(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 continuedto develop their sound. Unique in the way they combine Celtic themes withrock accessibility, Maria Miller continues to the band forward withher stunning lead vocal work. The new artists' inputs are evident withsignificant enhancements being additional vocal harmonies and an even lusher set of instrumental arrangements. Elegant Disguise includesthree all-new tracks and a new version of "The Deepest Pool" which was thetitle track of their earlier EP. The structure of the EP is very muchthe 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 openingtrack "Pacific Finance." Vocal harmonies support Maria's lead vocal workwhile lush and moving instrumental arrangements will hook the most casuallistener. True to their Celtic heritage, the track "Mischief" combines'mouth music' in a similar style to "The Porter Black" with contemporisedtraditional instrumentals and a soaring vocal part. It is a tremendouscrossover 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 seriouslyreworked with additional percussion and thicker electric guitar parts.Here melody and rhythm are perfectly combined with layers of harmonycontributing to a Celtic crossover track with pop sensibility—eat yourhearts 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 vocalpart. Fiddles are eminent in the instrumental arrangement and whencontrasted with guitar, bass and percussion, contribute to the crossover sound the band develops in the track. Changes in pace within the trackare 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 newname and further lineup changes, we hope that they don't lose the uniqueformula that began with Crannog. The EP is available from the band'swebsite and is highlyrecommended 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!