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STRI in Gaelic means to strive or to struggle and, as an album title, it serves only to reinforce where contemporary Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon stands musically and politically.
Her third album is a blistering take on traditional themes of love, loss and life’s struggles, with Mackinnon’s voice politely dragging the Gaelic tradition firmly into the 21st century.
Producer Duncan Lyall has created a vibrant soundscape, meshing traditional folk instruments with synths and a set of arrangements that occasionally surprise, but always delight, the ears.
Moch an Diugh a Rinn mi Eirigh/Puirt-a-beul (Early Today I Rose) astounds and mesmerises, the sadness of Roisin Dubh (Little Back Rose) is infused with an uplifting optimism and Dh’fhalbh Mo Run air an Aiseig (My Love Left on a Ferry) captures the confidence and resilience of Mackinnon’s beautiful voice.
The self-penned We’re Not Staying, starting with an extract from Chilean Marxist leader Salvador Allende’s final broadcast in 1973, confronts the pain of exile in the aftermath of the CIA-backed coup.
Against the backdrop of outstanding musicianship and arrangements — the Highland bagpipes of Ali Hutton and Jarlath Henderson’s Uilean pipes are particular standouts — Mackinnon’s breathtaking vocal performance firmly establishes her as one of the outstanding traditional singers of her generation.
In both Gaelic and English, the outcome is passionate, committed and revitalising.
Stri will surely feature heavily in this year’s award ceremonies but, until then, the struggle goes on for Maeve Mackinnon.
Stri is available listen to and purchase online at https://maevemackinnon.bandcamp.com/album/str. Maeve Mckinnon is performing in Rutherglen on March 23 and Skye on April 3, details: maevemackinnon.com
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