Link to Living Tradition Homepage

REVIEW FROM www.livingtradition.co.uk

 


 

 

 
Sleeve not available
MARY JANE LAMOND "Suas E!" Debutante 2688420002

Instrumentalists, with their high energy, infectious, 'hurdy gurdy' rhythms and dogfights between instruments, have been at the forefront of the recent wave of Cape Breton music sweeping across the world. Mary Jane Lamond has changed that. Cape Breton now has a 'voice' to rival Karen Matheson and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, its arrival on the international scene is now complete. The universal appeal of a sweet voice will ensure that Mary Jane's music breaches the ears that the driving fiddles and bouncing piano just can't penetrate.

"Bho Thir nan Craobh" Mary Jane's first CD was one of the surprise packages of last year. Relying mainly on her delicious voice and very sparse accompaniment, the CD charmed all those who heard it. "Suas E!" sees Mary Jane move on musically to richer, more experimental arrangements which swirl around her voice like workers around a queen bee; energetic, some times frenetic, but always reverential. Mary Jane will often begin the song in a relatively simple style with the instruments arriving in stages giving a layered textured feel to the recording. With drums, bass and electric guitars being the dominant accompanying sounds the recording does have a kind of 'World' feel to it, although Mary Jane keeps the sound firmly rooted in Cape Breton.

Mary Jane meets head-on, the problem of taking traditional material and giving it a contemporary feel without losing the essence of the original. Walking the thinest of tightropes with the surefootedness of a seasoned circus performer she may have the occasional wobble (using friends as backing singers is OK IF they can sing) but has produced arrangements which are polished and accomplished. Ashley McIsaac keeps his wilder excesses under control to provide tantalising cameos. The great highland bagpipe (played by Scott Long and Paul MacNeil) makes its presence known in this recording, without ever threatening to dominate (an object lesson in how to integrate the pipes with other instruments and voices), and reaches its climax on "Tha Mo Run air a Ghille" with a thundering bodhran and pipe crescendo. Other sounds sneek in to give the listener a sense of participation in the merryment - Spinning Wheels, the inevitable step dancers, and even the creak of the loom.

This album sees Mary Jane become a major player in the world 'Celtic' scene. It is certainly commercial enough to reach the masses yet it retains an earthiness which should enthuse even the most blinkered traditionalist. Not only does this lady have a superb voice but she knows how to use it, usually enough to bring acclaim. She also produces good music and that is our added bonus.

Chris MacKenzie

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.