March 1998

Mary Jane Lammond - Suas e!
A&M Records 268 842 000-2
Released: 1997

by Bruce Bassett

Musical Performance **1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

[Reviewed on CD]With Suas e! Mary Jane Lammond vocalizes the dust off centuries-old Gaelic songs and serves up a balanced platter of tradition and hip newness.

I have to admit that I prefer to dine from the hip new side. For me, there is an inverse relationship between how traditional-sounding a tune is and my overall enjoyment. Case in point: "Horo Ghoid Thu Nighean" and its slickly mixed vocals, many dynamics and tempo changes, and Gaelic step dancers that bring the sounds of River Dance right into your listening room. I was involved from the opening whisper to the final fading taps of the steppers. Contrast that with "Hi ri him bo," which is a somber tune with Mary Jane’s voice accompanied only by the measured tapping of her foot, during which my interest ebbed and flowed.

One certainty exists with Suas e!, regardless of whether or not the songs are more traditional or funky-cool, and that is Mary Jane’s voice, which is nothing if not impressive. She has a smooth, lucid vocal delivery that is both ethereal and hauntingly beautiful at the same time.

Mary Jane Lammond skillfully interweaves traditional Gaelic songs with rock, pop and industrial sounds, creating a fine artistic work that is richly interesting and thoroughly enjoyable.