Chad McAnally & Shawn McBurnie,
Blackbird from the Willow Sings
(independent, 2011)

Shawn McBurnie and Chad McAnnally have collaborated to provide music fans with a unique experience. Combining their individual talents, Blackbird from the Willow Sings has the power to transport the listener back in time or into a mystical state of mind.

The album is a skillful and poetic blend of the traditional and the new that should appeal to a variety of musical tastes, especially for lovers of early music and folk.

McAnally is a National Scottish Harp Champion, and his passion for traditional music and respect for the rich heritage of his instrument informs his performance and composition. He is among a dedicated cadre of musicians devoted to revival of the ancient wire-strung Gaelic harp. In addition to the harp, he plays low whistle and tin whistle.

McBurnie, a native of the Pacific Northwest transplanted to Minnesota, is a vocalist who also plays bodhran and cello and has an impressive gift for words. His voice is well-suited to the sean nos style, where the voice places as much emphasis on the words as on melody.

The title track is based on a verse from the Book of Ballymote (1392), though the poem is believed to date from the 9th century. McAnally discovered the poem and shared it with McBurnie. After extensive study and conferring with Daithi Sproule, a musician and expert on Old Irish, McBurnie made a translation and came up with the melody. McAnally followed up with variations based on other old manuscripts until the two were satisfied with this final version.

In addition to the traditional selections, the 11 tracks on the album include a trio of original songs composed by McBurnie. Backup on the album is provided by Rumgumption bandmates Brian Barnes on guitar and Adam Modares on djembe.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
John R. Lindermuth

26 November 2011

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