Review of Port Bàn

Marram Music MARCD06 
Port Bàn, the sixth solo album from Scottish singer and harpist Maggie, is dedicated to her late mother, the widely acclaimed singer Flora MacNeil, who passed away close on five years ago and whom Maggie has always regarded as her main musical inspiration. The new album is well titled: literally, “fair port” and “fair tune”, also the name of the bay beside her family’s house on Barra, a place of plentiful happy memories. Its recording was a real labour of love for Maggie, since a majority of the Gaelic songs on the disc come from her mother’s repertoire. It’s a considerable tribute to Maggie’s skill as a singer and interpreter, and her own deep respect for the songs, that she has put her own stamp on songs which Flora was especially noted for singing (from as long as six decades ago), such as Gràdh Geal Mo Chridh (a version of the Eriskay Love Lilt) and the praise poem O Craobh Nan Ùbhal. The family connection is further strengthened with the participation of Maggie’s two sons Calum and Ruaraidh, who are joined by Brian McAlpine, Anna Massie, Chris Waite and album producer Angus Lyon, accompanying Maggie’s poised singing (and occasional harp playing) with commendable sensitivity on (variously) guitar, fiddle, bodhrán, piano and accordion. In addition to Maggie’s passionate reinterpretation of the Gaelic material, which also includes some typically animated mouth music and waulking songs, she treats us to two of her favourite Burns songs (The Bonny Lass Of Albany and The Highland Widow’s Lament). A particularly fine collection.

BY David Kidman This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine

New album, Port Bàn, is here! See below.

The new album “Port Bàn” was officially released on 22nd January. You can get it here now! – Port Bàn 

Video for the first track below…

The name “Port Bàn” has the double meaning of Fair Port or Fair Tune and is the name of the little bay beside Maggie’s family house on Barra. The house is full of the happiest of memories of family fun and music.