Reviews

…This brings to her performance an uncontrived naturalness and at times a raw heartfeltness that is nothing short of captivating.
The trio of Maggie singing and playing clarsach, Brian MacAlpine on keyboards and accordion and Anna Massie on guitar (with or without the wandering capo) generate a subtle yet emphatic pallet of accompaniment, at times sparse, at others gently swinging with lilting syncopations, and then with rapid-fire reeling…”

Peter Urpeth, Highland & Island Arts

“…her singing was such that no translations were necessary…”

“…her voice was haunting and angelic; and her chilling unaccompanied vocal on a Scottish lament earned the show’s longest ovation from the 
sell-out crowd…”

Boston Globe, USA

“…one of the brightest singers of traditional Gaelic music in Scotland.”

A.F.I.M. (Association of Independent Music )

“…a display of singing confidence, background authority and unshowy musicality that bodes well indeed.” 

Rob Adams, Glasgow Herald

“….The finest live performer in Gaelic music today” 

Folk Roots Magazine

“…it also takes a performer of unusual talent to unlock the soul and 
to place there in this music and these poems and Maggie MacInnes 
is certainly one such performer.”

The Living Tradition Magazine

The Seedboat

Colum Sands and Maggie MacInnes

By David Kidman (Freelance Journalist)

Soft-spoken gentle-man Colum’s one of the most captivating and genuine talents on the folk scene, and his latest inspirational and ambitious project is a lovely collaboration with acclaimed singer and clarsach player Maggie (daughter of legendary Barra singer Flora MacNeill). It ostensibly takes its cue from the story of a voyage two centuries ago on the little vessel named The Seedboat, from the Hebridean island of Barra to Newry in Co. Down, by Donald, a young man intending to buy some whiskey for his forthcoming wedding; this (ill-fated) story is recounted in a bittersweet lament composed by his left-behind bride Catriona, which here is heartrendingly sung by Maggie (with help, and some English lyrics, from Colum).

The power of this song, rooted in the heritage of both Scotland and Ireland, also symbolises the continuing richness of the musical dialogue between the two nations, unashamedly rejoicing in the wealth of “shape-shifting” language they share. This piece is the catalyst for an intelligently-crafted sequence of songs and tunes that’s loosely linked by the sea and drawn both from the wellspring of tradition and Colum’s original compositions. It’s both highly imaginative and delightfully stimulating in a wonderfully homespun way, and the two performers dovetail together immaculately, working hand-in-hand like the best-fitting of gloves. Their voices and sensibilities are as naturally and well-matched as the sounding-together of English and Gaelic.

The catchy lilt of Calum’s Boat gives way to one of Colum’s characteristic slices of homespun philosophy The Wave Upon The Shore (which resonates onward to and from the second, The Window Half Open, towards the end of the CD), while some typically puckish light relief is provided by Colum’s irresistible, if slightly tongue-testing I’m A Terrible Man and the vibrant little morris-tune that Colum uses as the basis for Dance Like Billy-o. The emotional temperature is high when Maggie blesses us with her peerless renditions of some wonderful old songs: the unutterably sad Dh’fhlabh Mo Nighean Chruinn Donn (My Lovely Brown-Haired Girl Has Gone) is done to a delicately spare guitar backing, while her magisterially expressive account of the emigration song The Quiet Land Of Erin comes with sympathetic clarsach decorations and the lyrical duet of The High Walls Of Derry is given an appealing lilt by Colum’s deft guitar work.

One finely managed (though maybe less characteristic or expected) contribution finds Colum and Maggie sweetly duetting on Burns’ It Was A’ For Our Rightfu’ King, while Hebridean mouth-music makes its mark on the project with a sturdy waulking song in praise of Alasdair, Son Of Gallant Coll, and the disc ends in more tranquil mode with the yearning spell of The Castle Of Wild Waves. Like the whole disc, this reading is characterised not only by the performers’ soothing, intimate vocals and careful, bright-eyed musicianship, but most important, also by its sense of life and vitality and an incurable optimism of the human spirit. This entirely charming release, though impeccably presented in the most attractive of digipacks and sporting a beautiful booklet that contains full texts and translations, may well be in danger of slipping through the nets of coverage, as the promoters and radio stations always seem to have bigger fish to catch – but you mustn’t let it, for it’s a true pearl, and thus eminently treasurable.