Mary Ann Kennedy & Na Seoid
Mary Ann Kennedy & Na Seoid
What you hear, in the twelve tracks on this recording, is the sound of connection, conversation, stories told and shared and passed down, thoughts about the large and small things of life, challenges of work and weather, of love and family. You hear the sound of the sea, too, and the sound of the highlands. That’s as true whether you understand Scots Gaelic or not.
Mary Ann Kennedy had been thinking about how singing in Gaelic seemed to be the province of women in recent years, and she missed the voices of men in Gaelic song that she’d heard as a child. But then, as her work as a musician and a broadcast presenter took her around Scotland, she began to learn of a rising generation of singers who not only sang in Scots Gaelic, but for whom it was a daily language, a circumstance that brought their work in music even more connections. So the idea for Na Seoid was born. Each of the seven men has a different and powerful sound and idea, as might be the case in a conversation around the room, and as in that conversation, they each listen to and support each other. Among them they have many band credits and prizes, as does Kennedy herself, and each plays one or more instruments and sings backing and harmony vocals as well. Kennedy does too, and although she’s by mo means putting herself out front -- the reverse, in fact -- the sound of one woman’s voice along with all the men adds a freshness and depth to each song. Calum Alex MacMillan, from Lewis, is known for his work in the band Daimh and other collaborations. Here he brings the song An Gaidheal ‘sa Leannan, which he learned from his father, and which tells the story of a man far from home missing his love. Norrie MacIver brings the song Mo Chailin Dileas Donn, from Wester Ross. Although the lyrics have nothing to do with it -- it’s the story of a faithful lover -- the melody holds echoes of the Irish and later American song of an unfaithful one, Lily of the West. Kennedy takes lead on a song which may also sound familiar, Sios dhan an Abhainn, which in English is the traditional gospel song Down to the River to Pray, heard in the film O Brother Where Art Thou?
Those three are just a taste of the fine singing, both lead and harmony, and the excellent playing on whistle, guitar, clarsach, and other instruments on every track, Though singing is the focus here, there’s a hidden bonus track, too, which is all instrumental. In addition to MacIver, MacMillan, and Kennedy, musicians include Angus MacPhail, Gillebride MacMillan, Griogair Labhruidh, James Graham, and Tormod MacArthur. Mary Ann Kennedy and Nick Turner produced this rather complex project with skill and thoughtfulness, allowing the individuals and the connections among them space to be heard.
you may also want to see
Music Road: Songs for an Easter weekend
Music Road: now playing: eist: songs in their native language
Music Road: Dual: Julie Fowlis & Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
If you've come our way from A Traveler's Library or through Poetry Ireland, you're very welcome. Hope you'll stay around and explore -- more than three years' of music related posts for you to enjoy.
Saturday and Monday, I will be be doing guest posts over at A Traveler's Library. Host Vera Marie Badertscher usually tells her readers there about books and movies, but she's invited me to let them in on a bit about music. I'll be writing about Scottish music on Saturday, and Irish music on Monday. Come on over and join us.
Also, Music Road was recently noted as ‘one of the things we like reading’ in the newsletter from Poetry Ireland. Thanks! Go raibh maith agat!