on 22 November 2010
Lively and fun first album from new Gaelic girl band - 'T with the Maggies'! Comprising sisters Triona (T) and Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill - long renowned for their innovative work with various Irish Trad groups including Skara Brae, and the Bothy Band. The other two 'Maggies' are Clannad's Moya (Maire) Brennan, and the 'babby' of the group is Mairead Ni Mhaoinaigh of Altan, neither of whom need any introduction.
Each member brings her own distinctive voice, and considerable musical skills to bear. But here it's more of a group sound as their voices blend and harmonize into a whole, though each one sings solo at times. For example Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill sings a lovely song 'Oganaigh Uasail' which interestingly, she adapted from Scots Gaelic to 'Donegal Gaelic'. Moya's voice leads on 'Farewell Farewell' with a touching poignancy... And Mairead Ni Mhaoinaigh sings 'Ceol an Phiobaire', all the more compelling, as it is free from the sometimes overpowering musical accompaniments, heard on some tracks - which can get a bit much - for me at least. This wasn't so evident in their live performances - but I think things are maybe different in studio settings when other performers, their cousins, dogs and cats all join in the fun...! Or maybe it's just that I have an inate preference for longer, slower and quieter songs, and though I really enjoy the faster catchy little numbers, I always go back to the slower - more absorbing ones...
However, Triona's keyboards, Moya's harp, and Mairead's fiddle are all played brilliantly with the ease and professionalism that come from years of work, fun and improvisation.
The CD has eleven songs - (including those mentioned above) 8 as Gaeilge, and 3 in English - a nice mix of older songs - some will be recognisable to Altan and Clannad fans, plus other Traditional fare. Also included are two new songs 'Domhnach na Fola' penned as a response to the recent 'Bloody Sunday' enquiries, and 'Mothers Song' highlighting mothers' feelings of loss as once again, Irish youth are leaving their homeland to find better prospects elsewhere. To conclude - the quartet sing their beautiful 'Mhaighdean Mhara' a moving little tale, and the best rendition I've heard.
I would have liked to see more details of the songs included, as well as lyrics and translations. It's wonderful to hear singers sing in their native tongue, but it would mean even more to understand the context - and what exactly is being said. Also, I really wasn't too sure about the picture on the 'album cover' at first; it seems that deciding on the design of an album cover (which is essentially the 'shop window') causes more angst and difficulty than the material itself! At worst women are made to look like sad old hookers, and the men like disgruntled sociopaths!! It's rare to see a 'natural', attractive looking front cover. This isn't 'natural' but it's eyecatching, colourful - and fun...
All in all - a nice life enhancing first album, which I enjoy listening to. And I look forward to their next - but with more emphasis given to projecting their individual voices, for which they are famed, and a more simplified - toned down - musical accompaniment. Less - really is more sometimes!!