Cathie Ryan

Cathie Ryan’s lilting soprano is a cooling breeze across your forehead on a warm August day. On the Detroit native’s fourth album since her Cherish the Ladies days, the Scottish melodic feel abounds, augmented by Scottish players John McCusker, Iain McDonald and Phil Cunningham. Ryan’s song “Rathlin Island,” about the 1847 famine, and Rick Kemp’s “Somewhere Along the Road,” with terrific support vocals from Kate Rusby, seem as eternal as a stone circle. Ryan’s spirited “Grace O’Malley” stirs respect for the Irish pirate queen who stared down Queen Elizabeth. Three ancient songs sung in Gaelic get first-rate contemporary arrangements. “Music is blood memory,” which Ryan sings in “In My Tribe,” capturing a recent experience in Monument Valley, also sums up the album’s theme. Recorded in Yorkshire last year, this is Ryan’s quietest album. Thoroughly steeped in history and place, it’s also her finest.