Review | Songlines

Dramagical

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Seán Heely

Label:

Seán Heely

March/2024

Seán Heely is a young fiddle player and Gaelic singer based in Washington, DC who is a US National Scottish Fiddle Champion, as a well as a classical violinist. His repertoire draws on Scottish as well as Irish traditions, and Dramagical is his third album, focusing on the dramatic and magical aspects of Gaelic music, with the intention, he says, of transporting listeners into the ‘otherworld’ of the Celtic tradition.

Heely was on the Isle of Skye when the concept took shape – guided by one of his mentors, Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll. Augmenting his own playing is The Seán Heely Celtic Band, an eight-piece comprising piano, guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán, harmonium, percussions and cello.

Amid the tunes, songs of death and the ‘otherworld’ rear their heads, such as ‘The Twa Corbies’, a stark, spare, unrelenting ballad in which two carrion ponder which fresh corpse to feast upon. The epic, nine-minute ‘Cernunnos: An Dia Adharcach (The Horned God)’ is a highlight, with Heely playing solo, evoking the mysterious antlered god of nature and fertility, whose mythology is embedded in the ancient Celtic and Gallo-Roman world of Iron Age Europe. Here, you feel your ear is pressed to the heart and soul of Heely’s ‘dramagical’ world.

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