"SirenSong" by Connemara with Grace Griffith

reviewed by Adam Victor Christensen

Released by Blix Street Records

SirenSong is a beautiful journey into the mythology and music of the sea, created by Connemara, a well-known trio out of the Maryland/DC area composed of singer Grace Griffith, fiddler Kathy Palmer and Celtic harper Mary Fitzgerald. Intricately, thoughtfully assembled from many pieces of song and story, some familiar, some newly composed, Connemara navigate by starlight as they lead us liltingly through this highly musical work. Along the way, songs of the seals are united with the elusive sighing of mermaids, the rowdy jigs and hornpipes of sailors. Altogether, they restore for us those wondrous creatures that the human imagination and the ocean conspired together to create. Even SirenSong's packaging is lovely: the CD comes with illuminating liner notes, evocative photos of the artists, and an appropriately atmospheric painting of an Irish castle on a cliff under a pale yellow moon.

The recording includes performances by guest musicians Zan McLeod on guitar, Jody Marshall on hammered dulcimer, Billy McComisky on accordion. Several Celtic harpists contributed their talent: Carol Thompson, Sue Richards, Julia Lane, and Mary Fitzgerald, the latter now a permanent member of the performing group. The Celtic harp isn't just an occasional instrumental color here but is essential to the ethos being evoked. It has its moments to shine and Sylvia Woods' original composition "Dialogue with a Brook" from the "Harp of Brandiswhiere Suite" makes a rare appearance.

Grace lives up to her name. Her singing is a complete enchantment from the beginning. Her melodies shimmer in the air as iridescent as sunlight on sea-spray. Had Judy Collins taken her a capella maritime gem "Farewell to Tarwathie" and extended it into an entire concept recording this might have been the result. As it is, SirenSong speaks volumes for the ability of these artists not so much to lure sailors to the bottom of the sea ... which I don't doubt they could do ... but to the lure the Muse of the world's waters to the shore of their unique musical genius. We're very fortunate they beckoned and She heard the call.


- Copyright © 1998 Adam Victor Christensen -


Playing time: 61:09

Titles: 1) The Song of the Seals/The Song of the Water Kelpie 2) The Selchie and the Fisherman 3) Sea Moods/Rowing from Isla to Uist 4) Dublin Lady 5) Far Away/Sea and Sky 6) Silent Star 7) Sea Fever 8) Sailing Ships/Ships Are Sailing 9) Abbie's Music Box/The Witch of the Wave 10) Ripples in the Rock Pool/Kiss of the Fiddle 11) Dialogue with a Brook 12) SirenSong 13) Da Slockit Light 14) The Mermaid's Tale


Visit Grace Griffith's Home Page


Originally published in the

Folk Harp Journal No. 91

Spring 1996


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