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Raylene Rankin releases Lambs in Spring

October 15, 2003 - Inverness Oran
By Frank MacDonald

Raylene Rankin released her first solo album on Thursday evening at Strathspey Place to thunderous applause for the popular singer.

Choosing as her opening number the David Francey song, Highwire, the Mabou vocalist struck out on her own, introducing the audience to the songs from her recording, a record that didn't turn out to what she planned it to be.  Originally conceived as a collection of traditional recordings, Raylene discovered, "I'm not a traditional singer."

Instead, Lambs in Spring took a different direction, its tone and texture evident in the title selection.  Written by her late brother John Morris Rankin, the song was humming itself at the back of Raylene's mind as thoughts of recording her solo CD began to form.  It had been a song rehearsed by The Rankins but never recorded, and Raylene went searching through boxes of tapes.  On the first tape she pulled from the archive was Lambs in Spring.

"It's a song I hold very dear to my heart because it was written by my late brother," she explained, and while it was intended to be one song among a collection of twelve, as the singer began to sift through and select songs from a variety of sources, a pattern began to emerge.

"There was a recurring theme of innocence and innocence lost," she explained.   In her rendering of the song on Lambs in Spring, a melancholy tenderness runs through the recording, in the title song, clearly, and beautifully conveyed by Rankin in the selection, Singing Bird.  No other song, though, carries the theme of innocence and innocence lost with the intensity of another David Francey number, Flowers of Saskatchewan, a lament for the young men of that province, who, along with so many other courageous Canadians, were sent to their death in the slaughter at Dieppe, an experience, Rankin said, in which Canada learned the price of being a sacrificial lamb.

Innocence and loss of such are not rooted in tragedy and separation, as Raylene demonstrated in several other selections, including her own composition to a traditional air, Alasdair Beag, a song for her five-year-old song, and the Cape Breton Lullaby.   And for something complete different and equally welcome, the audience caught a glimpse of another Raylene with her jazzy offering of a love ballad, Someone Like You.   This is a genre the singer could explore without apology.

While the theme of the recording dominated the concert, Raylene Rankin's presentation of love songs, traditional ballads, Gaelic songs and lullabies, supported by a dream band comprised of pianist Mac Morin, fiddler Mairi Rankin, bass player John Chiasson, guitarist Clarence Deveau and drummer Geoff Arsenault, maintained the upbeat and humour-filled tempp of a truly enjoyable concert.

Lambs in Spring is available at outlets throughout Inverness County.

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