Mary Jane Lamond,
(Turtlemusik, 2005)

Mary Jane Lamond draws heavily upon her Nova Scotian roots for her latest release, Storas -- the title means "Treasure." It's a delightful all-Gaelic collection of dance tunes, songs of occupation, puirt a beul, love songs and laments.

Lamond's instantly recognisable and very lovely voice lends such distinction and beauty to the Gaelic repertoire. There's life and emotion in all of these songs -- and the consistently tasteful arrangements ensure satisfying shifts in both tempo and mood. Instrumentally sparkling, the album captures a rich, traditional acoustic sound -- percussionist Geoff Arsenault is outstanding on many of these songs, playing a variety of hand percussion instruments, and the energy he injects into songs like "Mo Nighean Donn as Boidhche" is stunning. Wendy MacIsaac's fiddle lends the brightest tone to the recording, whilst bass and acoustic guitar add both rhythm and depth.

You will not find the electronic, experimental explorations of some of her earlier work here.

A couple of songs feature exquisite string arrangements by the Blue Engine String Quartet. On "O Nighean Donn nan Gobhar," they enrich a beautiful bass line, lazily brushed drums and a lovely, relaxed vocal. MacIsaac's Cape Breton bandmates Beolach make an outstanding contribution on the wonderful "Bal na h-Aibhne Deas," playing a rip-roaring jig. The album closes on a cheery high note with a rousing interpretation of the milling song "Oran Luaidh."

Lamond has recorded a beautiful album that breathes new life into the songs of her ancestors. This is a fine and lovely album.

by Debbie Koritsas
3 June 2006

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