CD review by Hugh Worrall
Skirl is like a women’s supergroup, with Melita Jansen, Jen Skate, Bronwyn Calcutt and Jen Hawley.
These five women are all accomplished musicians, performers and teachers who all work on various other musical and theatre projects.
I have seen several of them performing at different festivals and folk club shows in other projects.
Skirl was active between 2004-2010 and they have some important credits such as the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
They describe themselves as a “cabaret show band extraordinaire”.
You could imagine that they met each other through their other projects and teaching and came to form Skirl as a vehicle for this particular music.
There are seven tracks on the CD, each featuring lead vocals by different members of the band.
The different women’s voices on lead vocals and the lovely harmonies are a strong feature of the sound and arrangements.
Jen Hawley’s guitar is also an important feature playing in pop/classical/latin/gypsy styles and playing some tasty solos.
Various percussion sounds played by different group members also feature, probably influenced by Jen Skate’s experience playing African drum and vocal music.
The tracks are mostly originals, written by different group members, but there’s a few really interesting covers arranged by Bronwyn Calcutt, who also plays accordion on some tracks.
Bronwyn’s vocals and the group harmonies on Masquerade are a highlight.
This is a really interesting CD with popular appeal while also working with a range of interesting sounds and vocal formats.
The musicianship, compositions, arrangements and the recordings are excellent.
This CD feels like we’ve been invited into a special women’s performance space, built by these particularly talented musicians.