Kejafi – The Road

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Recordings, Reviews

KEJAFI – The Road

The Road, released on 1 March 2024, is the second offering from popular Sydney trio Kejafi who describe their music as Australian, modern Celtic. For those of you who may not know Kejafi they are: Ken O’Neill, octave mandolin and guitar; James Gastineau-Hills, fiddles (violin and viola); and Fiona McVicar, fiddles (violin and viola) and vocals. On this CD they have assembled some of Sydney’s best musicians, Cliona Molins, James Slack-Smith, Matt McMahon, Elsen Price and Ann Palumbo to join them on various of the 12 tracks featured on the album, adding colour and depth to their arrangements.

Kejafi’s sound is anchored in the Scottish tradition but also celebrates musical connections with Ireland and Australia. There is also a healthy serving of tunes composed either collaboratively, or by individual members of the trio like the album’s opening set Vortex / Twisted with echos of Ireland and Scotland yet firmly part of a new, contemporary Celtic repertoire. As you work your way through the album more of this is revealed like the Tea Set featuring two compositions from Fiona and James respectively. Tunes range from strathspeys to driving reels, jigs, the Sunday Morning Slips given a gentler treatment with harp and two violas, and the contemplative Remembering the Cloud Factory  written by Fiona in memory of Ígor Medio. I especially like the Lochaber Badger/Maggie’s Pancakes/A Pennyworth of Straw set with its mix of modern and trad tunes. Tempo and meter changes on various sets throughout the album are also employed to good effect adding variety and interest.

Peppered amongst the tune sets are a selection of songs delivered in Fiona’s clear, lyrical style. Thou Bonnie Wood O’ Craigilea (Tannahill) and Ye Jacobites (Burns) are pure Scottish though the former boasts an Australian connection as does Dearest Lassie O. The inclusion of Peggy Seeger’s Lifeboat Mona provides contrast to the traditional offerings but the standout for me is Thèid Mi Dhachaigh (I will go home) sung by Fiona in Gàidhlig ( Scottish Gaelic) and, a fitting choice to close out the CD.

The Road is a finely crafted collection of tunes and songs that time-travel between the traditional and the contemporary, not only demonstrating Kejafi’s musicianship but also showcasing their new repertoire of self-penned tunes. When thinking of things Irish/Scottish perhaps whiskey/whisky comes to mind but, if the names of some of the tunes on this CD are a clue, it’s “tea and pancakes” and I love it! Find out more about Kejafi OR Purchase Music

Kejafi’s North of Sydney Winter Tour is coming up 11-14 July and they have gigs in the Blue Mountains and Cambewarra in August.

Check out Kejafi’s upcoming gigs.


Reviewed by Pam Merrigan June 2024

1 Comment

  1. Ann O'Donovan

    A fitting review of this great CD. I’ve been playing it on repeat and it continues to impress. An excellent recording! All 12 tracks are a delight to listen to.


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