Two of the brightest lights of traditional Celtic music have joined hands across the Irish Sea to release their debut album
Ruth Keggin and Rachel Hair unveiled ‘Lossan’, their first album together, a collection of 11 songs and instrumentals based around traditional and contemporary Manx music, with a unique Gallic twist.
Manx singer and linguist Ruth and Scottish harpist Rachel have created new arrangements of traditional Manx material, including songs such as ‘Kirree Fo Sniaghtey’, which translates as ‘Sheep under the Snow’, alongside some newly-written songs by Manx composers such as Annie Kissack, bringing new life to forgotten and delightful Manx lullabies,ballads and trad jigs, with an firm eye on Manx culture and tthe resurgence of the Manx language.
The album has been several years in the planning, although busy schedules kept the two friends from being able to commit to working together.
However, in 2020, the lockdowns gave them the chance to sit down and focus on the project, despite being unable to get together in person.
‘From inception, we’d wanted to work together for a very long time. Lockdown gave us that time to let us sit down and get planning it and work on the music together, albeit from different countries,’ said Ruth.
‘We started really getting our heads together in 2020, but with the borders being closed, we didn’t get to record it until October 2021.’
The name of the album, ‘Lossan’, took on extra significance as they were working together remotely.
‘It is actually pronounced “Lothan” or “Lozan”,’ said Ruth, who is also ‘Yn Greineyder’, or the Manx Language officer.
‘Its a lovely word, it means “shimmer”, “gleam”, or “sparkling light”. It also has a connection to aurora borialis. That would be pronounce ‘Lossan y Twooaie’ in Manx Gaelic.
‘Its also associated with phosphorescence, in the sea, and we loved the idea of this, as that is something we both share.
‘We don’t live in the same country, but we travel by the sea or sky to get to each other. We both look to the sea as the original highway that links our worlds together.
‘But it’s a lovely old Manx word that we found in Cregeen’s Manx dictionary. I love to find old words which were used a lot in the past and give them a new life.
‘I also like the idea of the word meaning specks of light in the dark.
‘The album was conceived over the lockdowns and, when we were working on it , it was a bit of a glimmer of hope for us.
‘We didn’t know when we’d see each other again, and, also, Rachel, more than myself, travelled the world performing, but when the lockdowns hit, her schedule just completely cleared.
She had no gigs or projects to work on and it was pretty devastating for her, like many people in the industry.
‘I didn’t have any projects either so, when we started working on the album, it was really nice to have something to cling on to.’
Rchael is a well known figure in the Manx music scene and is deeply immersed in the island’s music and culture.
She has been teaching harp to many up-and-coming musicians, including Mera Royle, for more than 10 years, and last year married Manx musician Adam Rhodes.
‘Rachel’s understanding of Manx music is completely paralleled by working with lots of other Manx musicians,’ said Ruth.
‘She really does fly the Manx flag around the world where ever she goes, and is definitely an honorary Manxie!’
More information of ‘Lossan’ can be found at ruthkeggin.com
The album was due to be launched with a concert at the Erin Arts Centre two weeks ago, but the concert was postponed after Rachel tested positive with Covid.
The launch gig will now take place on Monday, September 19.
Ticket details can be found at erinartscentre.com