These three marvelously talented sisters have come a long way from playing for tips at their local farmers market. Having been recognized in 2011 by Celtic Radio for Album of the Year and again in 2013 by the Irish Music Awards as the Best New Irish Artist, these sisters continue to be recognized nationally and internationally. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, while their music is certainly based in the Celtic Music genre there are obvious western and Canadian influences. Their music possesses a warmth and authenticity that connects to their audiences in an engaging and energizing manner. Their latest album, Mountain Rose, is no exception. Released in June 2015, this album showcases their ever growing maturity where old classics continue to evolve and original songs shine and blend well with the style of music that influenced them.
While the Gothard Sisters do record some traditional songs and covers that highlight their roots they give these songs their own personality. It is an intricate blending of the old and the new. For example, some of the more traditional tracks on this album are the Scottish anthem “Auld Lang Syne” and the Americana tune “St. Anne’s Reel.” The percussive nature of “Auld Lang Syne” gives the song a very intimate and humble feeling, as one sitting around a campfire celebrating a comfortable new years with their loved ones. However, the fiddle does a wonderful job in highlighting some of the important phrases while keeping the signature melody. Then at the end, the track certainly takes on more of a celebratory tone that comes with a new beginning. “St Anne’s Reel” showcases the girls’ Americana roots reminding the listener of their origin. The vigor of the fiddle and the brilliance of the phrases will certainly get the listener’s attention and give them a desire to move. Likewise, the addition of Andy Stewart’s “Queen of Argyle,” the welsh lullaby “All Through the Night,” or otherwise known as “Ar Hyd y Nos,” and Kate Rusby’s “I Courted a Sailor,” are wonderful arrangements that are while truthful to the original have a personality that is singular to the Gothard Sisters.
In addition to these tracks are numerous originals. “The Bandit,” which is written about a raccoon in the woods, is a lighthearted fiddle tune that is punctuated by a bright tambourine. Then halfway through we hear this very clean and energizing percussion solo that gives the tune a different dimension, showcasing their ability for multilayered arrangements. “Mountain Rose Waltz” then gives the album a new element by highlighting the classical training these sisters had growing up. The alternating style of playing, bowing and plucking, is playful to the ear while the rhythm of the waltz is comforting. Slowly you can feel yourself just swaying along to the hypnotic beat with a smile on your face. Other enchanting original tunes and songs on this album are “Cat in a Bush,” “Chaos in La Casa,” “It Was Beautiful,” “Grace O'Malley,” and “The Boatman's Call.”
All in all, this album continues with the standard of excellence that one comes to expect from The Gothard Sisters. Whether it’s an arrangement of a traditional song or an original you will not be disappointed. The energy, the musicianship, and emotion that radiates with each note can’t help but make you smile and want to hear more. I can not recommend them enough. Buy the album and if you get a chance to see these ladies perform, don’t miss the opportunity. You will not regret it.
Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher. Besides writing for the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music. He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.