Album reviews in Irish Music Magazine and FATEA magazine

Album reviews in Irish Music Magazine and FATEA magazine

‘Sheear’ received some lovely reviews this month from Aidan O’Hara – Irish Music Magazine and Neil King at FATEA Magazine. I have posted the full reviews below (though you can also access the FATEA review online here).

FATEA review:

One of the many things I love about music is its capacity to keep cultures, traditions and even languages alive. Over the years I had numerous cds arrive in the office recorded in languages that I could not only not understand, but prior to getting the cd, I can’t recall ever having heard spoken in the flesh. Often one of the beauties about such cds is being able to feel the language whilst not being distracted by the words.

Some languages, particularly the Celtic ones have a poetic beauty in the way the words run together and when songs are delivered by a particularly expressive singer, you can feel both the emotion and the poetry. Ruth Keggin is just such a singer and her new album, “Sheear” is delivered in Manx, not so coincidently where Ruth hails from.

One of the things that I really like about “Sheear” is that it’s not just an album of traditional tracks, the album features new tracks, such as “She ‘neen aeg mish as aalin” that are being written in Manx and giving strength to the canon. There are actually a couple of songs on the album performed in English as well.

I first ran through the album without reference to the accompanying booklet and rapidly came top the conclusion that not only does Ruth Keggin have a voice that has been touched by golden honey, it has also been touched by fire and brimstone, to give a delightful range of shades.

I then tracked the album through whilst following the booklet, which though I didn’t get the words right, I was delighted that my interpretations of Keggin’s singing around the thrust of the songs was bang on, for which all the credit goes to the singer.

“Sheear” is a beautiful album, full of character and an absolute pleasure to listen to. Ruth Keggin is an artist that I find a total joy to listen to and should she hop on a plane and head towards the south coast, I would love to see her live. In the meantime, I’ll lose myself in “Sheear” and recommend you do the same.

Neil King

Irish Music Magazine review: 

Ruth is Manx Gaelic singer and passionate about bringing Manx music and language to a wider audience. Sheear (‘Westward’) is her debut solo album and features traditional and contemporary Manx Gaelic songs. The release of the CD in February 2014 was followed by a mini Irish tour which she shared with the Scottish Gaelic group Dàimh.

Ruth’s singing and her songs are easy on the ear and she is blessed with a true and most appealing voice. People interested in Gaelic song may tend to concentrate on Irish and Scottish sources, but if they do, they will miss the many delights and surprises awaiting them in the Isle of Man heritage of songs. Ruth has made a most interesting selection of traditional Manx Gaelic songs and some new compositions, as well.

She starts with Fin as Oshin (Fionn agus Oisín) about which she says, “The words of this song purportedly date back to the late 18th century; it is thought to the ‘oldest ballad in Manx history’.” That’s followed by Colin Jerry’s Manx Gaelic translation of Pádraic Colum’s She Moved Through the Fair. English language translations are supplied with all the Gaelic songs. There are two songs in English: Holdfast, a poem by Ruth’s cousin, Breesha Maddrell, set to music by Stef Conner, the other, the Irish song, The Road to Clady, which she got from the Belfast group Craobh Rua; two contrasting but appealing performances.

Ruth does equally well with the Manx religious song, Oikan ayns Bethlehem that translates, Baby in Bethlehem, and in spite of the unusual phonetic rendering of the Manx language, Scots and Irish Gaelic speakers will immediately recognise the words. She is well served by her fellow musicians, David Pearce (guitar), Vanessa McWilliams (double bass), Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (flute & vocals), and Tomas Callister (fiddle & banjo).

Aidan O’Hara