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MARIA DUNN - Gathering

MARIA DUNN - Gathering
Distant Whisper Music MARCD06

For her sixth album, Canadian singer-songwriter Maria brings to the table a fresh collection of stories-in-song. In doing so, she again expands her mode of musical expression from her usual mix of Scottish-Irish heritage with North American folk/roots, by mixing in more global flavours. In this case, the musical contributions of Solon and Jeremiah McDade, producer Shannon Johnson and harmony vocalists Asani are key to the project, which also involves the occasional exotic colouring in the shape of jazz soprano sax solo or tabla beat.

The songs themselves represent a gathering of inspirational narratives that form commentaries of keen social awareness, each one delivering its own message of hope by both depicting and honouring the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people past and present – whether named individuals (Alberta indigenous leader Dorothy McDonald-Hyde, human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai, immigrant Hans, “house mother” Flora) or groups (children in residential schools, parents of children with disabilities, grandmothers in solidarity). Although the issues addressed by Maria in her narratives tend to be those of struggle against adversity, the overall tone of her songs is positive and the plights of her characters shot through with sincere compassion and understanding. And an unquenchable love for, and sense of camaraderie with, her fellow-human-beings – which infuses the disc’s one cover (Jock Stewart) and the delicious bluesy-old-time celebration of the wonder of the Rocky Mountains, Music In The Meadow. In short, Gathering is a well-sung, gently exhilarating, well-upholstered disc that can’t fail to please.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.