Ever walk down the street and see a strange girl so heart-stoppingly beautiful that you lose your train of thought? Well, sometimes music can have that effect too. I don't speak Gaelic, but Maeve MacKinnon does. What's more, Maeve has a voice that could distil whisky! This is Maeve's first album, and if you have a fondness for crystal clear Scottish folk, you need look no further.
"Mac Iain 'ic Sheumais" ("Son of John, Son of James") tells the tale of the victory of Donald McDonald, who fought in the Battle of Cairnishin 1601. Most anthems of celtic folklore boast an impressive story, true or otherwise, and this is no exception. Likewise, a rendition of "Fiollaigean", a popular ceilidh song, plays nicely.
"The Diver Boy" allows Maeve to dabble in English. Unsurprisingly, her voice loses no pulchritude in translation. The gentle clash of celtic sounds provides a perfect accompaniment to Maeve's voice of red wine and daffodils. Maeve - an English speaker by birth - proves this again on "The Cruel Brother" and Silver Dagger".
"O Mhic a' Mhaoir" is a recognised "waulking song" from the isle of Barra. Waulking is the age-old art of shrinking tweed and making it airtight. There is more to it than can be described in this review and the music itself can do the talking for now. "Fhuair Sinn Im A's A Ghleann Mhor" ("We Got Butter From The Great Glen") is a great example of how foreign language can flatter the most unattractive song titles. Moreover, it is a terrific demonstration of the power of Maeve's voice. A delightful contemporary version of folk standard "The Wild Rover" brings the album to a close.
It comes as no surprise that this album offers little variety beyond the switching between Gaelic and English. Indeed, there's only so much range that can be spared with such a sound without the music curdling like Baileys. What Maeve pulls off is an album of modern sounding celtic sounds, akin to that of Clannad, while being accessible to folk purists. Maeve's voice is the real deal.