“Mist Covered Mountains are a trio of masterful Celtic roots musicians based out of New England. Their new album, This Distant Shore, is a delight from start to finish, the kind of album that reveals new sides to the group with each spin. Anchored by the amazing vocals of Molly Hebert-Wilson, mom and fiddler Donna Hébert uplifts Molly’s songs with the lightest and most subtle of touches on her fiddling and string arrangements, while guitarist and vocalist Max Cohen brings his own songs, including a new take on the classic song The Parting Glass. But what sticks with me the most are Molly Hebert-Wilson’s stunning vocals. It’s not often you hear a voice this powerful debut in the world of Celtic song.” Hearth Music (8/20/13)
Eight tracks with songs in Irish and originals from Max Cohen and Richard Berman. Max’s update of the classic The Parting Glass is joined by Archie Fisher’s Witch of the Westmerlands and John Gorka’s setting of the World War II poem, Letter to St. Peter. This is an all-vocal companion CD to Donna and Max’s 2012 instrumental release, Orange on Blue.
Notes from Donna Hébert
1. Katie Cruel – Max’s hypnotic guitar groove gives this old song a new identity. The song Katie Cruel is an American folk song dating back to Revolutionary times, most likely to Scotland. It‘s linked to the song, Licht Bob’s Lassie (who is, indeed, what you think she is). I learned it first from Peggy Seeger and taught it to Molly on long car trips.
2. Caidé sin don té sin – Molly learned this in Irish Folk Group at NYU, where she earned a minor in Irish Studies and studied Irish language with Donegal native-speaker Pádraig Ó Cearúill. She spent a summer at Trinity College in Dublin and in the Gaeltacht. Pádraig teaches his students to speak by teaching them songs – what could be better? This song is the Irish-language equivalent of “Mind Your Own Business”.
3. The Wedding Dance © Max Cohen & Richard Berman – The melody for this one comes from Max, who sings this lovely waltz. His friend (and consummate lyricist) Richard Berman set words to a beautiful piece Max wrote called “Martha’s Vineyard.” This joint effort won them kudos as Kerrville songwriting finalists. If there’s a perfect father-daughter wedding dance, this is it!
4. The Gifts © Richard Berman – A tale of the road not taken . . . Max taught Molly this song of love and regret while she was in her teens. From Pioneer Valley songwriter Richard Berman, it’s become one of our most popular songs, giving Max the line This Distant Shore for the CD title. Molly took both ‘distant shore’ cover photos in Donegal. In 2013, she sang it for an Old Songs Festival Celtic song workshop. Archie Fisher, on stage with us, loved it and recorded it for his 2016 CD, A Silent Song. Seems a fair swap for all of his songs we love to sing!
5. Fear an Bhata – This song, whose title means “The Boatman,” originated in Scots gaelic and is attributed to Sìne NicFhionnlaigh (Jean Finlayson) in the late 19th century. The lyrics tell of a true love who waits for her boatman’s return and the writer is said to have married her boatman not long after the song was written, so it worked! The song migrated to Ireland and Molly learned this setting from her Irish language prof at NYU, Pádraig Ó Cearúil, a Donegal native. (See #3, Caidé Sin)
6. The Witch of the Westmerlands © Archie Fisher – This ballad delves into the English Lake District’s legends of shapeshifting water witches, half woman, half horse. Archie’s a master storyteller: “Wet rose she from the lake, and fast and fleet went she, one half the form of a maiden fair with a jet black mare’s body.” Molly learned all 19 verses on road trips as a child, in the days before iPods . . .
7. The Parting Glass (new verse © Max Cohen, Cosmic Squirl Music, BMI) – The classic Irish wake song has been updated by Max, who deepens the song’s meaning with a new last verse. The only a-cappella song on the CD, this one features Max’s heartbreak baritone and we get to back him up.
8. Let Them In, Peter © Elma Dean & John Gorka – Molly sings this lullaby for the fallen soldiers and Max’s guitar does it justice. The poem, Letter to St. Peter, was written in World War II by Elma Dean. John Gorka set it to music in the 80s. The full story is available at johngorka.com/forum/. I served in the military in the ’60s and this brings me back. I, too, wish them to wake whole again.
P.S. There’s a surprise hidden track at the end . . . won’t give it away but it will make you laugh!
Music samples ©, ℗ 2013 Donna Hébert, Molly Hebert-Wilson, Max Cohen. All rights reserved.