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CELIA Ní FHÁTHARTA - Irish Traditional Sean-Nós Songs

CELIA Ní FHÁTHARTA - Irish Traditional Sean-Nós Songs
Cló Iar-Chonnacht CICD183

Celia Ní Fhátharta hails from Baile na hAbhann in Connemara. The latter region is synonymous with the sean-nós, and certain families thereabouts also stand out because of their achievements in the realm of traditional Gaelic song. In this specific connection, Celia’s mother Kathleen is one of the famous Griallais sisters (from the very family who’ve been award-winners at Corn Uí Riada on many occasions). So it might well be expected that Celia displays considerable musical talent – and so it proves, complemented by her expertise in the field of academic research; for in 2009 she completed her MA in Modern Irish on the song tradition of her native Connemara, from which the repertoire she sings on this CD is almost exclusively drawn.

This is a disc of peerless unaccompanied singing in the strict traditional sean-nós style and with confident, assured ornamentation – pure and unadulterated singing for which no apology need be given. And with Celia’s direct and compelling voice matched by the immediacy and forward placement of the recording, there can be no complaints about the disc’s very-much-what-it-says-on-the-tin contents. It’s an album abundantly generously stocked with Celia’s keenly expressive musical personality: 14 tracks and a little over 76 minutes of music.

Standouts include a stunning account of Sagart Na Cúile Báine (which, like the disc opener Úna Dheas Ní Nia, Celia learnt from her aunt Sarah) and the pair of religious devotional songs (Seacht nDólás Na Maighdine Muire and Seacht Suáilcí Na Maighdine Muire) which form an unusual addition to this collection. It’s an album full of magnificent, wonderfully resonant singing and beguiling, twining melodies that for me has been a mesmerising, and hugely enjoyable, listening experience. And all notwithstanding the one obvious drawback of the otherwise excellent presentation – the unfathomable, lamentable total lack of song synopses and/or translations (even though the full texts are, quite correctly, provided in the sung language and there’s a smidgen of biog note in English).

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.