A better-late-than-never review / Maeve Mackinnon: Strì (2018)

Strì is a pretty amazing album. And it’s also a great introduction to what the contemporary Celtic folk scene has to offer right now. Maeve Mackinnon assembled not only a brilliant and many-sided set of songs but also a stellar band of players in this music scene.

In my ears, Strì is folk music for the 21st century. It mixes the old song styles to modern sounds and tech in a way that’s truly organic, finding a way to marry an tradition to an eclectic instrumentation combining electric and acoustic instruments. A Rhodes piano, uillean pipes and a sequencer and drums – who would have thought it works…

The songs range from the gently swinging groove of the opening track Iomaraibh Eutrom to the almost chant-like ambience of Róisín Dubh and beat-driven puirt-a-beul of Bodachan a’ Ghàrraidh. The album’s main strength, along with Maeve’s intense and intimate vocals and the superb band, is the way everything fits together, turning the song cycle into a cohesive arc of music.

The one song in English, We’re Not Staying, is a memorable account of a girl’s journey as her family become refugees from an oppressive regime, probably somewhere in South America. It’s different from the other material but somehow fits in and is not a disruption. Producer/bassist Duncan Lyall’s role must be also mentioned in this context.

In all, an exceptional work that will be in my top favorites from now on.

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