Late last month, I saw a notice flit across our Twitter feed about a new album from a Celtic-style band based in Saskatchewan called “West of Mabou.” Curious, I searched for it on Spotify – and darned if I can’t stop listening to it.
My better half, who comes from the United Kingdom, originally introduced me to Celtic-style pop through such groups as The Corrs, and I was also entranced by the sounds of a ceilidh band playing at a friend’s wedding in a Scottish castle (although we failed utterly at the dancing). I was thus well primed to enjoy this album – and what a fabulous one it is.
The album kicks off with the uptempo “Rannie MacLellan,” which combines great fiddle playing with a seductive, almost hiphop percussion, and adds danceable pipes. Throughout such highlights as “Asleep at the Wheel” and “Hornpipes” the group successfully combines traditional Celtic sounds with a very modern sensibility, making the music both beguiling and accessible. (I would be surprised if anyone can stay seated when they play live!)
Occasionally, Celtic music – which often begins with a basic musical theme and develops it both through variations on the theme and soloing by different instruments – can seem a bit repetitive, but West of Mabou never fall prey to that malady. Each tune keeps the listener’s interest throughout, and the musicianship of all five members is impressive.
We posted last month about some of the great music coming out of Saskatchewan; this is one more group to add to that growing list. If you enjoy traditional music delivered with an occasional modern twist – and don’t mind the temptation to chair dance when you’re listening to this at work – this album is highly recommended. Hopefully West of Mabou will tour in the near future somewhere closer to us than Saskatchewan as I very much want to hear them live!
PS – West of Mabou, you had me from the first track – but the bagpipes on the closing piece, “The Mist Covered Mountains of Home,” sealed the deal.
Visit West of Mabou’s website.