Friday, July 6, 2018

Review of The Gothard Sisters' "Midnight Sun"

I posted this review a short while ago on the Sputnik Music website:

Review Summary: If I could do it without breaking a hip and endangering those around me, this album would inspire me to step dance.

Three sweet-voiced blonde-haired sisters fiddling away and singing songs about flowers and mermaids and fairies -- it sounds like many a Sputniker's vision of aural hell. But as John Astin discovered in that classic episode of the old Night Gallery show, one man's hell is another man's heaven. 

The Gothard Sisters are a trio of performing siblings from Washington State. Purportedly inspired by a video of Riverdance, they began taking Irish step dancing lessons to complement the violin lessons they were already engaged in, and by their teens, they were performing at state fairs and Celtic music festivals throughout their home area. Now all in their twenties, they have released a dozen or so albums, and become headliners at Celtic music events all over North America.

Midnight Sun is their most recent LP. Released this past May, it contains a dozen songs that are evenly split between instrumental tracks and tracks with vocals. For those who appreciate Celtic-tinged original music, there's a lot to like here. The fiddling throughout is particularly enjoyable, and there's some nice acoustic guitar and piano playing as well. As for the lead vocals, they're sung by the youngest sister, Solana, with sibs Greta and Willow providing the harmonies. Solana's voice is high-pitched and pleasant, if maybe a tad thin. The songs are nicely constructed musically, although some of the lyrics can be a little insipid. In their defense, though, they're working in a genre where songs about magical beings is part of the tradition, so I'm going to cut them some slack here.

Among the best tracks on Midnight Sun are the title track, which pays homage to living in one of those areas in the northern hemisphere where the sun never sets at certain times of the year, and "Rose, Marie and Heather", which tells the tale of an encounter between three sisters and a Fairy Queen of ill intent who tries unsuccessfully to get each of them to betray the other two. The best of the instrumental numbers might be "When the Rain Falls", which Willow Gothard co-wrote with pianist Michele McLaughlin (who also plays on the track). 

Midnight Sun won't be for everyone. Its unrelenting positivity will doubtlessly turn some listeners off, and others might find the sugary vocals intolerable. Nevertheless, there is some truly lovely music to be had here that's also lively and fun. It might even inspire you to step dance.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars