With more than a decade of making records and touring around the world behind them—as members of the award-winning group Còig—Rachel Davis and Darren McMullen now have their sights set on something new—Home.

 Recorded with award-winning songwriter, musician, and producer Dave Gunning, Home is Rachel and Darren’s long-imagined, and much-anticipated, duo album. Highlighting the pair’s outstanding musicianship and vocals, Home mixes traditional tunes and songs with original co-writes and signature classics.

 Rachel and Darren are well-established and respected instrumentalists in the traditional music world and their playing on this album certainly lives up to that reputation. But over the years, each has also gained recognition for their vocal abilities, most notably with Rachel receiving a 2020 Canadian Folk Music Award in the Traditional Singer of the Year category for Còig’s fifth album, Ashlar. While Còig’s repertoire always included songs, the focus of the group was really on the tunes. Rachel and Darren wanted to shift that focus for this album and feature their vocals more. They take turns on lead vocals and harmonies throughout the 11-track album, which is split about evenly between songs and instrumentals, and the result is a cohesive collection of music performed by some of the top musicians of our times.

 From the gentle but commanding riff that opens “River and the Road”, written by Scottish songwriting royalty Archie Fisher, to the unexpectedly bouncy breath of fresh air that is Laurence Gowan’s 1993 hit “Dancing on My Own Ground”, to an old standby from their live sets, “We Remember You Well” by their pal, Cape Breton Music Hall of Fame writer Buddy MacDonald, the songs on Home couldn’t be a better fit for Rachel and Darren’s voices and musical sensibilities.

 The pair also wanted to do more songwriting for this album and they hit the jackpot with recording, engineering, and arranging collaborator Dave Gunning and acclaimed singer-songwriter Terra Spencer. Both Gunning and Spencer add harmony vocals to the songs they co-wrote, with Gunning also playing a variety of instruments on the album. Other musical guests include Margie Beaton (piano), Thierry Clouette (bouzouki, foot percussion), and Zakk Cormier (guitar, foot percussion) taking turns on the tunes, and English folk singer Jackie Oates who joins Rachel and Darren on harmony for the lovely Cornish folk song “Sweet Nightingale”, which closes the album.

 Listening to Rachel and Darren, it’s obvious that they’ve been playing together for a while—not just as part of Còig, but also as a duo, as guests on each other’s records, and as part of bigger stage productions and ensembles. There’s an easy way about them, a sense of comfort that comes through in the music, in the mix of their instruments, the blending of their voices, and how the arrangements leave room for each other. They seem to know just when to lay back and when it’s time to “give’er”.

 Rachel and Darren have had the idea of doing a duo project for a long time, since before Còig took off, really. They just couldn’t ever fit it in with the band’s busy schedule and the solo work they were each involved with. But when the world-wide pandemic shut everything down for an unknown period of time, putting everyone’s plans on hold, some members of the band turned to new opportunities and, apart from one-off shows and the annual Christmas tour, Còig basically found itself on hiatus. That was the push that the project needed, as Rachel and Darren found themselves home together, and lots of time to experiment with material. 

 Rachel Davis and Darren McMullen’s debut duo album, Home, is set for release in May 2024 with Archie’s Fisher’s “River and the Road” marked as the first single and video.