6 en Songlines

The French title of this album – ‘if only the winter would take hold’ – has an idiomatic meaning in Québec. Producer and wind player O’Hearn describes it as a traditional invocation to the season, when the work of harvest is behind and there’s time to sit and play or to get up and dance to the jigs and reels, or to contemplate the lovely slow airs. Backed by the soft, patient guitar of fellow Québécois and La Bottine Souriante co-founder André Marchand, who also provides podorythmie (the province’s trademark foot-stomping percussion), O’Hearn deploys a battery of tin whistles, as well as baroque oboe. Production and arrangements are clean and unadorned, allowing a fascinating variety of sounds, not forgetting O’Hearn’s skillful articulation and ornamentation, to shine. What is suggested by the music is, in O’Hearn’s words, that ‘a large proportion of Quebeckers have Irish blood and don’t even know it.‘ The tracks from Québec, with French titles, are quite similar to those bearing Gaelic or English titles from the old country. For further delight, there’s a Scots-influenced melody derived from the Micmac Indians, a couple of originals, and a culminating instrumental duet from Mozart’s Magic Flute. But, really, it’s all magic.

 – Jeff Kaliss