herald

Monday 1 September 2014

solo Meav's aiming at romantic purity

Meav The Calling (Warner Music)

You can seat about 45

people on the upper deck of a Dublin bus. I say this, trying to get some perspective on the 23 million people who've attended Riverdance concerts. Or the two billion-plus who have watched the Irish dance spectacle on television.

Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, from Donnybrook, put her law degree in her pocket and consolidated a career as a musician when she performed in the US premiere of that all-singing, all-dancing phenomenon.

stellar

As a member of Anuna, she toured the world. And with the RTE Concert Orchestra. And she's gigged as a founding member of the popular Celtic Woman extravaganza.

Now, as a solo recording artist, she's embarked on the most exciting development on her stellar CV. She's teamed up with Grammy award-winning producer Craig Leon for this new 12-track album.

And, while they don't set out to reinvent the wheel, the pair have come up with a collection that successfully bridges the divide between Hayley Westenra and Enya.

It's a crowded marketplace – the interface between folk, classical and Old Timey.

New York fiddle-player, singer and dancer Siobhan Smith, who toured with Gaelforce Dance, has a stonkin' new rootsy album, Timing is Everything, recorded by Trevor Hutchinson of the Waterboys, out next week.

Meav's approach to what one might term the Great Folk Songbook is to go straight for the romantic purity at the core of a song.

brave

Ewan McColl's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is given a cloistered, hymnal dimension. As the album opener it's a brave declaration. But it's on the unlikely old spiritual Wayfaring Stranger that Leon's assured atmospherics create a shoe-in for a Sergio Leone epic. The producer's interest in anthropology lends a medieval mysticism to the Roud ballad Sovay.

WB Yeats was tone deaf. Yet his Song of Wandering Aengus has provided ammunition for numerous artists. Meav and Craig create an ethereal new setting and call it Glimmering Girl. Embracing a pan-Celtic template, the duo embrace a Galician melody for the title song. Delightful. HHHII

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