AUDIO: Boston-area harpist Áine Minogue’s latest lullabies calm the spirit
I first wrote about harpist Áine Minogue of Arlington, Mass. in 1992 when she performed before a small but enthusiastic audience at the Irish Festival in Easton. Her traditional blend of music, played on the folk harp, offered a spiritual respite. And now, almost 20 years and a dozen CDs later, I am hearing her latest, “Close Your Eyes, Love: Lullabies of Celtic Lands” (Little Miller Records), and finding the music as spellbinding and relaxing as ever.
Minogue, pronounced On-ya Mi-nohn: (Onya like Sonya without the ‘s’ – Min- ogue, like v-ogue), is a lecturer and folklorist whose pensive, captivating voice is as striking as it can be angelic. The new CD includes 10 songs, five instrumentals and five vocal melodies (one in Gaelic, one in Welsh and three in English). I dare you to close your eyes while listening to these lullabies drawn from the tradition.
“Today we believe medicine is the answer to falling asleep,” Minogue said. “Back then, they truly believed in the power of a melody to put you under. That’s a powerful thing, to have that kind of faith in music.”
Joining Minogue are co-producer Scott Petito (The Band, Béla Fleck) on bass, keyboards and guitar, along with Grammy-award-winning cellist Eugene Friesen.
I particularly enjoyed the Stephen Foster song “Slumber My Darling,” set to tender guitar and messages of mother’s love (lyrics here):
“Slumber my darling, thy mother is near
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear.
Sunlight has passed and the twilight has gone,
Slumber my darling, the night’s coming on.”
Others, like Dún Do Shúile (Close Your Eyes) offer a meditative mix of voice and harp in Gaelic, which translates to images of calm and wishes of good things to come tomorrow.
Melodies like “The Ashgrove,” with its solo harp textures, conjure images of wandering through a magical forest. OK, I’m getting a bit dream-like now, but you get the idea.
Here is a recording of Minogue’s “The Dove,” from an earlier release….