over 10,000 men at Flodden. The melody is well known as a solo bagpipe version,Â played at services of remembrance and funerals to commemorate war dead of any war, but here Burns’s words and Chloe’s voice provide a moving combination.
The majority of songs, however, like the title song, are tales of men and women in love, or thinking they are in love, and sometimes believing that love will suffice.
In most of these selections, our heroine is not falling for it. In Partans in his creel, from the Orkney Isles, despite Willy’s attractions, the singer decides ” So I think I’d better tarry, Bide a wee afore I marry.”Â In Hares on the Mountain, from the south of England, she decides, “I’ll keep on with my schooling” and in The Bold Gardener , she also sees through a romantic proposal.
Sometimes there is love and happiness, but it rarely lasts, as in The Trees they Grow High, the sad tale of a woman married to a much younger boy, who gives her a child but is then killed in battle.
While the album is skilfully accompanied by Ewan MacPherson on Guitar, Lauren MacColl on Fiddle and Ailig Hunter on Double Bass and Sitar, it is the melodic voice of a new folk talent that shines through. Next Market Day can be purchased from Chloe’s own website or here from Amazon.