Over the past ten years, The Shee has enjoyed performances at some of the world’s best known music venues and festivals, including Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament building; Celtic Connections; Cambridge Folk Festival; Cropredy Festival; the Scots Trad Music Awards; Blas; Rhythms Of The World; and Nordsjøfestivalen in Norway. Nominated for both ‘Folk Band Of The Year’ and ‘Best Live Act’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards, The Shee have released three highly acclaimed albums – Murmurations (2015), Decadence (2010) and A Different Season (2008) – and move into their second decade a highly respected, multi-faceted, accomplished ensemble.
Continuum was conceived by the band with Celtic Connections, one of the most influential and important festivals in contemporary British folk music. The project has given each member of The Shee license to dream: to commission a British folk musician hero to write an original piece specifically with the band in mind. The musicians duly chosen were: Andy Cutting, Brian Finnegan, Karine Polwart, Martin Simpson, Kathryn Tickell and Chris Wood, and the pieces given their world premiere at Celtic Connections 2016.
This album, then, is the aural souvenir of that collaboration, ten tracks varying in theme and influence but bound by exquisite craftwomanship. There might be six performers in the band, and multi instrumental skills in abundance, but each track allows the narrative – be that words or melody – to take centre stage with accompaniment that is never the most obvious choice but complements naturally.
Songs are delivered by full bodied, confident vocals, a call to arms, like the curious ‘Cradle Song’ where Olivia Ross continues to sing even when the storm is closing in around her. Tunes are wordless songs, where instrumental interplay conveys the message just as easily as lyrics, like the talkative fiddles in ‘The Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle’. Invocation of atmosphere and ambience is evidently of utmost importance to The Shee, too, with instruments and textures permitted to shift and mutate as the imagined scene dictates.
Continuum is the powerful product of a unique collaboration, of which the band and their contributors should be proud.