I first came across the Meadows Family on the Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2016 and was immediately struck by their talent and the sheer enjoyment in what they were doing. This album has brought all that promise to fruition and is a really splendid collection of folk from all across Britain and Ireland.
The four siblings, Harvey, Melody, Fantasia and Titania are all multi-instrumentalists and vocalists and have produced a sound here that captures them at their very best.
The album opens with a dramatic fiddle and piano introduction by Harvey and Fantasia before Titania’s crystal-pure vocal brings the old song Lonely on the Water to stark and vibrant life. Melody’s tin whistle solo opens track two, Henry Martin which is carried along by the piano and bodhran. As it is throughout the album, Titania’s vocal is faultless and presents the story beautifully.
The songs chosen are from the great folk tradition of these islands and Maid of Culmore takes us to Ireland for this age old tale of lost love. There is some exquisite harmony between fiddle and flute on this track that send tingles down the spine. Wales is represented by the ballad Si Hei Lwli Mabi which has stunning vocals by all three sisters. The whole family join in the vocals of the old sea shanty High Barbary a track that show they can also tackle the more upbeat numbers. The striking ballad Maid in Bedlam and the old favourite Spanish Ladies are The Meadows Family in their element.
As well as the great range of songs there are three instrumentals, Bedd Y Morwr & Hen Ferchetan, Heron on the Water and Dribbles of Brandy, and they are all expertly performed.
My personal highlight of the album is the sumptuously beautiful version of Lowlands Away. It is simply majestic. The main theme is carried by the fiddle and piano with some more lovely counter melody between the fiddle and flute. The vocal is quietly gorgeous and the track is an altogether sublime piece of music.
The Meadows Family are enthusiastic, fun and above all highly talented. It has been a joy to witness their progression and as for the future, well the sky is the limit. With Force of the Tide they have produced an album that is surely destined to be a classic of its kind.
Visit Meadow's website https://www.themeadowsband.co.uk/force-of-the-tide
Author: Hughie MacNeill