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The Morrigan - Masque CD (album) cover


The Morrigan


Prog Folk

3.59 | 9 ratings

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3 stars I had suggested earlier that the MORRIGAN were a superior Celtic rock band if only because they employed a female vocalist without coercing her to levitate in the mists a la ENYA, later CLANNAD, LOREENA MCKENITT, IONA or myriad others. I suppose it was just a matter of time before Cathy Alexander became part of a marketing plan, as she does on "Masque", but we are lucky in two ways: she sings a lot less than normal and her intrinsic value pierces the aforementioned mists often enough.

Another aspect of the group that is evolving is COLIN MASSON's subscription to the MIKE OLDFIELD school of lead guitar, most in evidence on the fascinating title cut with its imposing blend of moods and eras. It also returns on the much weaker "Demon Lover", which sounds nothing like the well known trad song on which it is based, and is none the better for it. Mervyn B hoists the lead microphone on "Moonghost", and it works wonderfully as a part sea shanty part driving prog cut. Cathy Alexander's peak moment is the mysterious "Lykewake Dirge", which is much in the style of a moody STEELEYE SPAN circa "Below the Salt", but even more medieval sounding. The instrumental highlight is "Dribbles of Brandy", which is an exuberant romp that includes brass and accordion and a worthy successor to MOVING HEARTS' and ALAN STIVELL classics from a decade or two earlier. In contrast we must cope with the overdone and half baked "She Moved through the Fair", the lukewarm grasp at mid period RENAISSANCE in "The traveller", or the pleasant but forgettable "Blarney Pilgrim", which clearly fail to leverage the MORRIGAN's clout.

While superior overall to "Wreckers", "Masque" cannot disguise the band's occasional tendency to spread itself a bit too thin as well as choose questionable material or arrangements. Still, it's easily recommended to fans of Celtic rock with progressive leanings.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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