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Album Review

Louise Dodds and Elchin Shirinov: Two Hours After Midnight


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Louise Dodds and Elchin Shirinov: Two Hours After Midnight
Two Hours After Midnight is the first duo release from Scottish jazz vocalist, Louise Dodds, and Azerbaijani pianist, Elchin Shirinov. The album title is inspired by the last letter Mary Queen of Scots wrote just hours before her execution in 1587. It was written to Henry III, King of France and signed "this Wednesday, two hours after midnight."

Dodds has released two previous albums, Fly (Independent, 2013) and her first album of fully original material, The Story Needs an Ending (Independent, 2022). Renowned Azerbaijani pianist, arranger and composer, Elchin Shirinov, was a member of the Avishai Cohen Trio from 2018 to 2022, during which time he recorded three albums. Most notable of which, Shifting Sands (naive/believe, 2022) appeared in many 'Best of' lists for that year. He has also released two albums under his own name.

This recording presents eight traditional Scottish folk tunes, all arranged by Shirinov. There are influences from Azeri music intertwined with Scottish melodies. Four of the tracks are from songs with words attributed to Robert Burns. Considered to be Scotland's national poet, he often wrote in a light Scottish dialect and the lyrics here reflect that mix of Scottish and English.

"Comin' Thro' The Rye" opens the album with Shirinov's piano and Dodds' delivery both fluid and sprightly. "The Loch Tay Boat Song" follows. One of the album highlights, it was written by Harold Boulton who also wrote the well-known "Skye Boat Song." Dodd's distinctive voice warmly conveys the unrequited love that is the subject of the song. Shirinov has a haunting solo with hints of the Azeri influence.

Burns' most recorded love song, "Ae Fond Kiss" follows, with Dodds' warm vocal faultless above Shirinov's bittersweet piano arrangement. "Ye Banks and Braes," another Burns song, features a delicate Shirinov solo while Dodds bends her voice in and out of the melody line to communicate the story. The duo gives Charles Gray's, "Oh True Love is a Bonnie Flower," a poignant and tender setting.

"Lass o'Gowrie" was written by Lady Carolina Nairne. Her poetry was well known in her lifetime, but it was all published under the pseudonym of Carolina Oliphant. Some of her songs were even mistaken for Burns' work. The duo wanted to include a female composer on the album. The ballad is driven by a light piano pulse under appealing story-telling from Dodds.

With traditional songs there are often many versions across numerous cultures, an example of this is the "Night Visiting Song." Versions of this vary between the tender and the bawdy. The version here is a tender treatment, with Dodds again in fine story-telling form. The album closes with Burn's best-known song, "Auld Lang Syne." The familiar tune is transformed from the Hogmanay celebration to a moving song with cascading piano and engaging vocal phrasing.

This gentle and charming album of re-imagined folk songs of love and heartbreak is made special by Dodds' warm and engaging vocal performance. In addition to Shirinov's absorbing piano work, his arrangements often feature unusual melodic resolutions that are perfect for the material. Not quite jazz, not quite folk but quite impressive.

Track Listing

Comin' Thro' The Rye; Loch Tay Boat Song; Ae Fond Kiss; Ye Banks and Braes; Oh True Love is a Bonnie Flower; Lass o' Gowrie; Night Visiting Song; Auld Lang Syne.


Louise Dodds: voice / vocals; Elchin Shirinov: piano.

Album information

Title: Two Hours After Midnight | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Loch Tay Records

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