Hats off to Mary Knickle. It took her ten years but she finally got her music to disc. It seems that on the way to the studio, life got in the way and over ten years later, she finally made it. The resulting album, Weave, proves that life knows best.
Blessed with what sounds to the untrained ear as a classically trained voice, she takes Weave through a collection of original but traditionally based folk and seafaring songs and somehow makes it work to her advantage. There is no doubt that she is strongly tied to the sea and the land as well, for stories are told. Indeed, the stories are the key to Knickle's music, as they should be. Songs about people and sometimes semi-historical accounts of their life.
Take, for instance, Bride Ship which outlines a lesser of two evils situation for girls chosen as brides for colonists, many falling into lives of slavery and hardship. Presented in a vein of hope, it is much lighter in tone than Knickle may have intended. Still, the tale is nothing short of horrifying in terms of today's world. Tears of the Women is tribute to wives of seamen who spend days awaiting the return of their husbands each time they take to sea. A beautiful ballad, it captures both hope and hopelessness of family at the mercy of the forces of nature.
It is not all so impersonal. Return (Nach il thu—When will you return?) is a musical attachment to the past, or so it seems. More majestic in structure than the other tracks, it lives on harmonies and a fine chorus to push it over the top. Go Into the Shadows sounds like it could have been placed on an early 2nd Chapter of Acts album, the chorus easily translatable as religious or secular depending upon viewpoint. Like the Heather is Knickle's Danny Boy. Sung a cappella, it allows her voice to soar and proves that when she wants she has the chops.
Wild Irish Man is full on ensemble and encapsulates all that is good about this album, for it showcases Knickle in band setting. Masterfully produced, you hear guitarist Don Moore and fiddle player Laurence Stevenson in all their glory. They capitalize on the opportunity and show their Celtic and folk roots with real flare. A note here: Knickle was very emphatic in her press release that her musical relationship with Moore and Stevenson were key to the album being recorded in the first place. They have a magic together, a sound if you will, and on this track, it all comes together.
Mary Knickle has a fine voice, no doubt, but her real forte is songwriting. She has just enough of the traditional folk and Celtic in her songs to make them interesting and yet takes it in her own direction when she feels the need. This is a fine collection of tunes, masterfully produced by Knickles and Georges Hebert. Add Hebert's exceptionally clean recording and the band's topnotch performance and "Weave" easily jumps into the check-it-out category.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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