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Mary Jane Lamond


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Traditional (and trad-based) Celtic, mainstream pop

Status:

Most recent release, Seinn (with Wendy MacIsaac, 2012)

See also:

Mary Jane Lamond's site

Comparisons:

Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac

Covers/own material:

Songs based on traditional material. Mary Jane Lamond does some arrangements and wrote the music for "Crodh Air A' Bhruaich," a song on Làn Dùil.

General comments:

Mary Jane Lamond is the only Celtic singer I know (not that I am a Celtic music expert) whose entire repertoire is in Gaelic, and I think that alone sets her apart as someone very interesting. Especially since she is not a native Gaelic speaker. She grew up in Canada and spent summers in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) where her family was from. This spurned her interest in Gaelic music, and she learned the language and the music. Fortunately, her voice is also beautiful, and her music is beautiful and interesting too. Almost entirely traditional and traditionally-based, her 2nd (Suas e!) and 3rd (Làn Dùil) albums foray into mixing the traditional with more contemporary, pop elements. (JoAnn Whetsell)

For those of you not familiar with her name, you may have heard her voice on "Sleepy Maggie", the single from Ashley MacIsaac's album Hi! How are you today). She has a lovely voice and sings very traditional (meaning stripped-down rather than rocked-up or New-Aged-up) versions of Gaelic songs from Cape Breton. Highly, highly recommended for those who love more traditional rather than New Agey Celtic music, though the latter might like it, too. Some lively songs, and some poignant ballads. I haven't heard her live, but I really enjoy her discs. If you like this kind of music, I'm sure she'd put on a great show, and hearing that voice live would definitely be an experience. (Neile)

...she has a beautiful voice and sings in that ever-enticing Gaelic. (paul2k@aol.com)

Comments about live performance:

Another entertaining show, especially the rousing thigh-slapping fiddle numbers, including "Sleepy Maggie". Her fiddler, Wendy MacIsaac, lacks the commanding stage presence of her cousin Ashley MacIsaac, but none of the talent. It was an absolute joy to see her play the fiddle. Mary Jane Lamond puts on some pretty good shows. Her songs are entirely in Gaelic, so if lyrics are a big thing with you she might not be for you. She seems to be at her best when singing fast, high-energy songs with Wendy MacIsaac playing blistering fiddle beside her. While fun I wouldn't necessarily classify her as essential ecto listening, but if you're a fan of Celtic music then you should go to Mary Jane Lamond's show. (kamesan@geocities.com)

I put her in the Taos category. That is, I'd drive 3 hours to see her. In fact, I figured this was very likely to be true, so the first time I heard her was when I drove up to Taos to see her last year. Turned out I was right, and I'd gladly do it again. The show was wonderful. She had a full band with an excellent fiddler and a bunch of people that sang backup harmonies. This was the concert highlight for me.
     All I'd ever heard by Mary Jane was her vocals on Ashley MacIsaac's Sleepy Maggie, but this was exactly what I was hoping for—songs in Gaelic, done straight and played with a bit. If the album lives up to the concert, then it would be a decent follow up to Mouth Music's brilliant first album. It didn't sound quite as daring as that, but almost as much fun. She was backed by a 5-person band, and they certainly added to the joy of the evening. Probably the last group I've seen have so much fun was The Nields. Everyone played an integral part, and they all had many chances to shine. Plus, they all felt free to make comments and poke fun at each other, which definitely made the evening. The layering of the voices sounded great, and it was amusing that most of the band (with the exception of excellent fiddler Wendy MacMaster) didn't speek a word of Gaelic but were singing the choruses phonetically. (Hey, that's how I sing along, so I have no problem with that.) If you are at all into Gaelic vocal music, or world music in general, you couldn't go wrong with this show. It's a 2.5 hour drive, but I was definitely happy to have made it. (1998, neal)

Recommended first album:

Bho Thìr Nan Craobh for fans of the traditional and Suas e! for those who liked the traditional mixed with the contemporary.

Recordings:


Bho Thìr Nan Craobh (From the Land of the Trees)

Release info:

1996?—B&R Heritage Enterprises, P.O. Box 3, Iona, Nova Scotia, CANADA BOA 1LO—BRCD0001

Availability:

See Mary Jane Lamond's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Jane Lamond—vocals, traditional vocal arrangements

Guest artists:

Al Bennett—guitar, bass, 6 & 12 string guitars, musical arrangements
Allan Dewar—keyboards, piano fills, piano, musical arrangements
Ashley MacIsaac—piano fills, piano, fiddle
Janet Buchanan, Michelle Smith, Bonnie Thompson, Jeff MacDonald, Brian McCormack—accompanying vocals

Produced by:

Al Bennett; executive producers Brian & Rosemary McCormack

Comments:

This is gorgeous. It's the most traditional of her albums and has a simple, uncluttered feel. Many of the songs are a cappella with a trio of vocalists so they work as a call-and-response sort of thing. Those songs are really neat (and I am not an a cappella lover) and they give a kind of feel for what role this music might have played in the Cape Breton community. These tracks are interspersed with songs with instrumentation, mostly guitar and piano, some fiddle by Ashley MacIsaac. Track 11 has the same melody as part of track 2 of Natalie MacMaster's album In My Hands but treated quite differently. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Excellent traditional folk—lovely, lovely voice. A friend gave this to me as a present, and I was skeptical at first, thinking it would be yet another of those all-too-sweet new age-y Celtic discs (sorry, I'm not a fan of Clannad, Enya, Kate Price, Maire Brennan, etc., etc., etc.). Anyway, it's not like that at all. It's not Celtic rock, or anything, but it's gutsy. Two thumbs up from Neile. (Neile)


Suas e!

Release info:

1997—Turtlemusik/A&M Records (Canada)—09026-63246-2/268 842 000-2

Availability:

See Mary Jane Lamond's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Jane Lamond—vocals, backup vocals on track 8

Guest artists:

James Gray—keys, keyboards
Rachel Melas—bass
Geoff Arsenault—drums
Rob Piltch—acoustic and electric guitars
Philip Strong—guitar, "toob", percussion, "Ebow" guitar
Vicki Quinby—spinning wheel, loom sounds, chorus on track 11
Laurel MacDonald—backup vocals, guitars, bodhran, percussion, chorus on track 10
Anne Bourne—cello
David Woodhead—bass
Scott Long—bagpipes
Stuart Cameron—guitars
Joel Chiasson—keys
Adam Douling—drums
Ashley MacIsaac—fiddle
Ed Woodsworth—bass
Glenn Milchen—drums
Margaret Maclean—lead vocals on track 8
Chin Injeti—bass
Wendy MacIsaac—fiddle
Melody Cameron, Carol Gillis, Benedict MacDonald, Rodney MacDonald, Ian MacDonell, Barbi MacInnes, Joe Rankin, Mairi Rankin—dancers on track 9
Paul K. MacNeil—bagpipes
Janet Buchanan, Frances MacEachern, Leslie McDaniel, Michelle Smith, Bonnie Thompson, Malcolm (Maxie) MacNeil, Neil J. Gillis, Helen & Rod C. MacNeil, Joan & John Gillis, Sadie MacInnes, Linda MacLellan, Meagan Quinby, Marianne Jewell, Rebecca-Lynne, Geoffrey May, Jim Watson, Jamie MacNeil—chorus

Produced by:

Philip Strong and Laurel MacDonald

Comments:

A lot more instrumentation, but still some a cappella tracks and fairly traditional still, although mixing the traditional with more contemporary pop elements. How many songs feature both electric guitars and spinning wheel sounds and make it work? Several songs have these "community sounds" (for lack of a better phrase)—loom and spinning wheel sounds, stepdancing, hand clapping/foot stomping. (JoAnn Whetsell)

A sweet, clear voice singing Gaelic with simple pleasant backing. A little more world-popish than her first album, but the traditional elements are front and centre. Very pleasant listening in one of my rare quieter moods. Highly, highly recommended to you trad music fans out there. (Neile)

So, after a few listens, it doesn't quite pull off the revelations of the first Mouth Music, though it's mighty close and lots of fun. It's kind of funny that they included the Gaelic lyrics, but send you to the web site for the English ones. Anyway, I highly recommend this to anyone who likes Gaelic singing, Celtic music or is just curious. It's certainly on my list of notable album purchases of the year. (neal)

Nice trad stuff, sung in Gaelic. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Làn Dùil

Release info:

1999—Turtlemusik—26884-20042

Availability:

See Mary Jane Lamond's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Jane Lamond—vocals

Guest artists:

Brad Davidge—guitars, electric guitars
Gordie Sampson—guitars
Geoff Arsenault—drums, percussion
Ed Woodsworth—bass
Jevin Gould—accordion
Phil Strong—percussion, guitars, acoustic guitar
Rob Piltch—guitars
Wend MacIsaac—fiddle
John Gzowski—guitars, electric guitars
Ben Grossman—bodhran, bazouki, percussion
David Travers-Smith—trumpet
John Kanakis—bass
Ravi Naimpally—tabla, vocals
Ashley MacIsaac—fiddle
Janet Buchanan, Michelle Smith, Bonnie Thompson—vocals on track 7
David Woodhead—lap steel guitar, fretless bass
Laurel MacDonald—background vocals on track 10
Jeff MacDonald—spoken word on track 10
John MacLean—bagpipes
Children of Braigh Na H-Aighneadh (Dylan MacDonald, Bhriegha MacDonald, Kaitlin MacDonald, Maggie MacDonald, Cassie MacDonald, Kathleen MacDonald, Andrea MacDonald, Scott MacGillvray)—vocals on track 11

Produced by:

Phil Strong

Comments:

The least traditional of her work, but this is another gorgeous album. I've gotten a chance to listen to it a few times now, and I really like it, and I like it more and more each time I listen to it. So rich and gorgeous, the album booklet too. Something in it reminds me of a tapestry, but I can't say just how. And even though it's not "traditional," it doesn't feel "untraditional" either. It's like the music is a living language (which of course music is) and this treatment of it is one stage in its evolution. I don't know how to explain it. But if you liked Suas e! you will like this one. There is one a cappella song at the end similar to the ones on the previous albums, with the same vocalists as chorus and the hand clapping/foot stomping. And the track with the chorus of children is utterly charming. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Òran Ghàidhlig: Gaelic Songs of Cape Breton

Release info:

2000—Turtlemusik—02 50889

Availability:

See Mary Jane Lamond's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Jane Lamond—vocals

Guest artists:

Marianne Jewell—piano, singing
Wendy MacIsaac—fiddle
Paul K. MacNeil—bagpipes
Tracy Dares-MacNeil—piano
Gordie Sampson—guitar
Joe Peter MacLean—fiddle
Janet Buchanan, Michelle Smith, Bonnie Thompson, Jeff MacDonald, Neil John Gillis, Frances MacEachen, Peter MacLean, Rod C. MacNeil, Helen MacNeil, Maxie (Malcolm) MacNeil, Jamie MacNeil, Donald MacDonnell, Jim Watson—singing

Comments:

It is pretty much in the traditional vein. It has a great video included as well. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Stòras

Release info:

2005—Turtlemusik—02-06363

Availability:

See Mary Jane Lamond's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mary Jane Lamond

Guest artists:

Geoff Arsenault—percussion
Chris Corrigan—guitar
Wendy MacIsaac (Beolach)—fiddle
Ed Woodsworth—bass
Mac Morin (Beolach)—piano (7)
Mairi Rankin (Beolach)—fiddle (7)
Patrick Gillis (Beolach)—guitar (7)
Kim Radcliffe—guitar (10)
Blue Engine String Quartet (Margot Aldrich, Anne Simons, Hilary Brown, Jennifer Jones)—strings (1, 3, 9)
Anne Bourne—cello (5)
Ryan MacNeil—bagpipes (5)
Janet Buchanan, Tara Rankin, Michelle Smith, Bonnie Thompson—additional vocals (6, 11)

Produced by:

Philip Strong

Comments:

Mary Jane makes albums that are so easy to listen to, her beautiful voice carrying you from song to song. Stòras has elements of her previous albums—the energy of Suas e!, the production of Làn Dùil, the simplicity of Gaelic Songs. But it seems freer in a way too, and the line between the traditional and the contemporary is drawn even thinner than before. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Mary Jane Lamond's songs appear on the soundtrack to The Hanging Garden and the following compilations: Celtic Colours International Festival: Forgotten Roots, Celtic Colours International Festival: The Road, Celtic Colours International Festival: The Second Wave, Celtic Tides, Brave Hearts: New Scots Music, Celtic Moods, Women of the World: Celtic II, Celtic Collection, and the Moods Box Set. She sang a song called "Sleepy Maggie" on Ashley MacIsaac's album Hi How Are You Today? that also appeared on the Putumyo collection Celtic Women of the World. She also sang on the Chieftain's album Fire In the Kitchen.

Lyric translations are available on her website. She can be reached via e-mail at maryjane@maryjanelamond.com

Mary Jane Lamond is also Music Consultant to Galaxie Music Celtic Channel; Host of the 2001 Nova Scotia Kitchen Party (Syndicated Radio/Internet Program); Composer/Producer of the soundtrack to Sigh and a Wish (NFB documentary on Dr. Helen Creighton); Gaelic Consultant to the 2001 Celtic Colours International Festival and does ongoing Gaelic language workshops and classes.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-03-27 21:27:53.
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