Skara Brae was the first group that put harmonies to Gaelic songs. That alone makes them an important part of Irish trad music. Also not-so-trad music as Triona Ni Dhomnaill went on to be a member of the Bothy Band, Touchstone, and Nightnoise to name but three of the bands that owe their existence to Skara Brae; and sister Maighread Ni Dhomnaill has done many albums including Idir an Dá Sholas with Tríona and Dónal Lunny.
Tríona and Maighread, their brother Mícheál, and Dáithí Sproule as Skara Brae had two re-union concerts in Ireland 1997 and 2005 after they stopped playing the first time.
I’m not going to say some tracks are better than others, but I will say that having Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill as vocalist here is pure bliss. She’s not been very prolific. She’s been on a mere seven recordings over the past forty years, her latest being with the Maggies who are Tríona & Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Moya Brennan.
All of those old traditional songs still keep a spirit even for those who can’t understand what the lyrics mean – for every song is in Irish. The sleeve contains (most of) the lyrics, their translation into English and some interesting remarks, too.
For lovers of songs in Irish this album is a must.
Do note that the Gael-Linn release has a slightly different track listing as it has two additional cuts, ‘An Buinneán Buí’ and ‘Caitlín Tiriall’.
This lovely album is the only one that they officially released. There’s a superb soundboard recording of one of those re-union concerts, but it was never released more’s the pity. I’ve got a copy here and I’ll include a cut from it. It is two tunes, ‘Ar A Dhul Chun’ and ‘Chuain’ off the soundboard recording which has circulated widely on the net for some years now.