Top of the World Review: The Campbells – Fonn

Posted on June 20th, 2012 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Tim Cumming

A dynasty in its element

Five voices, one family, three generations, and a treasury of Gaelic song – the Campbells of Greepe, near Dunvegan on the north-western fringes of the Isle of Skye, have been described as one of the great dynasties of Gaelic song – an equivalent of The Watersons in the English tradition. Out of that tiny, one-street settlement of crofters, various pipers and singers wove a complex, vast and portable tradition of music that was embedded in everyday life. Fonn features ethereally beautiful Gaelic mouth music, as well as the Pibroch tradition of extended songs, alongside work songs and songs from the local community around Dunvegan.

The voice of family matriarch Kenna Campbell is joined by her daughters, Mary Ann and Wilma Kennedy, brother Seamus, niece Maggie MacDonald, and guest musicians including fiddler Alasdair Fraser, Braebach’s James Lindsay and Lorne McDougall on pipes and whistle. Mary Ann is a renowned world and folk music broadcaster, and it’s fabulous to hear her among the family blend of voices on songs that take you back to a wholly unmodernised world of direct contact between people and landscape. These performances feel close to the wind, rain and sun. Recorded and produced by Jerry Boys, this album will also be joined by a 300-page book containing 120 songs, due to be released in June.

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