Smithfield Fair,
Cairdeas (Kinship)
(Centaur, 2000)

In its third release from Centaur records, Smithfield Fair celebrates "kinship" in a pleasing collection of both traditional and modern Scots-Gaelic folk tunes. A follow-up album to Scattered Seeds of Scotland (1997) and Highland Call (1998), Cairdeas brings Scottish culture alive. In this latest project, the band (composed of the vocal talents of Jan Smith, Dudley-Brian Smith and Frang Bladen) teams up with guests Margaret Claire Smith and Bob Smith, for friends, fun and frolic, Scots-style.

This unique blend of songs proves sometimes lulling, and othertimes energetic -- one of those listening sessions that prove to be an experience as passion and pride come alive. One of the wondrous aspects of the this music is its ability to evoke a sense of Scottish pride and conjure the highlands so vividly in the listener's mind.

With the exception of "'S Ann An Ile" or "Song of Isla," I found the spirited vocals and instrumentals extremely pleasing. "Glen Logie," "An Ataireachid Ard," "Mo Nighean Donn (My Nutbrown Maiden)," "I Wad Walk the Hielans," "West Highland Waltz," "Catriona," "Robi Donna Gorach," "Fire in the Glen" and "Scotland, Fair Scotland" all proved to be Scottish treasures.

Telling lyrics (accentuated with pleasing rhythms on the accordion, mandolin, bodhran and highland pipes) make this listening experience a particularly memorable one:

Here the eagle soars on high;
Gaelic strength our battle cry;
hold the ancient standard high,
Scotsmen will live free or die.
The land owns us not we the land,
our father's faith abides.
Of Scotland, fair Scotland,
the pipers pray with pride.

Anyone who has fallen in love with the essence of Scotland will want to resurrect it with this stimulating music. While listening, you're sure to believe that Scotland is nary a heartbeat away.

[ by Lynne Remick ]



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