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Anne Martin and Ingrid Henderson "Nighean nan geug - music and song from the Gaelic tradition" WWAVECD002

Anne Martin is a traditional Gaelic singer with a considerable reputation within the Gaelic community for the quality of her work. Anne has worked with clarsach/multi-instrumentalist Ingrid Henderson since 1996 and they make regular appearances on Gaelic TV and radio. Their work is always of a high standard but in the studio setting they seem to have found another level of energy and creativity, producing a recording that is dynamic, flowing, even gushing, with life.

There are times on the track 'Buain a' Chorice' (which also features jazz saxist Rob Hall in fine form), for example, when Ingrid Henderson's clarsach threatens to tip over the edge from its initial high spirited entry into a babbling fit of giggling as her accompaniment fills with glissading asides. Throughout this set her clarsach has everything you could hope for - melody, rhythm, colour, resonance, pluck, introspection when needed: here the clarsach is no demure, caged song bird fit only for brightening the domestic realm with softly spoken confidences, it soars and flutters like the lark above the croft. As though it were needed, here is proof that Ingrid is a musician of quite outstanding calibre, a virtuoso in terms of sensibility and it is little wonder that she is the accompanist of choice for so many contemporary traditional Gaelic singers.

But, she doesn't steal the show. A final word has to be reserved for Anne Martin's singing. It is nothing short of a joy to listen to a singer who craves the song, who sings with animation and feeling whilst enunciating with clarity. There are songs on this CD the words of which cover the spectrum of emotion and that is what you get. Anne's singing is firmly grounded in the Gaelic tradition (firm as monaidh dubh), truthful and engaging, assertive and sensitive. Sparing use of poetic licence when it comes to translating the title of the CD facilitates the claim that this CD is very much a strong and vibrant branch growing from the tree of the Gaelic tradition. And that says it all really. Highly recommended.

Peter Urpeth

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This album was reviewed in Issue 44 of The Living Tradition magazine.