Review by Graham Blackley
This generous collection of entrancing songs by Australian singer, harpist and pianist Cathie O’Sullivan is fast becoming one of my musical highlights of 2015. The songs featured on this compilation come from her albums High Places, Summerhaze and Sweetheart. I have to admit to being stunned that I have never come across this skilled artist’s work until now. The fact that O’Sullivan has in recent years been better known as Dr Catherine Summerhayes, senior lecturer in Film & New Media Studies at the Australian National University, perhaps explains her mysterious absence from my record collection. Discovering O’Sullivan feels a lot like striking gold as she and her accomplished accompanists weave an intriguing folk-infused yet eclectic sound that blends the traditional with the progressive and regularly features unexpected twists and turns that excite, challenge and tantalise the unsuspecting listener. For example, after delivering an angelic and poignant rendition of Foggy Dew O’Sullivan and band roll out the decidedly jazzy and left-field Rain which features a truly explosive instrumental sequence that sonically captures the power and intensity of an emotional maelstrom. Listening to this track is like reading great literature: you can’t help but feel enriched and moved by the experience. If you appreciate musicians who use folk music as a basis for innovation, exploration and inspiration then Silly Winds will quickly become essential listening.