Monday, August 13, 2012

from Ireland: tunes new and old from Caitlin Nic Gabhann

Caitlin Nic Gabhann grew up a house filled with music in County Meath in Ireland. In her album called Caitlin, you’ll hear the wisdom of tradition, compositions which take tradition onward, and the rhythm of the dance as well.

Nic Gabhann’s instrument is the concertina. The music she’s chosen for the fifteen sets on her debut album as a solo artist show that she well knows how to tell stories through melody, from the opening set which opens with a Galway tune, The Rookery, through to a version of The Flying Column which she learned from her father, fiddler caitlin nic gabhann irealndAntoin Mac Gabhann which forms a set with two session tune favorites, The Eel in the Sink and The Shallow Reel. There’s a set of hornpipes, and a set of reels which begins with her own tune Elevated, which, she explains, was written while she was stuck in an elevator in Brisbane in Australia and trying to keep her calm. Nic Gabhann’s own tunes -- there are six of them on the album -- are standout tracks. The reels, waltzes, and the air of her own she offers make clear that she well knows how to create stories through music, along with having a deft hand for interpreting those others have made.

Though Caitlin is her first solo album, Nic Gabhann is no stranger to the stage or the recording studio. Her first band performed at L’Orient Interceltique festival in France, and she has toured the world as a dancer with Riverdance. She and her sister Bernadette, with accordion player Sean McComiskey of Baltimore and flute player Sean Gavin of Detroit, make up the trans Atlantic band NicGaviskey, who have released the album Home Away from Home.

This collection of tunes finds Nic Gabhann’s concertina front and center, however, and it proves a place well deserved. Caoimhin O’Fearghail offers tasteful accompaniment on guitar, and on several tracks you will hear the sound of Nic Gabhann’s dancing feet, as well. You’ll be well served by playing the whole album through and enjoying the pace of the tunes as they go. Several standout cuts, though, include that set if reels which begins with The Flying Column, the original waltz called Sunday’s Well, another original tune, the air Cill Dheaglain, and a set which begins with The Leeside Sessions and includes both original and traditional reels.

you may also wish to see
learning about Irish music: a bouquet of albums
Melodies and Irish fire: Fidil and Edel Fox
from Scotland: Emily Smith: Traiveller's Joy

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