Thursday, January 19, 2017
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: COLLEEN POWER - RAISED ON THIS
You never quite know what Colleen Power will be up to in St. John's. The names are the best clue: If it's the Colleen Power Band, you'll get her in singer-songwriter mode, but if it's The Sauce, well, that's her punkish group. The Guinness Sisters are her only-on-St. Patrick's Day group with Sherry Ryan, she's made two albums completely in French, and even a kid's bluegrass collection.
Her newest wasn't supposed to be for public consumption, and just started out as an acoustic recording for family and friends. But it turned out so well, she brought in some friends and made it a full release. These are the songs Power grew up with back in Placentia Bay, her favourite Newfoundland. Irish and Celtic songs. They are largely traditional, or from the folk tradition, and Power treats them with care. Some are presented pretty straight, with minimal accompaniment, while others get the basic Newfoundland treatment, with mandolin, bouzouki, mandolin, accordion, etc. The traditional Dark Eyed Sailor gets the biggest production, with rock drums and electric guitar, almost a Fairport Convention style. The best-known number here is Go Lassie Go (often called Wild Mountain Thyme), complete with Rob Brown's haunting pipes.
Also helping out are some of favourite names from the province's trad scene, including Shanneyganock's Mark Hiscock, who does a duet on Molly Brown, the brothers Panting from Rawlins Cross, handling accordion and mandolin, Sherry Ryan on close harmonies, and the godfather, Fergus O'Byrne from Ryan's Fancy joining for Cod Liver Oil.
There's not a bit of fussiness on this record, and that's just perfect. It's the sound of these songs being played for decades in kitchens and halls, for fun, for passing on the culture, for community and family. Power, always a strong singer, doesn't even have to think to fit into these songs, and to hear her call on her richest voice is the highlight of the set. This album is all heart.