Vic Smith of fRoots
reviews Here and Now by MoiraiHaving heard them in one of their first club performances, then their first album, Sideways, and now this second release, it is pleasing to be able to report the considerable progress and development made by Moirai. Of course, Jo Freya always brings a lot of sax beefiness and musical insight and adventurousness to the bands she plays with – what a long journey it has been for her for those of us who first heard her playing recorder as a schoolgirl in the early incarnation of the Old Swan Band – but there is more than this in the evolution of this band.
Though every instrumental has its sturdiness, it does not mean that they cannot play with subtlety as a couple of poignant mazurkas show. Elsewhere on the tunes there are some thoughtfully different chord accompaniments and some well known tunes played in different modal settings.
For all that, it is the songs and their treatments which impress most. Moirai’s earlier repertoire included some rather whimsical pieces but here all the songs show their strength in different ways. Jo contributes two that she has written, and a song like The Bellamont Sisters by Sarah Matthews could only be written by someone who has a deep understanding of traditional song and ballads.
The real triumph of the album is the way they approach The Bedmaking, probably the best of the recordings of this lively song. The way they intersperse the words and tunes throughout with various versions of The Cuckoo’s Nest, their arrangements, harmonies, accompaniments could be regarded as prime examples of how to be creative with respect to the tradition.
There is not a weak track on the album.