Encouraging lyrics and creative Celtic instrumental work from the ‘Hendrix of the violin.’
Label: Musical Bridge Records
Time: 11 tracks / 41 mins
The original musical star of Riverdance, founding member of Celtic supergroup Cherish the Ladies and winner of nine All-Ireland Fiddle Championships has shared stages with world-class musicians from Sting and Patti Smith to the London Symphony Orchestra.
This album reflects that variety. Ivers’ innovative instrumental fiddle work drew me to it, but she both bookends and centres the collection with vocal tracks. “Leap of Faith (Dream On)” enjoys a simple hook as the chorus that draws you into its encouragement to follow your dreams.
The title summarises Ivers’ approach nicely. On the back cover she writes, “Scatter: when light and sound pass through an imperfect medium and are deflected in many directions. Not everything in life is beautiful, but there is such beauty in life. To seek it, embrace it and let it shine embodies a good life. Scatter the light.” That is what the enjoyable opening song “Shine” looks into in more detail.
The Bronx-born virtuoso’s Irish roots come out strongly on the slow and beautiful air “Gratitude,” the lively “Zero G (And I Feel Fine)” and the upbeat Celtic reel “Chase the Blues Away/ The Shebeen Queen,” but as the latter fades out and lets the bass shows though more strongly, you can hear its African Highlife rhythm, complementing the Irishness. While the instrumental “Road Trip” has a proggier, Caravan-like feel, at heart it is an Irish jig.
Ivers is a practising Catholic and faith is strongly implied as the source of the light she wants us to scatter, whether by the digipak’s background stained glass window showing Jesus, or two of the three central songs. “Go Tell it on the Mountain” develops a New Orleans/Zydeco feel, with banjo, accordion and trumpet making appearances; the African-American spiritual “Children Go” has been recorded by artists as varied as Nina Simone, The Spinners and REO Speedwagon, but this fiddle-fuelled version is probably as good as any out there.
That is the first track on which she gets her wah wah pedal out, featuring it then on the driving “Wah Wah One Violin,” a title that tells the story: she loops her violin making percussive rhythms, didgeridoo sounds, plucks and a lead melody without any help from anybody else. Ivers has been called “The Hendrix of the Violin” and this is the type of track that gives her the name.
On final track “You are Strong,” she raps (with permission) a friend’s Facebook account of a sexual assault, while Louise Barry powerfully sings the title hook.
The vocal tracks are generally strong without being compelling. Whether instrumental work or playing off others’ vocals, it’s Ivers’ intuitively vivacious fiddle work that particularly shines here.