When I first heard Eithne’s singing, my reaction to her voice was immediate and deep. Her singing of the song ‘Lough Erne’s Shore’ made me feel at once both sad and comforted. There has never been and never will be another singer who evokes such a feeling in me.
I went on to study all of Eithne’s recordings and got to know her turn of phrase and ornamentation intimately. I absolutely love the way she slides on and off notes, bending them with emotion in the most understated, subtle way. I love the way it doesn’t really matter which language she’s singing in; Latin, English and Irish are all delivered with her own personal beauty.
What I find most interesting and moving about Eithne’s music is her use of harmony. While her singing is timeless and of a tradition, her approach to harmony and composition sounds really modern and progressive. It blows me away how she uses harmony to accent an emotion. It can be a beautiful subtle harmony or something a little more uncomfortable and tense, as the song requires. Her, almost choral, backing vocals on some songs are a work of art in themselves. Her writing is so beautifully distilled to the purest of her thoughts that it moves me every time I listen to it.
I’ve been asking myself the question, ‘How does Eithne influence me as a singer?’ and I honestly can’t work that out. Every time I listen to her I am enthralled. Eithne’s sincere, languid, honest, deep, intelligent, plaintive, arresting and challenging magic will always be to the forefront of why I love singing and singers. She was one of a kind.