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All reviews by David Marcus unless otherwise noted.
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Shape Shifting
Jeanne Morrill (voice), various musicians including Peter Barnes (flute and whistle), Earl Gaddis (violin/viola), and Jacqueline Schwab (piano). 13 tracks; 49'33". Life Tree Productions, 5 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.
These are modern settings of old tunes, sung mostly in Scots Gaelic by singer whose classical training and strength of voice is amply evident. Equally good, her training in Gaelic language and song at the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling is also shown in the way her singing matches the Gaelic words and rhythms. Shape Shifting refers to transformations, and here old songs are set in beautiful, somewhat classical-sounding arrangements that highlight the centuries-old old sounds--but also sound extremely contemporary.

The accompanying musicians include some of the best English country dance (Playford) musicians in the world and they bring a great deal of that sound to the album. The strength in these performances is a sustained, weaving strength, carefully crafted but also improvised and modern. It reminds me of some of Trapezoid's performances when they were at their very best. The songs I recognized, such as Co Sheinneas An Fhideag Airgid (Who Will Play the Silver Whistle, familiar from performances by Sileas) are slower but easily as powerful.

Rating: an A in the category of "wonderful modern transformations of tradition". As a plus, the sound quality is superb and the notes complete.

David Marcus  
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The Atlanta Red Knot Celtic Quarterly