MAIREARAD & ANNA – Farran (Shouty Records SHOUTYCD04)

FarranFarran is the Scots word for the starboard side of a boat and is also Mairearad Green and Anna Massie’s fourth album as a duo. It’s a stripped back album recorded by Andrea Gobbi and co-produced by Calum MacCrimmon of Breabach, recorded off the floor with accordion, pipes, fiddle, guitar and Anna’s voice on one track.

The album kicks off at a pace with three pipe tunes by Mairearad’s teacher, P/M Norman Gillies, followed by ‘Wee McGhee’s’ which starts deceptively slowly but builds up speed as Mairearad starts to slip the triples in. It’s a really nice set as is ‘The Merton Set’ with Anna’s “peal of bells’ figure on the guitar’s bass notes on her own tune, ‘Laura Drummond’ Slip Jig’. It also lets the listener get some breath back for a while, although the third tune in the set, Mairearad’s ‘Emma And Ali’s Wedding’ picks up the pace again.

Up next is the only song, ‘Molly May’ – check out the cover – by Canadian singer-songwriter J.P. (John Paul) Cormier and given its country of origin and subject matter I don’t need to tell you who it puts me in mind of. It’s set in Nova Scotia, by the way, and I like it a lot. Then we have another pacy set, ‘Jamie’s’, followed by a chance for Anna to show off on guitar with a set of more reflective tunes, ‘Rachel Newton’s ‘The Eggshell Brewery’ and  Ian Henderson’s ‘Trip To Austin’ – I have a romantic notion of someone playing the latter as the boats come in to port but don’t ask me why.

‘Willie Macrea Of Ullapool’, another tune by P/M Gillies, sees Anna switch to fiddle playing in the style of a slow march before Mairearad joins in. There’s a traditional set before the album closes with a beautiful fiddle tune, ‘Mo Chailean – Dileas Donn’, written by Hector Mackenzie, an Ullapool fisherman.

Farran seems a little short but there is no doubt that Mairearad and Anna have produced another fine album.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: https://www.mairearadandanna.com/

‘Polkas’ from Summer Isle Festival:

Mairearad and Anna announce their new album

Mairearad And Anna

Given that Mairearad grew up by Achnahaird bay and is now living by the sea in Ullapool and Anna is from the village of Fortrose by the Moray Firth, it is not surprising that there is a marine themed title and cover illustration for this duo’s fourth album. The album is called Farran which is the Scots word for the starboard side of a boat and the beautiful marine illustrations for the cover design are by illustrator and mural artist, Chelsea Frew from Glasgow. (chelseafrew.com)

The concept for this duo’s fourth album is to represent exactly what this virtuosic duo perform live. It is the stripped back sound of vocals, guitar, accordion, fiddle and bagpipes and it was recorded live at Gloworm studio in Glasgow with co-producer, Calum MacCrimmon from the band, ‘Breabach’. The material includes the JP Cormier song about a boat, ‘Molly May’ and a haunting fiddle number ‘Mo Chailin – Dileas Donn’ written by Ullapool fisherman, Hector Mackenzie. Also on the album, there’s a foot stomping set of local reels written by Mairearad’s piping teacher, PM Norman Gillies, and many other great tunes, notably, some self penned compositions which is a staple for this pair’s music.

Mairearad says, “Moving back up North and living by the sea in Ullapool definitely slows you down! This has allowed more time to discover some fantastic local tunes that we are delighted to include on this album.”

The duo will be touring the album in the UK in November 2018.

Artists’ website: https://www.mairearadandanna.com/

‘Musical Flowers’: