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The Ticket - The Irish Times Weekly Guide to Entertainment
Friday April 13 2007


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 Chris Newman

(Old Bridge Music/Proper)

Robin Denselow
Friday January 26, 2007

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 Chris Newman 's guitar, mandolin and bass, fiddle work from her sister Nollaig and virtuoso banjo from American star Cathy Fink .

Saturday 27 January 2007

Fire Wire
(Old Bridge Music/Proper)

If you think that an album of Celtic harp playing sounds worthily dull, you have clearly never heard the music of Chathasaigh.

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 Chris Newman , their bewitching string fantasies are lent rhythmic backbone by unobtrusive but sturdy bass lines and understated percussion. The two songs that she sings in Gaelic reveal that she also possesses a wonderfully clear and expressive voice, which she might have used more.


Daily Telegraph
Saturday 3 February 2007

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."
Kerry Dexter, senior contributing editor, FolkWax.
December 19, 2007

"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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