Mae Robertson
& Don Jackson,
The Sun Upon the Lake is Low
(Lyric Partners, 1997)

This CD is the second offering in a trilogy of lullabies/children-oriented music done by Mae Robertson and her Lyric Partners label. The first one, All Through the Night, has already become a multiple-award winner, as has this one. To limit the audience for this exquisitely tender offering to youngsters is a major mistake, however. The music and vocals are clear, clean and soulfully rendered. The sounds are gentle and simple in scope, as befits lullabies; this allows the true beauty of both the songs and the artists shine as they should -- naturally. The selections are traditional folk tunes and songs that should become traditional. All are folk: many familiar, some new, but all comforting in one way or another.

Among the traditional songs offered here are "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Young Maidens," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "Wild Mountain Thyme," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Gaelic Lullaby." The renditions of these beloved favorites are fresh and lovely in the pure clarity of their performances. There is no gilt on these lilies, coming more as welcome remembrances rather than stale repetitions.

Of the more modern works, the names of three of the lyricists jump immediately to the eye. We are graced with a wonderful rendition of William Butler Yeats' poem "Down By the Sally Gardens," a moving cover of Van Morrison's "Irish Heartbeat" and Joni Mitchell's always welcome "Circle Game." Also included for the sheer delight of the audience are "Child of Mine" written by Bill Staines, A.P. Carter's "Storms Are on the Ocean," Charlie McGettigan's "Feet of a Dancer," "Never Be the Sun" by Donagh Long, "Hush While the Little Ones Sleep" by Lotus Dickey, the Aloha Foundation's magical "The Sun Upon the Lake is Low," and the only instrumental piece offered -- Rev. William McLeod's "Sitting in the Stern of a Boat."

There is a variety of songs wishing the child well on his or her journey into life ("Child of Mine," "Feet of a Dancer"), gentle warnings of the dangers awaiting the innocent ("Come All Ye Fair and Tender Young Maidens," "Wild Mountain Thyme"), good advice ("Never Be the Sun," "Irish Heartbeat"), and some are here for pure assurance ("Storms Are on the Ocean," "The Sun Upon the Lake is Low"). They are all lullabies in their own way, and they are stunningly well done by all the artists involved.

These are the very talented people who came together to record this incredible collection: Mae Robertson on vocals, Don Jackson on guitar, bass and vocals, David Gusakov on fiddle, William Jackson on Celtic harp and whistles, Jeremiah McLane on accordion and piano, Abby Newton on cello, and Gordon Stone on pedal steel. Don Jackson gets the producer's credit. Patti Woods did the enchanting cover illustration and design.

It is obvious that I greatly enjoyed this CD. My biggest problem has been trying to hold back the gushing praise it engenders. There is no reason to doubt that the other CDs in this series are just as good. I plan on finding out for myself at the first opportunity. I am also planning to purchase a few copies of this as gifts for the special children in my life. They should be well pleased. The adults I know who will be wanting copies for themselves when they hear mine can buy their own.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]

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