Mary Jane & Wendy. For fans and followers of Cape Breton traditional music, this is enough information to understand we are talking about Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac.
These are two extremely talented artists who maintain busy solo careers. However, when creating and performing music together, something special, beautiful and soulful happens.
I was in a six person band years ago and if we had played really well on a given night, one of my band mates would often talk about the seventh guy in the band. What he meant was the distinct sound that only the six of us playing together well could produce. Mary Jane & Wendy have this ability in spades and it is very evident on their “Seinn” recording.
Seinn sees two artists at the top of their game performing with grace and an experienced ease. It is also evident these gifted artists and those who help on the recording are, as jazz players say, deep in the pocket. There is a “feel” about this recording that causes the listener to sway and move in response to the music. The East Coast Music Association got it right when Mary Jane & Wendy were presented the ECMA for Group Recording of the Year for Sienn.
This recording reminds us of the power of another language, in this case Gaelic, to touch us with or without knowledge of the language. Too often Gaelic songs are thought of as sad or melancholic. Mary Jane often makes humorous references to this in live performances. I prefer to describe my experience with the Gaelic songs on Seinn as moving and soul stirring.
The musical arrangements are rich in their sparseness and certainly bring some of the ancient Gaelic songs into the present where they coexist seamlessly with the more recently written material.
Lovers of traditional (and original) Cape Breton jigs and reels will not be disappointed here as Wendy plays with the lift of an Otis elevator. However, she also really shines on the fiddle accompaniment on some of the Gaelic songs. There is some truly beautiful stuff here.
Mary Jane and Wendy have made something special in Seinn.
Written by Max MacDonald for celticheart.ca