John Oke Bartlett of The Living Tradition
reviews Here and Now by MoiraiMoirai is a band of three confident ladies who perform with aplomb and assurance, which of course is everything one would expect from their exemplary musical pedigree: Jo Freya – Blowzabella, Token Women, Fraser Sisters; Sarah Matthews – Cupola, Cupola:Ward; Melanie Biggs – Former All Blacked Up. The name Moirai comes from Greek mythology depicting the three goddesses of fate who assign every person their allotted destiny by weaving a personal thread of life. The choice of Moirai as a group name is interesting and, in my view, perfectly encapsulates and personifies the essence of the group.
There is something for everybody on this, their second CD, with a mix of musical tastes that combine in a unique style that is a joy to listen to. There is a distinctive quality to their overall sound which is quite inspiring. From a personal point of view, some of the subject material perhaps leans towards a feminine perspective, but there is nothing wrong in that. I particularly liked the instrumental mix and production values of Here & Now - saxophones, clarinets, whistles, flutes and the more usual violin, melodeon and guitar. The choice of instruments available to this talented trio, and perhaps more importantly what to do with them, have created truly creative, robust and innovative arrangements. Of course, their musical talent doesn’t end here because there is also a fine vocal track laid over the whole with fine harmony work throughout.
On closer inspection, whilst the music is a fusion of styles, some British with the occasional nod towards a European sound, the actual material is firmly rooted in influences and tunes found deep within the tradition. This is a great accolade; to weave contemporary music and older material into a cohesive whole is a very fine skill and a great strength of the group’s identity. A really fine example of great craftsmanship can be found in the “poignant pair of mazurkas”, Muna And Mimi / Steve Fisher’s Lament, composed by Jo Freya and Mel Biggs respectively, which I am sure, if they aren’t already, are destined to become mainstays of sessions the length and breadth of the land. There is a seamless quality to the various tunes that have been employed and twisted together into the construction of some of the tracks, which is quite awe-inspiring.
This is a fine CD, highly recommended – Moirai: ‘Spinners of Destiny’ indeed.