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Elegant Disguise
Image © 1999 Crannog 

(16 July 2000) Fronted by Maria Miller, Crannog are a Celtic-crossover band from Scotland that have recently changed their name to Keeba. Their limited edition EP from 1997 was one of the first recordings provided to Musical Discoveries for review. Crannog's latest four track EP, Elegant Disguise (Crannog (UK) CNOG002/99, 1999) was produced with a seven person lineup. Additions since their earlier release include Kerry Barr (fiddle) and Fiona Gunn (fiddle, clarsach, vocals). With the name change to Keeba, further lineup changes have occurred. See the band's website for additional information! Soundbites from Elegant Disguise as well as bits of four live tracks are available there.

It is clear from the outset of this new EP that Crannog have continued to develop their sound. Unique in the way they combine Celtic themes with rock accessibility, Maria Miller continues to the band forward with her stunning lead vocal work. The new artists' inputs are evident with significant enhancements being additional vocal harmonies and an even lusher set of instrumental arrangements. Elegant Disguise includes three all-new tracks and a new version of "The Deepest Pool" which was the title track of their earlier EP. The structure of the EP is very much the same in that it shows three distinct variations of the band's sound.

The pure accessibility of the band's sound is evident in the opening track "Pacific Finance." Vocal harmonies support Maria's lead vocal work while lush and moving instrumental arrangements will hook the most casual listener. True to their Celtic heritage, the track "Mischief" combines 'mouth music' in a similar style to "The Porter Black" with contemporised traditional instrumentals and a soaring vocal part. It is a tremendous crossover track. Vocalise harmonies, powerful percussion passages and electronic instrumentation add to the texture developed within the track.

The everso enjoyable rock tune "The Deepest Pool" has been seriously reworked with additional percussion and thicker electric guitar parts. Here melody and rhythm are perfectly combined with layers of harmony contributing to a Celtic crossover track with pop sensibility—eat your hearts out Corrs! The maturity in Maria's voice is evident in the lead while gentle backing vocals and supporting instrumental arrangements add to the lush texture of the track. The EP concludes with "Into The Fire," an all new moderate paced track with a stunning—in your face—lead vocal part. Fiddles are eminent in the instrumental arrangement and when contrasted with guitar, bass and percussion, contribute to the crossover sound the band develops in the track. Changes in pace within the track are evident and work well. Harmony vocals continue to add texture and with the new fiddle parts contribute most significantly to the evolution of the band's sound.

We were immediately impressed with the latest EP, Elegant Disguise from Crannog. The additional musicians have made a significant impact and the band have continued to grow since their first EP The Deepest Pool. As they continue to search for commercial success with a new name and further lineup changes, we hope that they don't lose the unique formula that began with Crannog. The EP is available from the band's website and is highly recommended to our readers—get your copy immediately! Worth a cross-country — perhaps even trans-atlantic — journey, this latest recording from the group is a must listen!

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