Music Road: Sounds of Cape Breton | June 11th 2013

Cape Breton, on the far north coast of the Maritimes in Canada, is a land of forest and sea, woodland and mountain, winding road and fishing port. It is also a land where many emigrants, especially those from Scotland, have found harbour. It is a place where the language, music, and culture of Scotland thrive and flourish and intertwine with landscape and in community with other peoples who have made Cape Breton home. All of these things make their way into the sounds of Cape Breton.

“I was drawn to the language first,” says Mary Jane Lamond. “My grandparents were Gaelic speakers so I was always interested in the language and the song tradition, and began spending time with people who were interested in songs. It became a passion for me, and I think I really found my voice when I started singing Gaelic songs.” Lamond has carried that passion and understanding of Gaelic music across Canada and the world and back to Scotland as well with her appearances at concerts and festivals, as she has become one of the most renown artists of Gaelic song.

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Trad Music in the Echo | May 24th 2013

In other recent news, Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac album “Seinn” is destined to be a real crowd pleaser. From its stellar music and songs to its lush production, this is a fantastic and very enjoyable album that will not only appeal to fans of Scottish or Cape Breton music, but to anyone who loves great acoustic music.

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207 Portland, MA features the music of Mary Jane and Wendy | May 2nd 2013

Living Tradition Reviews Seinn | April 8th 2013

The Nova Scotians’ links with their Scottish and particularly their Gaelic heritages have always been strong, and this sparkling CD shows that there is no danger of that connection being broken.

Mary Jane Lamond has a warm and rich singing voice with some of the clearest diction you could hope to find. Although she was a student of Celtic Studies, her approach to her material is not that of a dusty academic, but rather that of a storyteller who is passionate about the material she sings, and who wants to get that story over to her listeners. This she easily and effortlessly achieves as her voice not only carries all the subtleties of the tunes, but also gets to the core spirit of the message.

Wendy MacIsaac is a fiddle and mandolin player and pianist of distinction, who (like so many from that airt) can combine all this with step-dancing, too. Her playing is as clear and crisp as the frost on a Cape Breton winter’s morning, but with a warmth and depth of subtlety. She can turn her hand to hard driving reels just as much as to hauntingly lyrical slow airs.

Here, the two friends combine seamlessly, along with a vast array of guest musicians, to give a fusion of arrangements and presentation which shows their appreciation of each others’ approach to their music and their utter harmony with their traditions.

The full Gaelic song texts are printed in the liner notes, and the whole production standards are of the highest quality, making this an essential purchase.

by Gordon Potter, Living Tradition

Splinters & Candy Review Seinn | April 8th 2013

If you listen to Splinters & Candy on WVKR, then you’ve heard me play some tracks from Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac’s latest release, Seinn. The duo have put together a terrific acoustic Celtic album from the shores of Cape Breton. Mary Jane Lamond is an accomplished singer with a deep appreciation for Scottish Gaelic traditions. Wendy MacIsaac is highly regarded for her fiddle and piano playing as well as her step dancing. The pair have been impressing audiences worldwide for over two decades. Their comradery shines on Seinn, a record that deserves a lot of attention for being a fresh, yet timeless traditional Celtic release.

The musicianship on Seinn is outstanding. Mary Jane and Wendy sound like they have been playing together since they were children. From the rollicking “Yellow Coat” to the reflective “If You Were Mine,” Mary Jane and Wendy take you on a journey through the history of Cape Breton where the heritage of the Highland settlers has been kept alive by the passing down of music, songs and stories over the years. While this is a traditional release that doesn’t mean it sounds like something you’ve heard before. Some songs may have been chosen from existing repertoires, but they’ve never been performed quite like this.

Full of passion and energy, these tunes come to life in a way that is inspiring. When I hear cuts like “Keeping Up With Calum” or “Angus Blaise,” I can’t help but feel my pulse quicken as my foot starts to tap automatically. This music is full of heart and you can hear what it means to Mary Jane and Wendy on every track. Wendy’s fiddling is tremendous and she also plays mandolin and some piano on the album. Mary Jane’s voice is in top form, singing in Gaelic throughout the record. She also plays accordion on a few tracks. There are plenty of guests on this CD but a special mention should go to Seph Peters whose driving guitar and banjo provides the perfect foundation for Mary Jane and Wendy to build their harmonies on top of.

Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac are preservers of tradition who are keeping roots music alive while interpreting the music in their own way. Listen to “Yellow Coat” and take a look at a great video the duo put together to celebrate the release of Seinn. Ask for the CD at your local record store or check it out at bandcamp and keep an eye on Mary Jane and Wendy’s live dates to see where they will be performing next.

by Alex Brown, Splinters & Candy

25 Years Later & Cape Breton is Still Winning at Music | March 14th 2013

This is an excerpt from “The Way I See It”, a theatre/music blog written by Amanda Campbell:

As an East Coaster you grow up knowing that there is an exorbitant amount of musical talent that is saturated on our shores. It is something that I think we all take a little for granted sometimes. “Of course there is going to be live music at the pub and of course it is likely going to be lovely and of course the guy who plays the keyboards for *insert ECMA winner here* and *insert ECMA winner here* also writes beautiful songs of his own and of course the girl who plays the fiddle also plays the piano and also plays the guitar and of course her brother plays the bagpipes, obvious. And of course there is going to be a jam session in the kitchen of that party you are going to and of course everyone will be clapping on beats two and four and of course everyone knows someone who has dropped a record or is working on one and of course it’s going to be incredible and will likely somewhere, somehow reference the ocean in some quaint, wistful way, because we’re from the East Coast where these things are in our blood.” In my experience, it was only when I moved far away from home that I realized how truly remarkable and special our musical canon and our musical culture is. It is something to be celebrated and relished in unabashedly and so it was wonderful to be able to do just that at two events at the East Coast Music Awards this weekend.

The first event I attended was specifically a celebration of Cape Breton, arguably the Mecca of East Coast Musical Exports, which was at the Marquee Club on Friday evening. Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac performed some tunes from their new record Seinn, although the audience was a little rowdy and it was challenging to appreciate the gorgeous arc of the Gaelic lyrics in Lamond’s deft command of the language, but the accordion, guitar and fiddle playing were jaunty and masterful and floated magically above the din of the crowd. I can’t recommend this record enough, MacIsaac’s fiddling is so sweet and rich with emotion, which beautifully matches Lamond’s crisp diction and warm vocals that effortlessly capture and communicate the essence of these folk songs giving them an immediacy, a contemporary energy and infectious spirit that transcends the language barrier and anchors them deeply into the audience’s heart.

Check out more of her blog at www.twisitheatreblog.com.