Newspaper and magazine reviews
The Ticket - The Irish Times Weekly Guide to Entertainment
Friday April 13 2007
MÁIRE NÍ CHATHASAIGH & CHRIS NEWMAN Firewire Old Bridge Music
Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman's Firewire takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music by the scruff of the neck, bends it, stretches it and breathes a fire into its belly. Newman colours and shades where Ní Chathasaigh forges pathways less travelled. The opening trio of tunes is headlined by Pheasant Feathers and bookended by Bright Falls the Air, one of Chris's originals, that doesn't so much marry as indelibly meld harp and guitar. The pair's hospitality roams free on Big Sciota, with Cathy Fink's banjo making a surprisingly subtle compadre to Ní Chathasaigh's harp. Ní Chathasaigh's sister Nollaig Casey guests with her trademark finesse on a Cuban-heeled The Lost Summer, and while Máire's spare vocals are less convincing, Firewire is a complex world that straddles traditions with grace and just a tincture of danger. Siobhan Long
|Maire Ni Chathasaigh and
(Old Bridge Music/Proper)
Joanna Newsom may be the highest-profile harp player in the world right now, but when it comes to virtuoso work on this ancient and delicate instrument, the Irish player Maire Ni Chathasaigh is in a class of her own. Many of the best tracks here are jigs or airs that date back to the 17th century, played with delicacy, verve and a lightness of touch that should strengthen her reputation among a mainstream audience, not just folk purists, for she is certainly not just a traditionalist. There are echoes of anything from jazz to bluegrass, with the harp matched against
Saturday 27 January 2007
If you think that an album of Celtic harp
playing sounds worthily dull, you have clearly never heard the music of
Although her playing remains rooted in
Irish traditional music, there is an eclecticism and spirit of adventure
here that is quite thrilling. One minute she is skipping with carefree
abandon through a spritely dance tune, the next she is sailing serenely
through ethereal Celtic mists.
Augmented throughout by the virtuoso
acoustic guitar, mandolin and bazouki of
|Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman
Chris Newman is probably used to suggestions that his best works have been accomplished since he collected a silver disc, but precious little else, for producing and co-writing Fred Wedlock's 1979 novelty hit, The Oldest Swinger in Town.
With Máire Ní Chathasaigh, a scholarly Irish musician, he has applied his dazzling virtuosity and wizard-like studio skills to a procession of exceptional albums based principally on their harp-guitar pairing.
Ní Chathasaigh naturally seizes centre-stage, weaving busy patterns on harp strings to such delightful effect that the occasional song, however exquisitely delivered, seems to intrude.
But Newman's contributions must not be underestimated. The speed and complexity of his guitar-playing is to be marvelled at, and an original composition, The Lost Summer, ruing long hours spent locked in recording studios when glorious sunshine beckoned the musicians outside, introduces welcome levity into worthy surroundings. Colin Randall
|Froots, March 2007|
|Songlines, March/April 2007|
|Rock'n'Reel March 2007|
“Stunning... The solo harp number, ‘An Buachallin Ban’, is heart-wrenching, and the way in which Ni Chathasaigh hangs on the notes lends them fantastic poignancy and emotional depth...Newman’s guitar on ‘Bright Falls the Air’ is sublime” The Fly, December 2006
"A gorgeously coherent entity comprised of elegantly plucked and strummed strings" Hot Press: 30 May, 2007
"Maire ni Chathasaigh (pronounced Moira nee Ha-ha-sig, in case you're not up on your Irish) is one of the best known and most honored of Irish harp players. But if your idea of the harp is along the lines of ethereal and angelic, think again. Precise she is, stuffy and ethereal she's not. She and guitarist/bouzouki/mandolin player Chris Newman have been having musical conversations over several albums now, and the results are always worth the listen.
Firewire is a lovely
circle of tunes (and the occasional song) this time out, with Irish and
Scots material along with original music as well. Of the traditional
pieces, the set of "John Potts' Jig/O'Callaghan's Jig" is very
fine, as is the air "Molly St. George," with ni Chathasaigh on
harp and Nolliag Casey on fiddle. Newman's tune, "The Lost
Summer," and ni Chathasaigh's pieces "Bright Falls the Air"
and "Reel for a Water Diviner" are also especially worth the
listening. The tracks are mostly just ni Chathasaigh and Newman, but in
addition to Casey, Roy Whyke adds percussion now and again and Cathy Fink
sits in with banjo on a track."
"FireWire is the sixth release from harp and guitar duo Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman, and sports the added benefit of such guests as Nollaig Casey (fiddle), Cathy FInk (banjo) and Roy Whyke (drums and percussion). There is a lovely, lyrical mix of gentle tunes such as Ginny's Waltz, Molly St George and The Lost Summer, which has an almost Mexican feel. Other surprises abound, as in the rousing opener Pheasant Feathers and the positively jubilant closer Reel for a Water Diviner. Newman is a real treasure of a string player, adding tasteful fills and gorgeously complex coloring with guitars, mandolins and fretless bass. Ní Chathasaigh is a flawless harpist with a fine rich tone. This is a fine album by two top-notch players and has much to discover and treasure." Dirty Linen, August/September 2007
FireWire was one of the CDs of the Year 2007 on Radio Cernusco Stereo, Italy
|Taplas March 2007|
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