Judith Weikle ~ Pirates, Poets and Patriots
Date: Sunday, May 03, 2009 @ 12:29:25 UTC

Artist: Judith Weikle

CD: Pirates, Poets and Patriots

Home: Jackson, Wyoming

Style: Celtic / Folk

Quote: "Ethereal and sometimes mournful, as good Celtic music should be, with a couple of lively drinking songs thrown in for good measure."

By Jamie Anderson

Celtic music from Wyoming? Well, why not? Weikle’s clear soprano is convincing because she draws from her Irish, Scottish and Appalachian heritage. It doesn’t hurt that she’s got a wonderful band of violin, bodhran, guitar, hammered dulcimer, cello and more. The music is ethereal and sometimes mournful, as good Celtic music should be, with a couple of lively drinking songs thrown in for good measure.

She sounds a bit like Loreena McKennitt and covers "Bonny Portmore," a song I know from McKennitt. It’s more faithful to an Irish style than McKennitt’s more "world beat" sound. It’s a sad tune, beautifully done, about the loss of a great oak tree in Northern Ireland.

Another tragic story is "Blackbird of Avondale," about Charles Stewart Parnell, one of Ireland’s most adored patriots. It ends with a moving plea for Ireland to be free.

"Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair" is wonderfully arranged with a cello playing a gorgeous low counterpoint to her high vocals. She’s changed "Farewell to Tarwathie" to make it sound more like a sea shanty. It serves to move the melody along well, a welcome change in this collection of mostly ballads.

Some of the songs are in Gaelic and while they’re lovely, it would’ve been nice to have a translation either in the liner notes or on her website, especially for "Rakes of Kildare." (How I’d love to know more about the 16th century pirate queen she sings about.) In fact, it’d be great to have that on the English language songs too so that we could really absorb the whole story. What I do appreciate in the liner notes are the brief descriptions of each song.

The percussion in the "Wine of the Gauls/Man of the House" medley makes me want to put on my dancing shoes. There’s some fine instrumental work on this one, particularly where Kate MacLeod’s violin plays in tandem with what I think is Dylan Schorer’s bouzouki.

The disc concludes with another mournful ballad, "Quiet Land of Erin." A piano figures prominently, making it stand out from the other songs that are mostly carried by stringed instruments. It so clearly paints a heartbreaking picture of someone missing their home in Ireland. A tune like this could easily be maudlin but Weikle makes it very moving.

As I was writing this, my partner called from the other room, "I hope you’re keeping that disc." Indeed, I am. If you love traditional Celtic music, this needs to be in your collection too. If you don’t know it, this is a great introduction.

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