Eileen McGann's traditional CD: HERITAGE
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Eileen's first all-traditional CD,
also released in Britain, Ireland and Europe

on Greentrax Records

Buy it Now: $20


Eileen McGann - Heritage (1997)

Rave reviews are still pouring in...

"One of the top ten international recordings of the year"

"Heritage" is definitely one of the year's ten best albums" "I've not stopped playing this one since it arrived. This lady has a voice to kill for, and what a collection of songs and musicians as well. This one will sell by the van load."
- Mike Ganley, FM107 Gloucestershire, ENGLAND

"These songs serve as perfect vehicle for the sterling voice that has made Eileen a Canadian national treasure.

Past albums featured her prowess as a contemporary songwriter. Eileen is well known as for her songs depicting various aspects of the Canadian experience. Those familiar with McGann's career, will not be surprised by this album. She has blended traditional songs into her concerts, as well as participating in other traditional music projects. Heritage is her way of acknowledging a significant force in her musical life.

It has been more than twenty years since an artist of McGann's talent and standing has seriously taken on the traditional ballad repertoire. It seems the current generation has found a worthy champion for this body of work. With the release of Heritage , Eileen McGann takes her place along side greats June Tabor, Joan Baez, and Judy Collins. "

-Mark Horn, The Mining Company Guide to Folk Music
Traditional Music Maker - [National Roots Magazine, Great Britain] March 1999
Eileen McGann - Heritage Greentrax CD Trax 166

There is lot of great singing coming out of Canada currently. It often has an emphasis on strong direct melody and well crafted harmony. I'm thinking of bands like Tanglefoot and singer-songwriter James Keelaghan, who have both toured over here. Eileen McGann's parents emigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1953 and she began singing the old Irish songs in public when she was in her late teens. She was then introduced to the Fiddlers Green Folk Club, where she became immersed in the traditional songs of Scotland and England, and her repertoire has developed from there. Eileen has a beautiful voice - confident, unmannered and completely at home with her material. This is a refreshing and compelling collection of well chosen, traditional songs. Although her work has been shaped out of the context of the Canadian folk scene, her appeal easily survives the rigours of a trans-Atlantic crossing and carries a warmth and strength and difference that we can enjoy, and dare I say it, learn from! Heritage doesn't set out to be an 'in your face' or a "clever" album. There are no grandiose or opulent arrangements such as you might find for instance emanating from Loreena McKennett's world. Rather, the album presents uncluttered, transparent, well organised settings, which interweave and support her vocal journey through each song.

There is a smooth, flute-like quality to her voice, somewhat reminiscent of our own Chris White. You will find quite a range of themes and emotions explored on this CD, from the simple yet haunting Blackwaterside, which opens the collection, to the lyrical and surprisingly smoochy Girl With a Hole in Her Stocking, [The Beltane] and it's good to hear a fresh version of Little Musgrave that sustained this reviewer's interest through a plenitude of verses. Lowlands is given a sparse yearning soulful treatment which feels just right, and Tae The Begging I Will Go explores a medley of three thematically related versions of this song which developed differently in England and Scotland.

This album conjures up images of times and lives past, the trials and vicissitudes of the human heart, and the joy of retelling old tales in the living present. I loved it. -Phil Bird

"In this impressive album Eileen McGann shows that she, too, can unearth new charm in age-old songs"

The Living Tradition, Britain's national magazine of traditional music, Sept/Oct 1997

EILEEN MCGANN "Heritage" Dragonwing Music- What is it about women singers on the other side of the pond that makes them find something fresh in our traditional songs? Sylvia Herold has the knack and in this impressive album Eileen McGann shows that she, too, can unearth new charm in age-old songs. McGann has a crystal-clear voice with diction to match. Perhaps what sets her apart, though, is her ability to target lyrics intelligently while allowing the rhythm of the verse to look after itself. "The Beltane" is one such, with the chorus, even on its eighth repeat, still fueling new images. Backed by first-class occasional musicians, including the incredible Steafan Hannigan in uilleann pipes, this is a well produced album. Altogether a fine work.

-Fred Redwood 

>The Record, Sep 18/97 - Kitchener, Ontario

Although a gifted songwriter, Calgary based folksinger Eileen McGann is one of Canada's finest interpreters of traditional music.In response to repeated requests from fans, McGann has released an album of traditional songs from Scotland, England and Canada, as well as Ireland, her ancestral home.McGann's porcelain-like soprano and sensitive guitar work feature prominently, but she receives inspired support from a diverse group of some of Canada's best acoustic musicians including Garnet Rogers, Oliver Schroer, George Koller, Loretto Reid, David Woodhead, Grit Laskin and sometime collaborator David K., in addition to all-Britain piping champion Steafan Hannigan.From a beautiful a cappella rendition of Lowlands to the Child Ballad Little Musgrave, this is an album to tickle the fancy of musical purists of all stripes.By Robert Reid

For another on-line review, check out this one from The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange.


Track List

(with Eileen's liner notes:)

Blackwaterside (4:20) 
  • A passionate Irish song which I learned on my last visit to Ireland.
Lowlands (2:53)
  • A rare woman's shanty.
Peggy Gordon (3:35)
  • One of my mother's favorite songs, I've sung this one for as long as I've been singing in public.
My Grief On The Sea*/Cape Clear (3:27) 
  • This Irish song was collected and translated from the Gaelic in the 19th century. Thanks to Professor Anne Dooley for help with this one.
The Rolling of the Stones (4:09)
  • This wonderfully eerie song is related to Child Ballad #49, "The Two Brothers". In the older song it is made clear that it is his own brother who kills the young man at the dance, because he wants pretty Susie for himself. Rolling the stones and tossing the ball are the children's games that the two brothers used to play together until jealousy came between them. 
Faithful Johnny (2:06) 
  • A delightful English song of love and sweet promises. Learned from the singing of Robin and Barry Dransfield.
A Beggin' I Will Go/ Tae the Beggin' I Will Go/ The Little Beggarman (6:07) 
  • A medley of three thematically related pieces; the first two began as the same song and developed, in England and Scotland respectively, into two quite different pieces.
Lord Franklin (3:55) 
  • Canada's Northwest Passage and the many attempts to cross it resulted in countless tales of adventure, endurance and tragedy, but none can match the great saga of Lord Franklin.
Little Musgrave (6:22) 
  • Child Ballad #81. One of my favourites of the old ballads, I learned this one many years ago from Bill Craig. Adultery, betrayal, chase scenes, sex and violence: before there was a "Movie of the Week", there were Child Ballads.
As I Walked Out/Farewell to Erin (4:40) 
  • One of the most delightful refusals in the annals of traditional music. His answer proves her right in every way.
The Beltane* (3:39)
  • Originally found in Roy Palmer's "English Country Songs", this is a wonderful tale of the ancient Celtic spring rite, from the point of view of a couple of young non-participants.
Female Drummer (3:26) 
  • One of my favourite ballads - of a young girl who wasn't going to let such an insignificant thing as gender interfere with her career plans.
There Be More Joy (2:46)
  • Learned from Jeff Warner at the 1992 Calgary Folk Alliance Conference, at the end of a memorable Sunday night jam and sing-around. May we all find more joy and the strength to persevere "'til we find it".

All songs traditional except *: lyrics traditional, music by Eileen McGann/Dragonwing Music

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