Mortal Daze, Shenanigan's debut album, has a nicely effective album cover, with the faces of the six band members appearing almost ghostly from out of misty sunlit tree shapes. Considering that Shenanigan does ethereal, haunting ballads particularly effectively, the cover is well-designed to match the prevalent musical theme in the collection. Give a listen to the eerie original ballad "Muruche" -- about a woman who loses her selkie lover to murderous villagers, not to the sea -- and that will set the tone. "She Moved Through the Fair" is another tale of love lost, and Clare Brett performs it evocatively, though traditionalists would have preferred this one with a male vocalist in the lead. This album's one significant flaw is "The Wild One," with its awkward pacing, layers that clash at times, and overly fulsome, excessively precious lyrics that edge into trite in places. (Rhyming "wing" and "angels sing"? Please make that stop.) Still, even this less than stellar experiment shows the bones of something better within it, if they'd just polish it some more, and maybe tone down the pretentious lyrics. Plus, it's a single selection out of an album of 17, so the merits of the rest more than outweigh the faults of the one. On the other hand, the instrumental "Battle of Augrim Set" is quite well done, and definitely merits repeat play, as do "The Long Road Home," "Carrickfergus," and "Last Tango in Tipperary," an interestingly Spanish flavor addition to the mostly Celtic collection. Overall, this is so close to being an ideal debut album that the occasional lingering rough spots call attention to themselves all the more sharply for their contrast with the majority of the very engaging and skillfully performed balance of the selections. Fans of Celtic music will definitely be keeping an ear out for Shenanigan's follow-ups to Mortal Daze.
Mortal Daze Review
by Murrday Fisher