Trad & Folk
Artists and Albums
Hello! This page is part of an opinionated overview of Celtic and British folk music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... This is not meant to be taken as a "definitive" resource, but rather as a record of some of the music which has caught my interest. I am always looking for more good music to explore, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This is the first page covering the letter "M"
Ewan Maccoll - see artist profile
Kirsty Maccoll - see artist profile
Iain MacDonald "Beneath Still Waters" (Greentrax, 1986)
(Produced by Dick Gaughan)
Scottish folk star Dick Gaughan produced and plays on this politically-oriented contemporary folk album, showcasing singer-songwriter Iain MacDonald. Songs include "Santiago Stadium," "Ask Questions Later," "Do You Think It's Right?" and a cover of "Free Nelson Mandela," to round things out.
Father Sydney MacEwan "The Road To The Isles" (ASV, 1999)
Glasgow's Sydney McEwan followed both the call of the Church and the roar of the crowd, pursuing a professional singing career even as he maintained his priestly status. These recordings, dating from 1935-47, were actually some of the only popular recordings of Gaelic song during the inter- and postwar eras, and although they do have some of the prissy artsong affectations that English tastes imposed on those otherwise unruly Celtic ballads, it must be said that MacEwan had a lovely tenor, and an ease about his singing that transcended the stilted mannerisms picked up from his idol, John McCormack. Not modern in the post folk-boom sense (and not strictly folkloric either, there are several modern tunes on here as well...), but still rather nice. If you want to delve a little further back into the island sound, then this disc might be worth tracking down.
Mairi MacInnes "Causeway" (Lismor, 1989)
Mairi MacInnes "This Feeling Inside" (Greentrax, 1995)
Mairi MacInnes "Orosay" (Greentrax, 2001)
I'm always in favor of folks singing in Gaelic, though I can't say I'm that thrilled with her voice, or with the album's arrangements. I guess there is an unusualness factor here -- the music sounds vaguely more "adult contemporary" and less trad, so the pairing of the "foreign" language and "modern" music is a little new. But again, itÕs how it sounds that matters, and I found that this disc set my hackles on end more often than not. I'll pass.
Mairi MacInnes "Tickettyboo" (Greentrax, 2005)
Mairi MacInnes "Dilyn Y Fflam" (Sain, 2007)
Talitha MacKenzie "Solas" (Shanachie, 1994)
What a horrible album by this veteran of the Mouth Music band... It's an absolutely horrendous Celtic-pop crossover album, melding mouth music with various brands of ultra-tacky musical arrangements: super-generic house music, tinkly keyboard pop, "funky" lite jazz, swirly New Age synths, embarassingly bad spoken interludes and samples, Latin riffs, etc. It's really just awful. Really, really, really awful. And did I mention it was tacky? Brrrrrrrrrr... it sends shudders down my spine.
Talitha MacKenzie "Spiorad" (Shanachie, 1996)
Talitha MacKenzie "Indian Summer" (Sonas, 2008)
Dougie MacLean - see artist profile
Donald MacLellan "The Dusky Meadow" (Rounder, 2003)
A raspy, enduringly authentic set of old-world tunes given a New World lilt, performed by Cape Breton fiddler Donald MacLellan, with accompaniment by pianist Doug MacPhee. The first time I listened to this, I was a little taken aback by MacLellan's more tremulous moments -- there's a palpable sense that this 85-year old fiddler is a little past his prime. The flip side, though, is that you can also tell that he remains a strong stylist and a master of his art; there may be some shaky moments, but this is a fine testament to an artist with deep traditional roots and a complete command of his repertoire. The more you listen to it, the more this will grow on you.
Kevin MacLeod "Springwell" (Greentrax, 1999)
Kevin MacLeod "Dorney Rock" (Greentrax, 2006)
Buddy MacMaster "Judique On The Floor" (1993)
Buddy MacMaster "The Judique Flyer" (Stephen MacDonald, 2000)
Buddy MacMaster "Cape Breton Tradition" (Rounder, 2003)
A craggy-yet-catchy set of old Scottish fiddle tunes from the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where an old style of traditional playing has been augmented with various local embellishments and stylistic flourishes. Nearly eighty years old when these sessions were recorded, MacMaster is an acknowledged master of the style, and his bowing is still lively and deft... He's accompanied here by his daughter, Mary Elizabeth MacMaster MacInnis, whose straightforward piano playing keeps pace with his somewhat dazzling violin work. This might not be for everyone -- like many similar albums, this all-instrumental set is largely "for fiddle lovers only," but if you count yourself in that number, then you'll definitley want to check this album out... (The highly-regarded Mr. MacMaster is also, by the way, uncle to the well-known fiddle whiz, Natalie MacMaster, who counts him as one of her primary influences... )
Natalie MacMaster "Four On The Floor" (Astro Custom, 1989)
Natalie MacMaster "Road To The Isle" (Astro Custom, 1991)
Natalie MacMaster "Fit As A Fiddle" (Rounder, 1993)
Natalie MacMaster "No Boundaries" (Rounder, 1996)
Natalie MacMaster "In My Hands" (Rounder, 1999)
Natalie McMaster "My Roots Are Showing" (Rounder, 2000)
Natalie MacMaster "Live" (Rounder, 2001)
Natalie MacMaster "Blueprint" (Rounder, 2003)
Natalie MacMaster & Buddy MacMaster "Traditional Music From Cape Breton Island" (Rounder, 2005)
Natalie MacMaster "Yours Truly" (Rounder, 2006)
Canadian fiddle whiz Natalie McMaster is as technically dazzling as ever, although the popped-up arrangements that define this album aren't really my cup of tea... A nice mix of Celtic-based and bluegrassy/newgrassy styles, mixed with a heavy backbeat and some super-slick chord progressions... Most of the songs are McMaster originals, although she still finds time to saw through a medley of raw-sounding Strathspey reels and other traditional material that reflects her Cape Breton roots... McMaster's fans will dig this one.
Natalie MacMaster "A Compilation" (Rounder, 1996)
Natalie MacMaster "The Collection" (Rounder, 2007)
Finlay MacNeill "Fonn Is Furan: A Tune And A Welcome" (Temple, 1982)
Super-authentic a capella ballads and a bit of piping from the Scottish Highlands. Nice, old-fashioned, rugged material for those who are into the old, old stuff.
Catherine Ann MacPhee "Canan Nan Gaidheal (The Language Of The Gael)" (Greentrax, 1994)
Catherine Ann MacPhee "Sings Mairi Mhor" (Greentrax, 1994)
Catherine Ann MacPhee "Chi Mi'n Geamhradh (I See Winter)" (Greentrax, 1994)
Catherine Ann MacPhee "Suil Air Ais: Looking Back" (Greentrax, 2004)
A fine vocal set by Scottish trad singer Catherine Ann MacPhee, whose approach is a bit on the formal side, but who still has a lovely voice. The opening tracks feature the Celtic harp, an airy-sounding instrument which is generally anathema to me, but different sounds take over later on the album... With a drifting guitar behind her, MacPhee is particularly appealing, and while she doesn't quite have the fluidity or magical feel of many of my favorite trad singers, she's still quite nice and undeniably authentic. Worth checking out.
Mac-Talla "Mairidh Gaol Is Ceol : The Gaelic Song Tradition Of Scotland" (Temple, 1994)
A Scots supergroup of sorts, Mac-Talla's members include vocalist Christine Primrose and harpist Alison Kinnaird. The band specializes in sweet vocal tunes; perhaps a bit sugary overall, but thankfully free of the synthesizers and electronic claptrap that has swamped Celtic music in recent years. Produced by Scottish folk super-guru Robin Morton, of Battlefield Band fame.
Celtic/Brit Folk Albums -- More Letter "M"
Main Celtic/Brit Index
Main World Music Index