5 Star Review

Curious Things Given Wings
Mad River 1020
* * * * *
Here’s an album that hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves. The Outside Track is Celtic collaboration at its best–an ensemble consisting of Vancouver’s Norah Rendell (vocals, flute), Cape Breton’s Mairi Rankin (fiddle), Scottish harper Aillie Robertson, Limerick-based accordionist Fiona Black, and Irish guitarist/composer Cillian Ó Dálaigh. They dust off some well known sea songs, Celtic ballads, and North American compositions, supplement them with sets of old and new tunes, and make everything sparkle like party lights on a moonless night. Rendell’s vocals are a revelation–pure, strong, and expressive. She can make a pirate song like “The Turkish Revery” sound so appealing that we have to remind ourselves that she’s singing a tragic tale. Hers is the sort of voice that is equally at home with wistful Irish songs such as “Blackbirds and Thrushes,” country-tinged North American material such as “Caroline of Edinburgh Town,” and the bouncy New Brunswick gender-reversal tale “Silvy Silvy.” The tunes are tight, joyous, and some times whimsical. “Swerving for Bunnies” is an example of the latter, a set that’s one-part light jazz swing and another swooping Irish-flavored fiddle delight. This album has a fresh contemporary feel to it many moods, the likes of which we’ve not heard since the demise of The New St. George. It’s hard to choose which impresses more, the topnotch musicianship or the album’s sheer exuberance.

Check out the band’s promo video and then grab the new CD.

Posted by Phoenix Brown & Lars Vigo