Back to Reviews

June/July 2003 #106
Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola An Raicín Álainn [self-produced LNC 001] (2002)

This is an extremely engaging and perhaps important album from a young Aran Islands
vocalist who is steeped in the sean-nós tradition, but is definitely into trying new
approaches. The unaccompanied sean-nós numbers certainly communicate deeply, even
to those of us who don’t understand Gaelic. Ní Chonaola’s voice is markedly light and
wispy for a traditional singer, but she utilizes her beautiful vocal quality and very true
sense of pitch to excellent effect. She also uses ornamentation sparingly, so that when
she does, it is that much more effective. Most of the tracks feature a variety of backing
musicians, whose work is understated and strictly supportive despite the face that a cuple
of strong names are present. The language barrier will limit appreciation of the recitation and
one or two other numbers, but her bold use of wordless vocalese and tasteful, occasional
adaptation of other non-traditional elements can only delight listeners who value honest
experimentation in any language or musical idiom. Best of all, even when she’s stretching the
limits, she’s extremely effective on an emotional level. One’s first impression may be of a young
voice still finding her way, but repeated listens make you aware that, to a great extent, she
has already found it. For a debut outing, this is a rare accompaniment. (DB)