Folkworld Reviews Seinn

A Cape Breton singer and fiddler duo could be either totally traditional or coolly contemporary. This pair manage both. Mary Jane Lamond is one of the few singers I listen to: she combines a deep understanding of Gaelic song with an energetic and innovative approach which is rare enough even in Canada. She also has a glorious voice, of course. Wendy MacIsaac impressed me with her debut album, fiery and full of celtic spirit: over the years since she has mellowed somewhat, losing the electric guitars and drums, but her fiddle can still stir up the proverbial storm in a tea-dance. Together, Mary Jane and Wendy romp through a repertoire which captures both the culture of Cape Breton and the modern music of their generation. They are aided and abetted by singers from Scotland and Ireland, accompanists from all over, and some well known members of the MacIsaac clan.

Reels and strathspeys, mouth music and mournful songs of unrequited love, slow airs and island anthems: this recording spans the full spectrum of Gaelic music. From the beautiful pure voices on “Rinn Mi Còrr” is Naoi Mile to the musical melting pot of celtic and country “If You Were Mine”, Lamond and MacIsaac weave their way confidently through Scottish and Canadian influences. It’s tasteful, it’s tuneful, and it’s also a tantalising glimpse into the evolutionary process which is reinventing celtic music in maritime Canada. Seinn delivers both a faithful representation of Nova Scotian traditions and a new interpretation of that cherished heritage. Take “Keeping Up with Calum”, a hornpipe or clog dance composed by Wendy in traditional style, kicked firmly into folk-funk territory by her penchant for guitar, bass and drums. Or there’s “Hoireann O Rathill iù O”, a Gaelic song dressed for a night on the town, hot enough to make the mountain mist sizzle. There’s plenty more here, songs and instrumentals in equal parts from Lamond and MacIsaac, but you should really hear it for yourself: there are samples at the mailorder sites linked by Wendy and Mary Jane

by Alex Monaghan, Folkword