Huffington Post “this album is irresistible” | March 12th 2013

From the Celtic enclave of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where folks go to speak and study Gaelic, singer Mary Jane Lamond and fiddler Wendy MacIsaac have produced Seinn. Individually, they’re leaders of their generation of Cape Breton Gaelic musicians, and their joining forces as a duo was an inspired move; Seinn is one of the best new Celtic albums I’ve heard in years. Lamond’s singing has only gained in power and character since I first heard her in 1996, and MacIsaac’s fiddling is crisp and commanding. The material includes lots of traditional Gaelic songs and fiddle tunes, plus compositions by MacIsaac and other contemporary tunesmiths, all in bright, modern, mostly acoustic arrangements. Add to this guest musicians from the top of the folk and Celtic scenes in Canada, Ireland and Scotland, including Ashley MacIsaac (piano), Corinna Hewatt (harp), and Seph Peters (guitar and banjo), as well as vocals from Moya Brennan, Tríona and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and Catherine-Ann MacPhee, and this album is irresistible to anyone who’s ever danced or grooved to Celtic music.

by Stephen D. Winick, Huffington Post

Cape Breton soul inspires Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac | March 11th 2013

The soul of a land and its inhabitants is a hard thing to put into sound, but Nova Scotia singer Mary Jane Lamond and fiddler Wendy MacIsaac have achieved that with their album Seinn. The hills, glens, coves, and villages of Cape Breton—and the people who live and work there—inspire the musical portrait of the island, which was settled by Gaels from Scotland some 200 years ago.

Seinn presents a series of closely linked musical contrasts. Lamond’s haunting songs in Gaelic alternate with instrumental sets of tunes that cleverly shift their tone between darkness and light, driven by MacIsaac’s fiddle. Songs of joy follow laments, and the stylistic approach is by turns starkly traditional and brightly contemporary.

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Folkworld Reviews Seinn | March 4th 2013

A Cape Breton singer and fiddler duo could be either totally traditional or coolly contemporary. This pair manage both. Mary Jane Lamond is one of the few singers I listen to: she combines a deep understanding of Gaelic song with an energetic and innovative approach which is rare enough even in Canada. She also has a glorious voice, of course. Wendy MacIsaac impressed me with her debut album, fiery and full of celtic spirit: over the years since she has mellowed somewhat, losing the electric guitars and drums, but her fiddle can still stir up the proverbial storm in a tea-dance. Together, Mary Jane and Wendy romp through a repertoire which captures both the culture of Cape Breton and the modern music of their generation. They are aided and abetted by singers from Scotland and Ireland, accompanists from all over, and some well known members of the MacIsaac clan.

Reels and strathspeys, mouth music and mournful songs of unrequited love, slow airs and island anthems: this recording spans the full spectrum of Gaelic music. From the beautiful pure voices on “Rinn Mi Còrr” is Naoi Mile to the musical melting pot of celtic and country “If You Were Mine”, Lamond and MacIsaac weave their way confidently through Scottish and Canadian influences. It’s tasteful, it’s tuneful, and it’s also a tantalising glimpse into the evolutionary process which is reinventing celtic music in maritime Canada. Seinn delivers both a faithful representation of Nova Scotian traditions and a new interpretation of that cherished heritage. Take “Keeping Up with Calum”, a hornpipe or clog dance composed by Wendy in traditional style, kicked firmly into folk-funk territory by her penchant for guitar, bass and drums. Or there’s “Hoireann O Rathill iù O”, a Gaelic song dressed for a night on the town, hot enough to make the mountain mist sizzle. There’s plenty more here, songs and instrumentals in equal parts from Lamond and MacIsaac, but you should really hear it for yourself: there are samples at the mailorder sites linked by Wendy and Mary Jane

by Alex Monaghan, Folkword

The Green Man Reviews Seinn | March 4th 2013

It’s hard to believe that, as I write this, it’s been just over 10 years since I experienced the music of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island in its own environment, at the International Celtic Colours Festival in 2002. I wasn’t then and I’m not now any kind of authority on Celtic music, but I know what moves my soul and my feet. This gorgeous album Seinn by Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac transported me back to the community halls and concert venues, the vibrant autumn landscape, the tart maritime air and the hospitality of Cape Breton.

Lamond, possessed of a silken, supple alto, is one of the premier singers of Scots Gaelic in the world. Wendy MacIsaac, member of one of many prolific musical Cape Breton musical clans, is a fiddler, pianist and step-dancer. Both have won numerous awards and toured internationally. Though Wendy has often supported Mary Jane in her singing, Seinn (pronounced “shane”) is the first project they’ve done as a collaboration.

The album’s 12 songs more or less alternate between tune sets led by Wendy on fiddle and songs by Mary Jane. They are backed by a large cast of supporting musicians, sometimes just one or two at a time and sometimes in larger ensembles. The recording and production are absolutely wonderful, putting the vocals and fiddle of these two up front, sharp and clear; the sound has a bright gloss to it that succeeds in bringing forth the magic of the music without crossing the line into New Age Celtic.

The album’s liner notes are thorough, including an explanation of the provenance and meaning of the tracks, which is helpful in the case of the songs, all of which are in Scots Gaelic. However, Lamond is so adept at portraying the emotions of a song in her delivery that you’ll probably find you understand the feeling quite well, if not the actual words. To pick just two, it’s demonstrated quite well in the second track, “Air a’ Ghille Tha Mo Rùn / It Is the Lad That I Love,” a tender love song with Brad Davidge on guitar and David Milligan on piano, plus some subtle percussion, in addition to MacIsaac’s fiddle; and on the final track, “If You Were Mine,” a more upbeat love song that just brims with strong fiddling, confident singing, propulsive drumming, as you can see in this promotional video for the album, which features scenes from the recording of that song.

Very sly, putting what I consider the strongest track of a very strong list at the very end! Oh, and it kicks into a soaring, danceable trad tune “Drunken Landlady” after the song.

My other favorite tune is “Seudan a’ Chuain / Jewels of the Ocean”, a sweet and melodic waltz led off on low whistle by Matt MacIsaac, doubled by Wendy, and Cathy Porter on accordion; followed by a spry reel MacIsaac learned from Jerry Holland, with Matt on high whistle.

There are some very strong tune sets too, all of which feature MacIsaac’s superb and rapid bowing, which includes lots of triplet sixteenth notes. They include the opener “Yellow Coat,” the “Angus Blaise” suite which has six tunes, three traditional and three by Wendy, and featuring her cousin Ashley MacIsaac on exhuberent piano; “Seudan a’ Chuain / Jewels of the Ocean,” a sweet and melodic waltz led off on low whistle by Matt MacIsaac, doubled by Wendy, with Cathy Porter on accordion; followed by a spry reel learned from Jerry Holland, with Wendy on fiddle and Matt on high whistle; “Keeping Up With Calum,” with a club-like syncopated beat and electric bass guitar, inspired by Wendy’s toddler son; and “Boise Monsters,” two tunes, one by Ryan J. MacNeil and one by Wendy, with Wendy fiddle and foot percussion, and Tim Edey on superb guitar, accordion and bass! And yes, that’s Boise, Idaho. You’ll have to buy the album to get the story behind it.

I see I’ve left off at least one track that really caught my ear (easy to do on a CD so chockfull of great ones). “Hoireann ó Rathill iù ó” is a milling song, what I believe is called a waulking song in Scotland, with a strong backbeat (and some subtle percussion) that suggests the milling sounds. It’s paired with a traditional tune called “Mother’s Delight,” which features some nice almost jazzy improvisational interplay between Wendy’s fiddle and David Milligan on piano.

Really, there’s hardly a less-than-stellar moment on this album. Both Lamond and MacIsaac bring this music forth from deep in their souls, and they and their collaborators bring a great sense of fun and passion to it that comes across at every turn. Highly recommended.

by Gary Whitehouse, The Green Man Review

Mary Jane & Wendy Top 10 Album, Artist, and Single | February 8th 2013

Mary Jane & Wendy are in the Top 10 in Canada for January airplay on Folk DJ playlists in all 3 spots – Album, Artist, and Single for their song “Yellow Coat”.

This information has been compiled by Richard Gillmann. In January, Richard’s lists were based on 13,046 airplays from 147 different DJ’s. Richard compiles monthly surveys of international airplay on the folkdj-l listserve. Archives of these can be found at folkradio.org. Richard’s complete lists can be found on his own website at www.nwfolk.com.

Penguin Eggs Reviews Seinn | January 31st 2013

Some sublime traditional music here from two lights of the Canadian firmament. As such, they can do little wrong and, indeed, Seinn is a treat from start to finish. Fantastic sets of tunes featuring MacIsaac’s astringent Cape Breton fiddling (and mandolin) are interspersed with Lamond’s Gaelic songs. Highlights there are a-pleny: the hypnotic “If You Were Mine,” some very tasty Wendy MacIsaac originals on “Boise Monsters,” and Lamond’s obligatory solo “Rinn Mi Corr Is Naoi Mile” (she does a cappella soooo well). If you’re a fan of any of the many strands of Celtic music, Seinn is absolutely essential.

by Richard Thornley