Link to Living Tradition Homepage





ELLEN GIBLING - The Bend In The Light 

ELLEN GIBLING - The Bend In The Light 
Private Label 

This is the debut solo release from a Nova Scotia-based harpist who is steadily establishing a strong career. She is a member of a half dozen combos, playing styles from classical improvisation to Irish traditional to Scandinavian neo-folk, and has performed and toured with several orchestras. Gibling studied classical harp at McGill University (Montréal) and traditional Irish music at the University of Limerick. It was in Montréal where she was introduced to traditional playing after an encounter at a session.

Standout tracks include three polkas in the Sliabh Luachra style, a set of reels with original tunes from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Ireland (The Cribbies/ Vice Versa/ Louise’s Reel), a mixing of original and traditional hornpipes (Maggie Finnegan’s/ One Across/ The Garden Of Daisies) and a delightfully wry set of slides called The Cat Wants Out/ The Cat Wants In/ The Cat Wants Out Again/ The Cat Wants In Again. On the gentler side, there are a couple of noble and somewhat-sedate jigs (about two neighbouring dogs) called Side By Each, and a lovely rendering of the old air, Lament For The Death Of Staker Wallace.

The contemporary tunes all have a personal connection with Gibling – through harp colleagues, mentors and friends. Her technique is precise and clear, from lush chording to rippling melodies to subtle harmonics to crisp counterpoints, and all with rhythms that propel the tunes forward.

Sometimes folks tag harp music as being designed for relaxation and contemplation. But this is also music for dancing – hop jigs, polkas, reels, hornpipes, slides and more. Sure, you can listen to them and try to sit still, but good luck with that!

Ivan Emke


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine