An Sessiun (translation: The Session) is the new album from Scottish fiddle player Marie Fielding, in collaboration with a number of players from the Irish and Scottish traditional music scene.
Donogh Hennessy joins her on guitar as well as producing the album, along with Tom Orr on accordion and piano, Trevor Hutchinson on double bass and Jimmy Higgins on percussion. There are excellent standards of musicianship here and some memorable tune-sets, with twelve of the individual tunes on the album composed by Fielding herself.
The album has quite a drinking theme to it, with tracks like Wine O’Clock, Honesty Bar and Lock In. Wine O’Clock is a strong opener and as soon as one starts to listen to this album it vividly conjures up evenings spent in packed bars with good music and good company.
However, as one beautifully-played, lively, Celtic-infused, brisk and breezy fiddle-accordion-guitar tune-set gave way to another, a feeling began to materialise that what this album perhaps needed was a little more light and shade, a little more variety. Fortunately, around half way through the album we start to see that and the pace begins to change.
Lazy Dayz is a lovely slower and more reflective track, written by Fielding, that provides a nice contrast to some of the more lively, though undoubtedly brilliant, tune-sets earlier on. With just guitar from Hennessy accompanying Fielding on this one, it really serves to showcase her fiddle playing. Rhona’s Waltz, again one of Fielding’s compositions, is another beautifully melodic track on the album
Amidst the instrumentals there is one song, the traditional Parting Glass, with guest vocals by Pauline Scanlon. It’s a poignant song on the universally familiar theme of saying farewell to loved ones .“Goodnight and joy be with you all” as the refrain goes. It’s one of the real highlights of the album. Scanlon has a beautiful, authentic voice with a lovely Irish lilt and it is a shame, really, that we don’t get to hear a little more of it on this album.
With possibly one or two more songs added to go with the tune-sets and a slight re-ordering of the track-listing a very good album could perhaps have become an exceptional one. It’s still very much worth a listen, though. An enjoyable album with some talented musicians who really capture the essence of so much Scottish and Irish traditional music.Darren Johnson
Released on Rumford Records August 2015.
1. Wine O’Clock
2. Tony’s Orange Sherbets
3. Honesty Bar
4. The Christmas Eve Waltz
5. McGoldrick’s Return
6. Lazy Dayz
7. Cruise Control
8. Rhona’s Waltz
9. Parting Glass
10. Polly Rhythm
11. Lock In