AVA – Wildflower (AVVCD001)

WildflowerWildflower by AVA was released in early April. I missed it until recently, which is a shame because the album is sheer delight. AVA is Irish singer/songwriter Éabha McMahon (phonetically: Ava McMan), formerly part of Anuna and then Celtic Woman, respectively an internationally renowned Irish choral group and a globally successful Irish music collective with whom she received her first Grammy nomination.

As a singer/songwriter on her debut album (she wrote one track, ‘Seas Suas’, and co-wrote the other twelve) it’s no surprise that she exhibits the same magnificent vocal for which she was already renowned. It’s a voice capable of haunting beauty, whispering delicacy, beautifully clear phrasing, on songs which have a strong influence of the Irish tradition, and a voice which is just as compelling on the larger sound of tracks such as the rockier upbeat sound of the aptly titled ‘Loud’ and on, say, the rising power to the end of ‘One More Day’.

The songs cover themes which marry together positive reflections on life from content as diverse as family, love, nature, dreams. This is territory which can tip into awkward simplicity. By contrast, Wildflower captures these into a delicate balance of theme, vocal, melody and arrangement/production which pulls it all together superbly.

AVA’s summary, for example, of ‘Tell Me Now’ tells us that the song “was inspired by the idea that no matter how many miles away we are from loved ones, we always share the sky and that keeps us connected. I love the idea that we all share the moon and have done so for thousands of years.” Put this theme into a track which moves from smooth loving strings to sharper tempo jagging as winter arrives and which also a lyric which personalises, “Tell me now are you lonely, so am I” –  and this track, like the rest of the album, hits that sweet spot where you can just keep listening to Wildflower time and again.

Try the title track for yourself in the link below; it was inspired by childhood memories of AVA’s grandmother showing to her dried flowers, preserved in the pages of a book. The song has been written as an image of “the passing of time, the beauty of nature and the love between mother and daughter”.

This album really is rather grand, an optimistic evocation of beauty – of the Irish people, of their landscape, of their musical tradition – celebrated in song by an exquisite voice.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.avaworldmusic.com

‘Wildflowers’ – official video: