It is with a great sense of honour that I find myself sitting down to review this wonderful album of slow airs by Fíodhna Gardiner. Of course it is indeed such a unique occurrence in the modern world of traditional music that an album consisting totally of airs comes to the fore, and this alone is a very welcome innovation. The Gardiner name is synonymous with traditional music through the legendary Bobby Gardiner, one of Ireland’s finest ever button accordion players, so it is no surprise that the musical pedigree continues to be manifest across the generations.
Coming from a background of traditional song in both the English and Irish languages, where interpretation of such lyrics is paramount to the performance and appreciation of these most powerful melodies, I feel that the renditions performed by Fíodhna on this album are true to every essential component that such pieces require.
On a personal level, Track Two ‘Easter Snow’ and Track Ten ‘The Banks of Sullane’ stand out to me as highlights from this most beautiful collection of airs that will be forever cherished because of sensitive recordings like this one. It is important to point out at this stage that Fíodhna’s musical collaborators deserve serious mention for their magical contributions – the stunning vocals of Cathy Jordan, coupled with the wizardly accordion tones of Martín O’Connor, and of course those of her own father Bobby, augment this recording in the most appropriate way imaginable. The accompaniment throughout remains exactly what it should be, allowing the powerful melodies to take their rightful place center-stage, as one would expect from such a stellar collection of musicians: Garry O’Briain, Liam Kelly, Seamie O’Dowd, Cathy Jordan, Bobby Gardiner and Mairtin O’ Connor. In my opinion, the stewardship of Seamie O’ Dowd as producer is the perfect catalyst in reaching recording utopia.
I wish this album and Fíodhna herself all the very best for the future and congratulate her once again on catapulting these most powerful airs to their rightful place, in gaining recognition up there with the more commonly played dance tunes.
(Fergal Ó Murchú, FOM Productions; Ragus Producer: www.ragus.ie/vidaud.asp)