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WILD GEESE - And Saxon Faith

WILD GEESE - And Saxon Faith
Folk Music Productions Ltd

This band is an eclectic mix of Dutch and Irish musicians of different age groups who have found each other in the world of music from the Celtic Countries. I liked it, but before I go on, I have to explain something first about my (Dutch) attitude to it.

The current understanding of Celtic music in Holland consists mostly of people running around in semi-historically correct costumes, banging drums and if all else fails, chucking the bagpipes to the fore – as long as people can clap and sing along or dance themselves silly. Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing, and some of these people do play their instruments well, but it messes up the concept of any folk music here in Holland.

I was afraid this Wild Geese album would be an example of such. A provocative title, a history lesson in the cover and I was expecting pan-celtic sentiment, banging war drums, scratchy fiddles and the same old bagpipe tunes. Fortunately, I was only right about the last bit. The title hardly reflects the content.

The Highland piper, Ewald Verhoeven, is very good. Stick in more original tunes (every other piper plays these ones in Holland), mix it up with the band more and it would be perfect.

Lead singer, Peter Brennan, though a little rough round the edges, has a voice full of feeling and sincerity. I love P Stands For Paddy and The Maiden And The Selkie is a lovely story, arranged in a sweet, honest way. Annabelle Lee is great and shows versatility in sound. I love that there is more than one song on this that I hadn't heard before by Dutch bands. No Star Of The County Down, again, thank heavens! They have done a great service to Dirty Old Town – this one’s now my favourite version! Some arrangements could have been more original, there are bits of tired tunes in songs, but then again, if it ain't really broke, don't fix it.

The tunes sets are all right. The fiddler, Christina Lloyd, is skilled at the instrument, but could loosen up a bit more around the corners in the tunes. The guitarist, Pieter Smits, is a strong player and he infuses the band with a swinging dose of blues and rock roots.

Overall, this is a good album. I have seen bits of Wild Geese live gigs on YouTube and hopefully they can steer clear of the crowd pleasing thumping and stick with the lovely sincere stuff I've heard on this album. I know from personal experience how hard it is to adhere to your true love in music and please your audience as well. Good luck guys!

Annemarie de Bie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.