Patricia Murray,
Failt Eilein a' Phrionnsa
(Welcome to Prince Edward Island)

(Atholl, 2005)

I was in low spirits when I got into the car one recent evening, the result of a series of unrelated events and situations. I could feel the tension knotting into my back and neck even as I slipped Patricia Murray's new CD into my stereo. Within moments, I had relaxed as Murray's gorgeous, delicate Gaelic voice drifted through the darkened car.

The album celebrates the Gaelic tradition that still thrives on Prince Edward Island, and Patricia's vocals are possibly the best advertisement the Gaelic society there could employ.

The songs here are all drawn from PEI's Gaelic tradition, and as such they are far less known than their counterparts from Scotland or even PEI's close neighbor, Cape Breton. But a lack of familiarity is no problem; the songs themselves are a revelation, and Patricia's beautiful, gentle presentation of them ensures that you'll know them well after being inclined to listen to her sing them over and over again.

To break things up a bit, Nova Scotian multi-instrumentalist Troy MacGillivray -- who provides much of the background instrumentation on the album -- steps to the fore for the "PEI Wedding Reels," a track featuring Troy on fiddle and piano. Patricia is content to keep a quiet, thumping rhythm on bodhran. On "Imrich nan Eileanach (Emigration of the Islanders)," Patricia colorfully recites the poem written by Calum Ban MacMhannain, who sailed from Skye to PEI in 1803. "Salm 23" is, of course, a Gaelic translation of the popular psalm.

The liner notes are concise but comprehensive, providing historical notes on each song as well as lyrics in Gaelic and English.

Failt Eilein a' Phrionnsa is welcome, indeed. It is just this sort of emotion, power and artistic dedication that will make the language thrive again and keep PEI's music moving into the forefront of Celtic tradition.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 17 September 2005

[ visit Patricia Murray's website ]