Meave Gilchrist | Song of Delight

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Folk: Folk-Jazz Folk: Celtic Fusion Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Song of Delight

by Meave Gilchrist

Boston-Based Singer/Songwriter and Harpist Offers Distinctive Fusion of Folk and Jazz Produced by Violin Virtuoso Darol Anger.
Genre: Folk: Folk-Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Song of Delight
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4:24 album only
2. Jonathan
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6:41 album only
3. Take Off Your Coat
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2:49 album only
4. Legend of the Ear
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4:57 album only
5. Automne
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5:40 album only
6. Gloomy Morning Me
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3:33 album only
7. Brown Bricks
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4:04 album only
8. The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow
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5:55 album only
9. Fleur de Mandegore
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2:37 album only
10. Kate's Journey
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2:45 album only
11. Autumn Man
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4:55 album only


Album Notes
Even as the boundaries that separate the age-old and emerging cultures of our world seem to meld and coalesce, there are musicians who rely on what has gone before them to craft entirely new styles of music that are much more than hybrids, that are, in essence, newly created genres which raise the bar for generations of artists to come.

Maeve Gilchrist is such an artist. A harpist, vocalist, and classically trained pianist, Maeve - who is daughter to an Irish mother and Scottish father - grew up equally immersed in the traditional music of her Celtic ancestors. From her early teens, Maeve was an in-demand member on the traditional music scene in Scotland where she performed at events such as the opening of the Scottish Parliament, the Celtic Connections Festival and the International Edinburgh Harp Festival. But it was her move to Boston, where she studied world music and jazz at Berklee, that set her on a musical path that has now reached its culmination in Song of Delight, her debut for Adventure Music America, which will be released on May 17. On Song of Delight, which is the second release of Maeve's career, she has managed to both reflect the deep roots of her traditional background and yet branch out in a distinctive direction that is singularly of her own design.

“I grew up in an extremely musical family,” says Maeve. “My sister plays the fiddle, my brother plays the guitar, my dad plays the pipes and two of my aunts play the harp. There was always music going on in the house, and it instilled a real sense of the joy of music. We also had a fantastic record collection, ranging from Joni Mitchell to Ravi Shankar.”

It was with all of those influences and inspirations that Maeve arrived at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she was enrolled as a jazz vocal major. Attending a school that placed equal emphasis on the business of music as well as its craft, Maeve soon realized that the key to a successful career lay in identifying and nurturing the qualities that set her apart. The answer, to Maeve, lay equally in what she’d brought to Boston as well as what she was able to take away from her time there.

“The underlying foundation of my music is and always will be the traditional Scottish music that I grew up with,” explains Gilchrist. “But the wonderful thing about studying at Berklee was the number of international students and the different cultures they brought along with them. It was then that I really began to explore improvisational music.”

Among the musicians that she encountered in Boston were two young players from Argentina – bassist Andres Rotmistrovsky and percussionist Marcelo Woloski, with whom she recorded her first self-released CD, in 2006, while she was still attending Berklee. Reaching Me was lauded by Dirty Linen for its “… seamless blend of ancient Celtic music with contemporary jazz.”

Fast forward a bit, and Maeve found herself living in Portland, Maine. In the year since the release of Reaching Me, she’d been teaching and performing throughout the Northeast, and was among the winners at the prestigious Lyon and Healy International Jazz and Pop Harpfest competition. At a party, a friend introduced her to string legend Darol Anger, a chance meeting that proved rather fortuitous a few months later, when Maeve decided it was time to record her second CD, and asked Darol if he’d be interested in participating. The result of that musical association, recorded in Maine, produced by Anger, and made more magical with the contributions of string bassist (and Maeve’s frequent collaborator) Aidan O’Donnell, is Maeve’s Adventure Music America debut, Song of Delight. Also on the CD are cellist Mike Block, and Anger, with guest performances from violinist Hannah Reed and mandolin player Joe Walsh.

Song of Delight is, says Maeve, “ a very organic and raw CD.” Vocals and harp were recorded live and simultaneously, which, she admits, was “an engineer’s nightmare,” but which ultimately adds to the honest vibe of the project. “Aidan and I had been playing so much together and I wanted to reproduce what we did live, with a developed string sound. The idea of the alternative string quartet was vey much born in the studio that week,” she continues. “It’s such a beautiful sound that supports but doesn’t mask the harp and voice. It’s acoustic and yet we’re able to improvise and groove without drums.”

Improvisation is fundamental to Maeve’s unique blend of sounds and styles. Even when she cites such important influences as Joni Mitchell, Maeve emphasizes the iconic singer/songwriter’s talent for musical invention. “On albums like Shadows and Light, Joni features musicians like Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius in her bands. The song were woven in amongst these instrumental interludes. That is more and more the direction I find myself taking.”

Certainly, the harp is not an instrument that comes immediately to mind when discussing improvisational music, or jazz, for that matter. Maeve explains, “It's hard to find improvising role models for the harp. Saxophone players and pianists have this legacy of players that have gone before them, who they can transcribe and emulate. Harpists don't really have that. And of course the limitations of the instrument prevent chromatic music from being easily played.”

Those limitations hardly seem relevant in light of Maeve’s work on Song of Delight. Gilchrist penned eight of the CD’s eleven tracks, deriving her inspiration from people and places she’s encountered in her life and work. Song of Delight also includes an inimitable interpretation of Stephane Grappelli’s “Automne” (featuring Maeve’s original lyrics) as well as Maeve’s own arrangements of two traditional songs, “Fleur de Mandegore” and “The Dowie Dens o’Yarrow.”

In addition to her own recordings and performances, Maeve’s talents have led her to collaborations with a wide variety of acclaimed contemporary artists, including Kathy Mattea and Grammy Award-winning bassist, Esperanza Spalding.

Still only in her twenties, Maeve is poised on the cusp of a musical career with an unlimited potential. Perhaps Darol Anger summed it up best in the liner notes to Song of Delight: “She’s giving the world a whole new concept, and the word for it is: A-Maeve-zing.”


to write a review

Joe Ross

Precociously beautiful and earthy music
Harpist/vocalist Maeve Gilchrist’s enchanting music has an ethereal charm that is sure to delight. Born and raised in Scotland, the young lady comes from a very musical family. By age 17, she found herself on full scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music where she studied jazz, world music and vocals. Her debut album “Reaching Me” was released in 2006. Now, five years later, “Song of Delight” is her sophomore project on the innovative Adventure Music label. Gilchrist builds upon her personalized signature sound that emphasizes impressionistic songs, alluring harp improvisation, original lyrics, and contemporary interpretations of ancient traditional themes. The CD’s mix is complemented with the inspired and thoughtful accompaniment of Aidan O’Donnell (upright bass), Mike Block (cello), Darol Anger (violin), Hannah Reed (violin) and Joe Walsh (mandolin)….all very pleasant and delicate bordering on intimate at times such as in the closing cut, “Autumn Man.”

Maeve’s emotional depth and reflection are captured in her self-penned numbers that are inspired by people, places, relationships and feelings in her life. There are beautifully melancholic moments, but there are also times that she fully demonstrates her young lively spunk and brash attitude. She also doesn’t shy away from her own sweetly wistful arrangements of traditional songs “The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow” and “Fleur de Mandegore” or an infectious rendition of Stephane Grappelli’s “Automne.” A radiant professional musician who shows much promise, Maeve Gilchrist has a je ne sais quoi that is hard to describe. She clearly understands a need to follow her own muse while concentrating on the unique qualities that set apart from others. The result is precociously beautiful and earthy music. (Joe Ross)