Monday, February 23, 2009

Just Listen. . .

Note: This past week or so, I have been experimenting with different technological features for the blog; my favorite so far is "scheduled publishing" where I can write something on Friday (as I am) and have it appear in public on Monday (as it will when you read it).

MySpace is a neat idea, but I'll come right out and say it makes me kind of nervous what with all the inexcuseable junk that gets written on people's walls for all the world to see. . .With that caveat, here is a MySpace page I can't get enough of. It belongs to the group Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid. This is just some good, basic Gaelic music. I don't know where in the world anybody got the ambitious idea of putting five singers in one band, but that is what the "Seòid" contingent is; five Gaelic singers--all men (actually, there are seven; two specialize in the instrumental side of things). Mary Ann Kennedy's lovely voice alone would be enough to recommend the album, as you might gather from the first song, but for me the real draw is such a grouping of male vocalists, fairly rare in Gaelic singing (at least that I have been able to find this side of the Pond) these days. Not many frills--indeed, two of the four pieces on the page are a capella; I guess you might call it meat-and-potatoes music; solid, appealing and satisfying.
  • Alison Krauss fans might recognize the first song: "Sios Dhan an Abhainn". . .that is indeed the American gospel tune, "Down to the River."
  • The second song "Na Seòid" has a surprise--a single line in English that will sound familiar if you've ever seen "Master and Commander". I have no idea what most of the Gaelic is saying, except that I think "Na Seòid" means "the heroes". I don't know who the lead singer is here, but I would not object to hearing him sing some more.
  • The third song, or rather, set, "Bodach Innse Cro," is puirt-à-beul or "mouth music," verses of nonsense words that facilitate the singing of a tune, usually a dance-style piece. Sometimes the snap of the words are very evocative of piping embellishments.
  • The fourth song: again, I am not the one to ask if you want to know what it is about, but I do know that it's James Graham singing lead. 'Nuff said.

If you like what you hear, you can get a pretty generous sampling of the whole CD at CD Baby. Indeed, you can buy the CD there while you're at it. Another source, for the CD is Footstompin' Records in Scotland; although they're overseas, they ship impossibly quickly, their prices are fairly competitive, and, of course, there are a few other similar CD's to choose from, just in case you want to give into the temptation of making a shipment from Scotland "worth it." F'r instance, you can get James Graham's solo CD's there. . .

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