Concerts-Review - Michel Preumont

http://concerts-review.over-blog.com/article-sarah-mcquaid-the-plum-tree-and-the-rose-104225315.html
Sarah McQuaid – The Plum Tree and The Rose
(English translation appears below French original.)

C’est en 2008, lors d’un concert à Toogenblik à Haren, que tu fais connaissance avec la folksinger, Sarah McQuaid, qui jouit de la double nationalité Américaine et Irlandaise.

A l’époque, elle venait de sortir un second album I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning, qui succédait à When Two Lovers Meet, sorti en 1997. 

Printemps 2012, une troisième plaque à son actif: The Plum Tree and The Rose, produite par le singer/songwriter/guitariste irlandais, Gerry O’Beirne, qu’on retrouve comme musicien e.a. chez Alan Stivell, Luka Bloom, Sharon Shannon et comme producer pour Patrick Street, Fiona Joyce ou Andy M Stewart.

Comme ingénieur du son, Sarah s’octroie les services du bassiste/contrebassiste Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, The Waterboys, Sharon Shannon ...).

Outre ces deux pointures, on note la présence de Bill Blackmore (flugelhorn, trompette) – Rod McVey (claviers) – Rosie Shipley & Máire Breatnach (fiddle) – Noel Eccles & Liam Bradley (percussions) et Niamh Parsons, Tom Barry, Frances Hutchinson, Emer Ní Bhrádaigh pour seconder Sarah aux vocals.

Tous ces musiciens étant des habitués des musiques celtiques traditionnelles.

L’élégante et mélancolique pochette a été dessinée par l’artiste Mary Guinan, déjà responsable de l’artwork des albums précédents de Miss McQuaid.

The Plum Tree and The Rose contient treize titres: nine originals, parfois co-crédité Sarah McQuaid/Gerry O’Beirne, une cover, le formidable ‘Solid Air’ de John Martyn, et trois traditionnels ou ballades élisabéthaines, arrangés par la jolie chanteuse.

La délicate ballade ‘Lift You Up and Let You Fly’ ouvre l’album, le thème de la maman voyant s’envoler le fruit de ses entrailles n’est pas neuf, mais l’alto aux consonances Sandy Denny/June Tabor de Sarah, combiné à la sobre orchestration dominée par le bugle de Bill Blackmore, accroche d’emblée l’auditeur.

Le superbe ‘Hardwick’s Lofty Towers’ te ramène au folk d’inspiration élisabéthaine à la Pentangle, John Renbourn, Fairport Convention ou Maddy Prior.

Le duo trompette/voix jazzy sur ‘Solid Air’, que John Martyn avait composé en hommage à son ami Nick Drake, subjugue tout en te donnant des frissons au bas de l’échine.

Tout comme ‘Hardwick’s Lofty Towers’, ‘Kenilworth’ baigne dans un mystérieux et raffiné climat aux senteurs Tudor.

Le majestueux ‘In Derby Cathedral’ termine la trilogie 16ème siècle en pensant notamment à Bess of Hardwick, enterrée dans la célèbre cathédrale du Derbyshire. Le titre se meurt en polyphonie liturgique. Beau!

Le socialement engagé et, vocalement proche de certaines compositions de Joni Mitchell, ‘The Sun Goes on Rising’ traite, selon les propres dires de Sarah, des “hard economic times we’ve all been going though of late.”

Cadenet, circa 1200, ‘S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada’, chanté en vieil occitan et pour lequel Gerry utilise un tiple ibérique élégant sur fond de bourdon.

Retour en Angleterre, John Dowland, 1597, ‘Can She Excuse My Wrongs’, une chanson courtoise, déjà enregistrée par Elvis Costello ou Sting, que Sarah interprète seule: vocals & guitar. C’est tellement beau que tu ressors le vinyle ‘Tabernakel’ que Jan Akkerman a sorti en 1973.

A peine 60 secondes: ‘New Oysters New’, un canon ostréicole, published in 1609.

‘So Much Rain’ du piano folk avec quelques intonations Janis Ian et ‘What Are We Going To Do’, à la Joni Mitchell à nouveau, hantent le Tin Pan Alley style.

Sarah solo pour le titletrack, ‘The Plum Tree and The Rose’, qui reprend la veine old British (love) folk songs.

Tasteful!

Le canon à six voix ‘In Gratitude I Sing’ clôture de belle manière cet album brillant.

Respect de l’héritage musical anglo-saxon, orchestration subtile et un timbre impeccable: la classe!

Translation below:
It was in 2008, during a concert at Toogenblik in Haren, that this writer first encountered the folk singer Sarah McQuaid, who enjoys dual Irish and American nationality.

At the time, she had just released a second album, I Will not Go Home ’Til Morning , the successor to When Two Lovers Meet , released in 1997.

In the spring 2012 appeared a third album to her credit: The Plum Tree and The Rose, produced by Irish singer/songwriter/guitarist Gerry O’Beirne, already known for his work as a guest musician with Alan Stivell, Luka Bloom, Sharon Shannon and as producer for Patrick Street, Fiona Joyce and Andy M Stewart.

As a sound engineer, Sarah engaged the services of bassist Trevor Hutchinson (Lúnasa, The Waterboys, Sharon Shannon ...).

Alongside these two eminences, we note the presence of Bill Blackmore (flugelhorn, trumpet) – Rod McVey (keyboards) – Rosie Shipley & Máire Breatnach (fiddle) – Noel Eccles & Liam Bradley (percussion) and Niamh Parsons, Tom Barry, Frances Hutchinson, Emer Ní Bhrádaigh guesting with Sarah on vocals.

All these musicians are familiar faces of traditional Celtic music.

The elegant and melancholic cover was designed by artist Mary Guinan, already responsible for the artwork on McQuaid’s previous albums.

The Plum Tree and The Rose contains thirteen tracks: nine originals, sometimes co-credited Sarah McQuaid/Gerry O’Beirne, a cover of the great ‘Solid Air’ by John Martyn, and three traditional Elizabethan ballads arranged by the pretty singer.

The delicate ballad ‘Lift You Up and Let You Fly’ opens the album. The theme of a mother’s watching the fruit of her womb fly away is not new, but Sarah’s alto, evocative of Sandy Denny or June Tabor, combined with the sober orchestration dominated by Bill Blackmore’s flugelhorn, grips the listener immediately.

The superb ‘Hardwick’s Lofty Towers’ recalls the Elizabethan-inspired folk of Pentangle, John Renbourn, Fairport Convention and Maddy Prior.

The duo of trumpet and jazz vocal on ‘Solid Air’, composed by John Martyn in honour of his friend Nick Drake, conquers all, sending chills down your spine.

Like ‘Hardwick’s Lofty Towers’, ‘Kenilworth’ is bathed in a mysterious and refined Tudor-scented atmosphere.

The majestic ‘In Derby Cathedral’ completes this 16th-century trilogy, drawing its inspiration from Bess of Hardwick, buried in the famous cathedral of Derbyshire. The track closes in liturgical polyphony. Beautiful!

Socially engaged, and vocally reminiscent of certain Joni Mitchell compositions, ‘The Sun Goes On Rising’ addresses, in Sarah’s own words, “the hard economic times we’ve all been going though of late.”

Cadenet, circa 1200, ‘S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada’, sung in Old Occitan and on which Gerry uses an elegant Iberian tiple against a background drone.

Back in England, John Dowland, 1597, ‘Can She Excuse My Wrongs’, a courtly love song previously recorded by Elvis Costello and Sting, is given a solo interpretation by Sarah on vocals and guitar. It is so beautiful that you have to go back to the LP Tabernakel released by Jan Akkerman in 1973.

Barely 60 seconds long: ‘New Oysters New’, a canon about oysters, published in 1609.

‘So Much Rain’, on folk piano with some intonations of Janis Ian, and ‘What Are We Going To Do’, once more à la Joni Mitchell, evoke the Tin Pan Alley style.

Sarah solo for the title track, ‘The Plum Tree and The Rose’, which delves once again into the vein of old British (love) folk songs. Tasteful!

The six-part canon ‘In Gratitude I Sing’ closes this brilliant album in beautiful style.

Respect for the Anglo-Saxon musical heritage, subtle orchestration and an impeccable sound: that’s class!