I’ve seen Wendy MacIsaac perform in numerous capacities over the years — solo, as part of the band Beolach and in various pickup groups during the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton. But the first time I saw her, more than a decade ago, was as a member of Mary Jane Lamond’s backup band at a gig in New York City.
Despite MacIsaac’s various musical endeavors, she’s kept her musical partnership with Lamond strong — and thriving. That’s demonstrated handily with their latest release, Seinn, which was released jointly under both musicians’ names.
It’s a strong partnership still, and Lamond’s role doesn’t suffer from allowing MacIsaac to step forward and share the spotlight. The album is a tidy balance of Gaelic songs (Lamond) and fiddle sets (MacIsaac), and it’s pure pleasure from start to finish.
Lamond adds a bit of accordion to several tracks, and MacIsaac, besides fiddle, plays a little mandolin and piano. This is no duo effort, however; besides the two eponymous performers, the album draws on a large field of talented vocal and instrumental talent — much of it likewise from Cape Breton — including, but by no means limited to, Tim Edey, Patrick Gillis, Corrina Hewat, Fred Lavery, Ashley MacIsaac, Matt MacIsaac, Cathy-Ann MacPhee, David Milligan and Seph Peters. The tracks are a mix of traditional selections, original pieces and covers.
Lamond has a gorgeous voice and an unequaled mastery of the Gaelic tongue. MacIsaac has for years been one of Cape Breton’s strongest and most reliable fiddlers. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with — a long-standing blending of talents that has continued to grow, develop and strengthen through the years … and has never failed to satisfy.