Lori Gordon

Bletherings From a Music Obsessed Mind

Tristan Le Govic – “Awen”

If there was one word to describe Awen, Tristan Le Govic’s latest offering, it would be Gentle. In his hands, the Celtic harp laments, dreams and dances its way through this collection of original and traditional music. Included here are slow airs, slides, slip jigs and other tunes from Le Govic’s native Brittany, as well as Ireland, Scotland and even Sweden.

While the jazz-laced tunes “Dans Plin” and “Piz Bihan” show off Tristan’s great technical skill, it’s the gentle, slower pieces that really shine. Here, the true voice and soul of his harp can be heard.

“Le Songe d’Orianne” is the sumptuous lament of a mermaid queen, with layers as deep as the ocean she dwells in.  On another original tune, “Glaz,” the listener is infused with  the soft golden sunlight of the rain-drenched forest that inspired this piece. The album closes with  the traditional “Enez Eusa,” a beautiful tune full of profound longing.

The solo instrument nature of Awen allows the listener to enjoy the breadth of sound the Celtic harp can produce, as well as the intricate nuances. Tristan Le Govic has created a gorgeous tapestry. This album is a “must-have” for Celtic harp fans, as well as those seeking an introduction to the “son Telenn,” the sound of the Breton harp.

To visit Tristan’s website, click here.

To visit his MySpace page, click here.

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December 10, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews, Celtic | , , , , | Leave a comment

Olov Johansson & Catriona McKay – “Foogy”

Olov Johansson Catriona McKay

Olov Johansson and Catriona McKay have teamed up to create an album that is big, bold and bursting with amazing sound. Johansson’s nyckelharpa and McKay’s Scottish harp complement each other perfectly on this thirteen-track collection of primarily original compositions. Fresh, inventive arrangements give both artists the opportunity to show the full character of their instruments.

Though I was impressed with the wonderful melody lines, I was more impressed by the supporting roles each was able to play. It is here that the full range of the instruments can truly be appreciated, from soulful droning to bold, percussive rhythms. Whether playing lead or support, McKay and Johansson’s mastery never lets the listener forget that there are two instruments present.

The opening track “1st Class to Glasgow” is delightfully upbeat and gives a good taste of the overall feel of Foogy. Both artists excel on rapid-fire runs and there are plenty found throughout, especially on “Rain/Ekoln,” “In The Castle,” and “The Foogy Set.” Equally capable at the other end of the spectrum, McKay and Johansson deliver an achingly beautiful performance on “The Harper’s Dismissal.”

Foogy is exciting, contemporary and a definite breath of fresh air. I sincerely hope Johansson and McKay continue to collaborate on future projects.

To learn more about Olov and Catriona, click here.

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May 21, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews, Avant-Garde, Folk, Traditional | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joanne McIver & Christophe Saunière – “Glenfinnan to Glasgow”

mciver and sauniere

I first encountered Joanne McIver and Christophe Saunière a few months ago through their current release, The Three Sisters. Having quite enjoyed that recording, I decided to check out their back catalog, this time settling on Glenfinnan To Glasgow, released in 2006.

Overall, I found this album to have a more traditional sound throughout than their current release, though it is not without a few contemporary nuances, particularly towards the end of the album. Through song and music, Glenfinnan To Glasgow tells stories of those who worked the land and fished the waters. It tells of the darkness of the Highland Clearances and the Blantyre mine disaster. And it tells of the bustle of Glasgow and the dockyards.

The gentle melancholy of Joanne’s voice is the perfect vehicle for this material. She has the ability to pull the listener into the song. The vocal highlights are “The Herring Fishers” and “The Clearances Lullaby.” For as lovely as the singing is, however, it is the instrumental tracks that steal the show. Joanne and Christophe are outstanding musicians and their delivery is exquisite. Nestled amongst the melancholy are driving pipe tunes that give this album an engaging vitality. The standout tracks on this recording are “Blantrye 1877,” “Scottish Inventors” and “The Clydeside Dockyards.”

This album is definitely worthy of a listen. To find out more about Joanne & Christophe and their music, as well as to hear some tracks from this recording, stop by their MySpace page.

You can read a review of their album The Three Sisters here.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Album Reviews, Celtic, Folk | , , , , , , | Leave a comment