(updated 25 November 2003) Méav Ni Mhaolchatha gained international attention as a featured soloist with Anúna, the Celtic choral group who performed in the London and US productions of Riverdance. Anúna are well known for the soprano vocalists they have produced over the years—another is Eimear Quinn (feature, interview) who won Eurovision with "The Voice" in 1996. Read our September 2002 interview with Méav for further insight into the artist's background and the making of her latest album Silver Sea. The album was originally reviewed here 28 September 2002.
With territories of release rapidly expanding, her second album Silver Sea (Celtic Collections Ltd (Ireland) CCCD 285, 2002) continues to reveal an effortless mastery of Celtic and classical pieces, traditional songs and early music. Méav's crystalline soprano voice is perfectly accompanied by simple instrumental arrangements. The album's repertoire consists of thirteen short and relatively well-known compositions. Details are presented on the artist's website.
Méav is joined by a veritable bevy of guest artists on Silver Sea whose tracks share a common theme of the open water and seaside. The album, engineered by Brian Masterson was co-produced by Máire Breatnach who also contributed violin and viola to a handful of the tracks. David Agnew--from Méav's first album appears again playing a stunning oboe part on the opening track "You Brought me Up," sung exquisitely over a light piano arrangement.
Co-written by Méav and Conor O'Reilly, "The Wicked Sister" continues the album's theme in this new song based on the text of "Two Sisters" from the Child Ballad Collection. The bodhran percussion part perfectly compliments the strings and Méav's voice. The depth of the string arrangements increase in "Morning In Béarra," a tune sometimes ascribed to Rory dall O Cahan, the anchient harper of the chieftan Hugh O'Neill. Written by Méav, to words by William Shakespeare, "Full Fathom Five" is a lovely and gentle multi-layered, round-style, vocal piece primarily accompanied by harp.
Méav demonstrates her crystalline voice and lyrical versatility alternating between Gaelic and English in "The Waves Of Tory." The song blends into the lightly arranged choral number Méav arranged entitled "A Maid In Bedlam." We especially enjoyed "The Cradles," another lightly arranged tune, this time delicately sung--spanning Méav's wide vocal range--in French with harp accompaniment. The "Newry Boat Song" is a Gallic lament song that Méav sings accompanied only by male choir.
Very clearly THE standout track of the album for our editors is Méav's rendition of the All About Eve tune "Martha's Harbour." The ballad was a top ten hit in 1988 and Méav recalls sitting up and taking notice that Top Of The Pops was featuring what sounded to her like a folk song. Her version with soft crystalline vocal work accompanied by acoustic guitars is absolutely superb.
"The Dark Haired Girl" is an upbeat folk number similar in style to a Scottish walking song with male choral elements contrasting lovely layers of the lead singer's voice; a robust whistle and fiddle bridge is rhthmically supported by bodhran. Méav's moody a capella performance of "Port Na Bpucaí" is a tremendous testament to the range and versatility of her stunning talent and is effectively contrasted by Colm Ó Snodaigh's low whistle parts within the number.
Rich string and woodwind arrangements in "Silent O Moyle" provide the effective backdrop for Méav's powerful vocal lead of this traditional Irish air. Segments of vocalise and lovely arrangements are a further tribute to the artist's talent. The album concludes with another standout track entitled "Youkali Tango," which perfectly combines French (and English) lyrics with Kurt Weil's robust tango-style and period instrumental arrangement. Listeners will delight with Méav's evocative vocal delivery.
Although the album is presently not available domestically (USA) through amazon.com, visitors are encouraged to read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.co.uk here. Just like her debut album, this recording of crystalline vocal tunes illustrates the depth and range of Méav's vocal talent.