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Fintan Vallely

“A wonderful album … a totemic memorial to this singer’s imaginative and original creativity.

“This album of song and music by Eithne Ní Uallacháin is a fantastic odyssey into an ethereal world of memory and celebration. Her singing has a distinctively precise articulation, is seductively engaging and emotional, and becomes the delicate yet robust fabric on to which a profound array of styles, metres, timbres, instruments, techniques and technologies are here juxtaposed, layered and interwoven.

“It is traditional in its feel, but utterly contemporary in the experience it generates and in how that is achieved. Each track is surprisingly different, drawing the listener in to separate psychic worlds of reflection. The experience opens with ‘Bilingua’ with looped vocal repetitions metred by metallic percussion, and varied sung riffs developed with sweeping strings and swing hornpipe rhythm to an almost-visual, utopian escape.

“‘Meadhrán Samhraidh’ picks up the them with a rich, contrapuntal soundscape that mediates delicate sensitivity to big-stage, thrilling vibrancy.

“‘Bone’ is a dark, provocative, English-lyric narrative journey hung on superb guitar, with a clipped ochón refrain that continues the mysterious rain-forest of parallel soundscapes.

“‘The Fishertman’/’Le Pecheur’ draws reins back to melody with a calm, rich, paced air with a captivating guitar and fiddle lead-in which is built out by cello, whistles and pipes; vocals are used to decorate the melody in a psychic observation of the mystery of the sea. ‘Grief ‘ is a perceptive lyric with a caoineadh theme: an overlay of South African (where this practice is a feature of grieving still) and Scottish Gaelic styles that flow to a contemporary, strings-backed, concert-hall strength.

“‘Lughnasa Damhsa’ is a bilingual, gentle waltzing return to the feel of Eithne’s 1990s material, quite delicately and tastily lifted by a hint of banjo and carried on a float of slow jazz riffs. ‘Óró’ is a thrilling paced vocal metered by tablas on the ‘S’ é do Bheatha Bhaile’ theme that in the multi-voice choruses brings out the relationship to ‘Johny Cope’ and its Jacobite melodic family.

“‘Senex’ Puer’s superb melodic tapestry is reworked now in its imaginative, middle-ages, cloisterly romance around the vocals with emphatic percussion underlain by pipe drones. The bi-lingual ‘Stretched on your Grave’ evokes a certain fear, built as it is on an emotional breath-pulse, yet is reassuring and uplifting as celebration in its clarity which is directed by a neatness and spring in the supportive strings and keyboard.

“‘Táim Curtha im Aonar ‘mo luí’/ ‘I’m Weary of Lying Alone’ carries the listener further into dream and reflection in a returned-lover song built on calm guitar and a delicate, swelling strings and oboe.
The finale, ‘Winter Snows’ is a surprising three-level, reflective commentary spiced with hints of bouzouki and vielle-like fiddle, where the singer’s voice has authoritative power and is augmented in a cosmopolitan mural by fiddle and acoustic and electric guitars. Technology effortlessly supports each of the songs throughout this wonderful album, dovetailing rather than blending the variety of idioms and styles. But the driving force is the distinctive and exceptional edge and sweetness of Eithne Ní Uallacháin’s voice, making the collection nothing less than a thoroughly challenging, rewarding and uplifting experience, a totemic memorial to this singer’s imaginative and original creativity.”