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MAGGIE MACINNES - Òran na Mnà – A Woman’s Song

MAGGIE MACINNES - Òran na Mnà – A Woman’s Song
Marram Music MARCD04

Maggie MacInnes has recorded the loveliest album of her career with an exquisitely sequenced song cycle celebrating the role of women in Scottish Gaelic life across the years – the music was originally premiered at Celtic Connections Festival in January 2004. All the songs here were composed by women – not only by Maggie herself, but by anonymous women, whose creativity probably went unsung during their lifetime.  Their beautiful music lives on via the legacy of the oral tradition, however, celebrating women’s role as tradition bearers.  A palpable sense of cohesion abounds in eleven sumptuous tracks that focus on birth and baptism, nurture and guidance, love and loss, and hopes & ambitions for the next generation. 

The songs are performed by four sublime and lovely voices.  Maggie’s singing continues to reveal every emotional nuance, conveying a sense of vulnerability at times; her mother Flora MacNeil contributes the most beautiful spoken poetry, delivering words written as long ago as 1650 with warmth and feeling.  The rich, distinctive delivery by Hands Up For Trad Award winner Kathleen MacInnes, and the clear, beautiful voice of Mairi Morrison complete the sensory impact – here you have the most delightful combination of female Gaelic vocalists imaginable.

The songs are without exception beautiful, full of emotion and femininity, and the instrumental tracks are captivating and full of life.  There’s Màiri’s Dance with its infectious, abundant energy, or the passionately sung A Mother’s Parting Blessing.  Or the exquisite Flora and the Primroses, with the ever-excellent Fraser Fifield on saxophone.  The stellar musician line up is completed by Finlay MacDonald, Brian McAlpine, Marie Fielding, Frank McGuire and Aaron Jones.

Maggie has clearly drawn upon much inspiration for this mesmerising album, and she acknowledges her mother’s gift of passing on such a vibrant ‘living tradition’ to her.  The recording was supported by the National Lottery (through the Scottish Arts Council).  It’s difficult to acknowledge that such beautiful music has to be funded in this way to see the light of day, but let’s be glad that they dug deep for this one.  This is very, very beautiful music, and it feels special and important.

Debbie Koritsas


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This album was reviewed in Issue 74 of The Living Tradition magazine.