Various Artists - Gaelic Women : Three years in the making and featuring many of Scotland’s most celebrated singers, this landmark album from1999 demonstrates the richness and diversity of the Gaelic song tradition, focusing on womens' part in the creation of its poetry and song. What a treasure-trove of Gaelic talent all represented in one collection! The songs range from traditional to modern in both style and content. There are modern and traditional instruments used to back the tunes, and sometimes no accompaniment at all. There is a Puirt a Beul (mouth music), a hymn-like tune, traditional ballads, and totally new material represented. The voices range from ethereal to earthy, giving the recording a wealth of texture and subtlety.
One of the wonderful treats of this recording is the liner notes, complete with full Gaelic lyrics and their English translations. Gaelic singers can study and sing along with any of the tracks with ease, while English speakers can get the full gist of the stories behind the songs. The information about the tunes and the artists are also given in both Gaelic and English. The result is a wonderful saga of Gaelic singers and song.
Overall, although this is a compilation album, ideal for finding new talent and rediscovering old, it is also an excellent individual work, standing well on its own. Gaelic song by immensely talented Gaelic singers are featured throughout, and playing the recording straight through provides a rambling journey through the timeline of Gaelic vocals. The final track, "Language of the Gael," combines the talents of many of the artists on the album, featuring solo voices on the verses, and a full chorus. Composer Murdo MacFarlane celebrates the Gaelic language in the lyrics, lamenting its slow demise, but maintaining hope that it will live on, if only in voices of singers like these Gaelic Women. Flora MacNeil, Kenna Campbell, Mary Ann Kennedy, Margaret Stewart, Karen Matheson, Ishbel MacAskill, Cairistiona MacInnes, Mairi Morrison, Mary Smith, Anna Murray, MacKenzie, Mairi MacInnes, Catherine-Ann Mac Phee, Anne Lorne Gillies, The Glasgow Gaelic Choir. Instrumental backings provide also some of Scotland's best - Tony McManus (guitar), Malcolm Jones (guitars, accordion), Allan MacDonald (pipes), William Jackson (harp, whistles) and Donald Shaw (keyboards)