Irish Music Magazine – review

The word Ceis is embedded in historical context yet all the while retains its ambiguity of meaning leading us to make our own observations on how the word relates to the fiery yet fluid harping of Laoise Kelly in her latest release. Laoise provides the historical fodder both in her sleeve notes and her mystical, melodious finger style and attributes her own take on the word as the magic or draíocht of the harp. I truly concur.

Having previously brought the harp to the fore-front of modern traditional music with her debut solo CD Just Harp, Kelly once again provides a fresh approach to the image of the National Symbol as an instrument with a vivacious translation of older and equally more modern tunes. Take the Toureendarby Polka set where her lively fingers dance into Nell Mahoney’s Polka with agile emphasis. The string movement pays an enigmatic homage to the legendary composer Turlough O’Carolan in The Honourable Thomas Burke and, later on, the definitive notes gain momentum in the All Alive set which displays a vitality and verve that is infectious.

It’s not all animated. In fact that’s the brilliance of the track layout as it highlights Kelly’s ability to draw you in amongst the strings. Achill Air encases the raw melancholy of the moment then suddenly the Tommy Peoples’ Beautiful Gortree has you tapping your feet with vigour. Siobháinín Seó, an ethereal lullaby from the Goodman Collection, is elegant in its rendering and a fitting finale.

Ceis has a strong connection with the raw wildness of the windswept Achill Island and Kelly draws these metaphors out thoughout the album. Laoise Kelly’s expertise and obvious grá for the instrument has re-ignited the flame within the harp tradition, and Ceis is a credible testament to this.