Friday, May 22, 2009

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 Scottish 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 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 who contribute 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
>Songs for an Easter weekend
now playing: eist: songs in their native language
Dual: Julie Fowlis & Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
at Journey to Scotland Outlander and the Skye Boat Song

update in 2014 -- perhaps you"ve come this way by of Outlander: Gillebride MacMillan appears (and sings) as the bard Gwyllyn in the television series being made from Diana Gabaldon's books. Check out his lead and harmony singing with Na Seoid and on these excellent solo and collabrative albums (click the cover images for more information)

Back in 2009 when this was first published, it was good to know that: Music Road was recently noted as ‘one of the things we like reading’ in the newsletter of Poetry Ireland. Thanks! Go raibh maith agat!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Kerry Dexter at


Anonymous Dr. Jessie Voigts said...

FANTASTIC! thanks so much for sharing this, kerry!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I wish I had a musical ear like you. Unfortunately, I don't think I listen to music enough. Maybe I visit you here more often!


10:56 AM  
Blogger Kerry Dexter said...

thank you. glad you enjoyed.

I hope you will come back often. most of the posts have links to places where you may hear snippets of the music, or video clips of the musicians in them for you to listen to.

thanks for you thoughtful and interesting blog too. over here at music road you might do a tag serach on creative practice sometime, I think you'd like some of those posts especially.

10:54 AM  
Blogger About the book said...

This music sounds really heartfelt and wonderful.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I'll do the search you suggest. I love your posts. They inspire to me look in places I wouldn't think of on my own.

Thanks for visiting my blog. It pretty much represents my passion to help others live the life they deserve, that is, with awareness. I think music can aid in that.


8:49 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home