A Good Suit of Clothes (Songs of the Emigrant Gael)

From the a capella verse of the first track Duthaich MhicAoid/Mackay County, one can’t help but be taken by the  highland singing of Fiona J Mackenzie. The voice and Irvin Daguid’s piano are like two old friends who finally meet-complimenting with beautiful results. All musicians involved in this project are exceptional.

Fiona has the nuance and lightness of voice but with just the right weight to add an air of mystery and authority. There is a combination of sweetness, palpable hope and poignancy in her singing echoing the sentiments of the Scottish exiles all over the world.

According to her, A Good Suit of Clothes is a title taken from one of the best known emigrant songs ‘ Mo Duthaich’ from South Uist. I am aware how Uist in the Scottish Hebrides have been a continuing force in the Gaelic revival with archives of songs being recorded by artists such as Julie Fowlis recently.

The production is superb and polished to flawless quality. The sound is crisp and clear with minimal reverb to make the instruments sound lush and alive.

Some of the tracks like Oran a Chiamalais/ Song of Homesickness and Illean Bithibn Sunndach/Boys Be Happy are fast toe-tapping tunes with acoustic guitars . While tracks like Cuir Culaibh Ri Asante/ Leaving Assynt Behind has a melancholy atmosphere and a haunting melody.

A Good Suit of Clothes is  what happens when exquisite talent meets excellent production techniques.The liner notes are very helpful. All Gaelic songs have English translations . Fiona is right when she suggested to me the importance of  the liner notes beside the music. On top of that, she also provided her own explanation and the story behind each songs, the composers and the lives they led .

If the purpose of this album is  a message in a bottle to those immigrants hoping they’d return…then it is a successful attempt wich will not only bring back long-lost friends  but a cavalry of guests , the passionate new comers who are drawn to the beauty of this type of music.


Irvin Daguid (Piano and harmonium)

Fraser Fifield (Whistle and pipes)

John Goldie (Guitar)

Mary Ann Kennedy (Clarsach)

James Mackintosh (Percussion)

Anna Massie (Cittern and guitar)

Ed McFarlane (Double bass)

Mr McFall’s Chamber-Clare Sterling (violin) Robert McFall (violin)

Jane Atkins (viola) and Su-a Lee (cello)

Ian Muir ( Accordion)

Guy Nichoson (Percussion)

Simone Welsh (Fiddle)

Singers: Darren Maclean, Katie Mackenzie, Sineag Macintyre and Cathy Ann MacPhee

All tracks produced and arranged by Irvin Daguid.

Greentrax Recordings Limited.

You can purchase Fiona J Mackenzie here.


Thanks to geekbynight for posting this video and added info:

Scottish singer and educator Fiona J. MacKenzie sings Abu Chuibhl’. She is joined by her Gaelic Singing and Language Student Doyle Raines. This is part of a concert Fiona gave in Jimera de Libar, Andalucia, Spain on May 2nd 2010.

…..I love New Orleans not just by giving us Anne Rice, Poppy Z Brite , True Blood and a lot  more of exotica. What’s next? Maybe Mr Leprechaun will have his toe-tapping green humor on the beautiful side of the French Quarter. Here are some pics from facebook’s  Irish New Orleans

…….The album teaser of Dom Duff is out. This should thrill fans of Breton music with language entirely in Breton. Expect more exotic sounds and energetic performance from the guy himself.

…..Catch Welsh band Mabon performing at  Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Bretagne France , that going to be in August 6, 2010. For the performances in the month of August, check out their tour schedules link:


……Another musician from Wales Oli-Wilson-Dickson combines the adventurous mood of Gypsy music and the Celtic music’s triumphant tunes .  If you are into Balkan stuff, or anything Central European with a twist of jig then this is your music. You can also visit http://www.fiddle.org.uk/


6 Replies to “A Good Suit of Clothes (Songs of the Emigrant Gael)”

  1. Don’t kid yourself…New Orleans is grossly overrated. TRUST me!
    In other news, I recently realized my age. Until recently, I’d always buy albums, even if I liked just one song. It took a long time for it to sink in that I could buy individual MP3s of songs on Amazon, cheap! D’oh!


  2. Hahahahaha my feelings too about albums…but I get curious about tracks I haven’t heard. And convince myself they are beautiful just to console myself(if there is a hint of regret ) if it is too expensive.


  3. I really like Fiona’s video. That blend of Celtic and Gypsy is fabulous! That is the most interesting version of The Orange Blossom Special I have ever heard!!!


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