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Heal and Harrow (2022) | Album Review

by Katerina Gort

Rating: 4/5 stars

photo courtesy of Elly Lucas Photography

Musical duo Lauren MacColl and Rachel Newton created Heal & Harrow in response to the current campaigns that seek to pardon and pay tribute to the women killed during the 16th and 17th Century Scottish Witch Trials. Based on specially commissioned work by author Mairi Kidd, the album seeks to humanize the real women executed as witches, as well as embrace the mythology and folk tales that are associated with them. All of the songs on Heal & Harrow are therefore the reimagining of these tales using voice, spoken word and folk inspired music to bring them to life.

Consisting of ten songs, the album flows between past and present, myth and history. Each piece brings a new layer to the idea of the witch, without stripping the others of their potency. The use of the violin and the harp accentuate the magical feel of the album, while the voice and spoken word ground the tales in reality. Furthermore, the episodical structure of the pieces, as each song is based on a different tale, allows for musical experimentation, providing fuller depth than what would have resulted from a more homogeneous approach.

Far from what I have grown accustomed to listen to, Heal & Harrow proves that music can still break away from the norm to create something unexpected and singular. The resulting product is a uniquely mesmerizing experience, almost like a spell being cast, best listened to with headphones and eyes closed, in order to allow the album full power to captivate your imagination.


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