Norah Rendell & Brian Miller,
Wait There Pretty One
(Two Tap, 2007)

Norah Rendell is a singer/flute and whistle player from Vancouver. She is or has been a member of several bands, including Cleia, Outside Track and the Maenads. With a master's degree in Irish traditional music, Rendell is well versed in the style of music you will find on Wait There Pretty One.

This is a collaborative CD with guitarist/backing vocalist Brian Miller. Miller is originally from Minnesota, where the duo is currently based. Like Rendell, he too is or has been a member of numerous groups including, The Tommie Cunniffe Trio and Gan Bua. I reviewed his work on Your Town from the duo Five Mile Chase several years back. Wait There Pretty One has had a much stronger impression on me than that earlier CD.

Guest fiddler Stephanie Cuter drew me in to "Heather Down Road." This song covers several decades in the life of a lady who waits years and years before finally marrying her love. She had fallen in love a few times, but the men in her life have eventually moved on and never returned. But finally, one stayed. There are moments when Rendell sounds so much like Maura O'Connell, it is uncanny.

"Qui me Passera le Bois (Who Will Help Me Through the Woods?)" is a fun, upbeat, traditional Quebecois song. This is a song about a small, pretty woman who asks a fine looking man to help her through the woods. They hear wolves and run to safety, where upon the young lady laughs. It seems they ran from partridges, not wolves. While the lyrics might not be in English, this is still one of my favorite tracks on the CD.

There are several jigs and reels, which allow Rendell to showcase her talent on the flute. Good examples include "Grogan's/Felix the Cat," "Dinny Delaney's/Limestone Rock/Lad O'Beirne's" and "Flying to the Fleadh/Drops of Brandy." You might think you are over in Ireland, not listening to Canadian/U.S. artists. I'm not sure what I like better: Rendell's vocals and her talent on the flute. Miller is equally talented with his guitar.

The second guest musician on this CD is Nathan Gourley, who plays fiddle on "Let the Mystery Be." This is a great song for those who don't quite have faith to follow any particular religion. As the chorus states, "Everybody's wondering what and where they all come from / Everybody's wondering 'bout where they're gonna go / when the whole thing's done / But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me / I think I'll just let the mystery be."

I was quite honestly caught off guard by Wait There Pretty One. I enjoy Irish/Celtic music and was surprised to find this collection of talent. Wait There Pretty One is easily in my top five finds of 2009 (although it was released in 2007). Incidentally, both Rendell and Miller are members of the Doon Ceili Band as well. I think I'm going to have to go check them out there, too.

[ visit the artist online ]

review by
Wil Owen

16 January 2010

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