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Christa's debut as a solo artist brings together
songs from the Irish, Scottish, Australian and American folk
traditions, accompanied by some of the Celtic world's most
celebrated musicians.

Produced by renowned guitarist Dennis Cahill, Love of the Land
features Christa's singular voice -- warm, supple, expressive,
intimate -- paired with accompaniment from Dennis Cahill,
John Doyle, Richard Mandel and Olivier Longuet. Love of the Land
also features appearances by John Williams, Liz Knowles,
Kieran O'Hare, Larry Grey and Kat Eggleston.

Track Listing

1. Leaving Australia (Clip | Lyrics)
2. Johnny Lad (Clip | Lyrics)
3. Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa' (Clip | Lyrics)
4. Loughrask (Clip | Lyrics)
5. The Hawk and the Crow (Clip | Lyrics)
6. The Lady Mary Sails (Clip | Lyrics)
7. The Lowlands of Holland (Clip | Lyrics)
8. Giant (Clip | Lyrics)
9. The Piper and the Maker (Clip | Lyrics)
10. Lochanside (Clip | Lyrics)
11. The Road to Clady (Clip | Lyrics)
12. Hush (Clip | Lyrics)
13. Keg of Brandy (Clip | Lyrics)
14. Love of the Land (Clip | Lyrics)

Ordering instructions may be found to the right.

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CDs are $16.25 each. ($15 + ship.)
Send an email or call (949) 262-7310.
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Singular Voice
14252 Culver Drive, #A714
Irvine, CA 92604-0317

Five Gears by The Syncopaths, 2010
Rough Around the Edges by The Syncopaths, 2005
Celtic Love Songs by Susan Craig Winsberg, 2002
TamLyn by TamLyn (out of print)

Leaving Australia -- Traditional. (Track Listing)

So many of the songs in my repertoire are about leaving family and friends, dreaming of return and sweet reunion. This song is, instead, heavy with the disillusionment of dreams come asunder in a foreign land. I learned this song from the singing of wonderful Australian folk duo Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton

I sailed to the west with a schoolmate of mine,
and together, we shared the hard toil.
It was hard times at home that caused us to roam;
no work for the sons of the soil.
So I bade my old mother and father farewell,
And I said, "I'll not be long away!"
But ten years have passed; fortune's favoured at last,
And I'm leaving Australia today.

I sailed to the west with a dear pal of mine,
each having a share in one claim.
Taking bad luck as it came with the rest,
and working on, just the same.
'Til a cowardly foe struck my poor pal low
Who struck him, I never can tell,
But his share of the gold, it lies close to my heart
Oh Mother, and dear sister Nell.

Well, I'm going back to my dear old home;
it's far away over the sea.
Right back to the scenes of my childhood,
where there'll be a welcome for me.
Oh, many's the year that has passed away
Since I left old England's shores.
So may God speed the vessel that carries me back
To my dear old home, once more.
Johnny Lad -- Traditional. (Track Listing)

I learned this flirtatious song while living for a summer in Helensburgh, Scotland in 1997. It always reminds me of one particular golden afternoon spent hiking the beautiful Highlandman's Road along the flank of Tom na H-airidh, between Rhu and Glen Fruin -- and the handsome young man I chanced to meet there, working in one of the fields along the track.

Oh, ken you my love Johnny? He is doon on yonder lea.
He's lookin' & he's jokin' , & he's aye watchin' me.
Oh, he's pullin' & he's teasin', but his meanin's nae sae bad.
Gin it's ever gaun tae be, tak me noo, my Johnny lad!
Tak me noo, Johnny laddie, tak me noo, my Johnny lad!
If it's ever going to be, tak me noo Johnny lad.

When the sheep are in the fauld & the kye are in the byre,
and other lads and lasses sittin' 'round their ain fires.
There's me, a glaikit lassie, just like gin I was half-mad,
through the nooks & barley stooks, jinkin' you, Johnny lad.
Jinkin' you, Johnny laddie, jinkin' you, my Johnny lad.
Through the nooks & barley stooks, I'm jinkin' you, Johnny lad.

Oh, Johnny's blythe & bonnie. He's the pride o' yonder lea,
and I loo' him best o' any, though he's, aye teasin' me.
Though he teases me & squeezes me & tickles me like mad,
nane comes near me that can cheer me like my ain Johnny lad!
Aye, it's you, lovely Johnny, aye, it's you, my Johnny lad.
Nane can tease nor can please me like my ain Johnny lad.

Oh, my Johnny's no' a gentleman nor yet is he a laird,
but I would follow Johnny lad, although he was a caird.
For Johnny is a bonnie lad; he was aince a lad o' mine,
and I've never had a better lad, though I've had twenty-nine!
Aye, it' s you, my Johnny laddie, all for you, my Johnny lad,
oh, I'll dance the buckles of my shoes wi' you, Johnny lad.
Aye, wi' you, my Johnny laddie, just wi' you, my Johnny lad,
I would knock the buckles off my shoes wi' you, Johnny lad!
Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa' -- Traditional.
(Track Listing)

This lovely song was written by Robert Tannahill, a contemporary
of Robert Burns. It has the most extraordinary juxtaposition of mournful tune and uplifting lyrics, and is much a love song to
the land as it is to the beloved. I learned it from Sally Ashcraft while on tour in Alaska with Alasdair Fraser and the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers in the late 1990s, as winter was beginning to break towards spring across the magnificent Alaskan landscape.

Gloomy winter's noo awa',
Saft the westlin' breezes blaw;
'Mang the birks o' Stanley-shaw
The mavis sings fu' cheerie, O;
Sweet the craw-flower's early bell
Decks Glennifer's dewy dell
Bloomin' like thy bonnie sel',
My young, my artless dearie O.
Come my lassie, let us stray
O'er Glenkilloch's sunny brae
Blithely spend the gowden day
'Midst joys that never wearie, O.

Towerin' o'er the Newton woods
Laverocks spread their snaw-white clouds;
Siller saughs, wi' downy buds
Adorn the banks sae brierie O;
Round the sylvan fairy nooks,
Feathery breckans fringe the rocks,
'Neath the brae the burnie jouks,
And ilka thing is cheerie, O;
Trees may bud and birds may sing,
Flowers may bloom and verdure spring,
Joy to me they canna' bring,
Unless wi' thee, my dearie, O.
Loughrask -- Words and music by Danny Carnahan,
Post-Trad Music (Track Listing)

Gifted Northern California singer-songwriter Danny Carnahan crafted this potent cautionary tale about the peril of ignoring sage advice when fixed upon begetting war, and the high price paid by those not in command. Though I know Danny, I learned this song from another fine California singer, Paul Bridges, at the Lark in the Morning Music Camp.

I was just seventeen when to West Clare I came
To serve Lord O’Loughlainn and fight in his name
And he gave me a sword and he promised me fame
If I’d lay down my life for the Burren

But worries we’d none through the westering year
And I courted my maiden and hunted the deer
And my sword gathered dust as we’d nothing to fear
Till the snows brought a messenger riding

And he cried, A fierce army cross o’er the far hill
Our land to despoil and our cattle to kill
So we took up the banner and marched with a will
To beat them away from our border

So certain of glory we marched with the tide
Through snow-covered stones where the wild rabbits hide
And we stopped where Loughrask lay so peaceful and wide
And a cry echoed over the water

And the grey hag she rose where no foothold could be
From the heart of the lake, with her back to the sea
And she thrust out her hand as her eyes turned to me
Saying, Soldier of Loughlainn, take warning

Get you home, Lord O'Loughlainn, return while you may
For your fate is decreed if you march on your way
And no many may fight with you and live out the day
And a cold wind will blow on the Burren

O’Loughlainn just smiled as he raised up his hand
I hark not to vision nor bow to demand
And there’s no one on earth, be he devil or man
Can lure me to faithless surrender

And the cursed outlanders who march to the fore
Will rue the cruel fate that has tempted them o’er
For we go in God’s name as we march on to war
So take Heaven or Hell as it please you

And I wanted to run, but I didn’t dare try
And the Hag she just stood as our army marched by
And I wish now I’d spit in my Lord Loughlainn’s eye
For a cold wind did blow on the Burren

Oh, the foe fell upon us with scarcely a sound
And we froze in confusion, fair feast for the hounds
And quickly and cruelly they cut Loughlainn down
And they harvested us like ripe barley

And now wounded I lie, though my warning was clear
And scarce was the glory awaiting me here
And this heart that beat only to comfort my dear
Now stains the white snows of the evening

And were we true to our duty? Well, God only knows
And it won’t even matter to Him, I suppose
When we all melt away with the last winter’s snows
And the wildflowers bloom on the Burren
The Hawk and the Crow -- Traditional.
(Track Listing)

I never intended to learn this cheery little song when I stumbled upon it during a lovely week spent browsing among the books and field recordings in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin...
but the tune and phrasing stuck fast in my brain, as did the spare, precise lines rendering each bird's physical personality. It unexpectedly became a most welcome "ear worm"!

Said the Hawk unto the Crow one day,
"Why do you in mourning stay?"
"I was once in love, but I didn't prove fact,
And ever since, I wear the black."

Chorus: Singing Ri-the-diddle, ri-the-diddle, ri-the-diddly-dum
I was once in love, but I couldn't prove fact, and ever since, I wear the black.

And next there spoke the Willy Wagtail,
"I was once in love and I did prevail,
I was once in love and I did prevail,
And ever since, I wag my tail."

And then there spoke the little brown thrush
Who was sitting on yon Holly bush,
"The way to court, I've heard them say,
Is to court all night and to sleep the next day."

And last there spoke the Jenny Wren:
"Do you know what I'd do if I was a man?
For fear that one would wriggle and go,
I would wear two strings upon my bow.
The Lady Mary Sails -- Words and music by Judy Goodenough and Ann Mayo Muir, BMI. (Track Listing)

This poignant song brilliantly conveys the mixture of apprehension and stoicism that characterizes the lives of those who love seafaring men. It must be near-unbearable to watch your beloved sail away, to face the inevitable, hum-drum trials and burdens of daily life with one corner of your mind fixed always upon the longed-for return of his ship -- knowing full well how often men vanish upon the face of the changeable, unpredictable sea. I learned this song from my friend, wonderful singer Ann Mayo Muir, while at Alasdair Fraser's Valley of the Moon fiddle camp in 2000.

And what will I wear when the Mary sails?
A dress as red as red can be.
I'll think of him when the Mary sails,
And she takes him far away from me.

Chorus: A week and a month and a year go by;
The stars go traveling 'round the sky.
Won't see me weep, won't hear me cry,
When the Lady Mary sails.

What will I wear when the corn's to cut?
His old brown breeches, tied with a string.
I'll think of him when the corn's to cut,
And the geese are crying on the wing.

And what will I wear when the baby's born?
His old white shirt to give me ease.
I'll think of him when the baby's born
Who's daddy's gone to sail the seas.

And what will I wear when the Mary comes?
A widow's veils and a widow's black.
I'll think of him when the Mary comes:
The man who won't be coming back.

And what will I wear when his stone's to set?
Some ribbons off my wedding dress.
I'll think of him when his stone's to set:
It's one man more, and one man less.
The Lowlands of Holland -- Traditional. (Track Listing)

A well-known song, but this time set to a lilting, minor-keyed tune which I have not encountered elsewhere. I learned this version from fine Scottish singer Aimee Leonard in 1996 during the Stromness (now Orkney) Folk Festival in the Orkney Islands.

On the night that I was married, and in my marriage bed,
There came a bold sea Captain, and he stood at my bed-head
Crying, "Arise! Arise, young married man,
and come along with me
To the low, lowlands of Holland to fight the enemy."

Well, I held my love all in my arms, still thinking he might stay,
But the Captain, he gave another order; he was forced to march away.
Crying, "There's many a blithe young married man
This night must go with me
To the low, lowlands of Holland to fight the enemy."

Well, Holland is a wondrous place, and in it grows much green.
It's a wild inhabitation for my true love to be in.
Where the grass does grow, and the warm winds do blow,
And there's fruit on every tree.
But the low, lowlands of Holland parted my love and me.

No shoe nor stocking I'll put on, nor comb go through my hair,
nor shall no coal nor candlelight burn in my bower again.
Nor will I lie with any young man until the day I die;
For the low, lowlands of Holland parted my love and I.
Giant -- Words and music by Stan Rogers,
Fogarty's Cove Music, Inc. (Track Listing)

I don't recall where or when this evocative song crept into my repertoire, but I never weary of its elemental sense of place, fierce ceremony, and yearning to maintain connections with loved ones, places, and traditions left behind.

Cold wind on the harbour and rain on the road,
Wet promise of winter brings recourse to coal.
There's fire in the blood and a fog on Bras d'Or.
The Giant will rise with the moon.

'Twas the same ancient fever in the Isles of the Blest
That our fathers brought with them when they "went west."
It's the blood of the Druids that never will rest.
The giant will rise with the moon.

Chorus: so crash the glass down.  Move with the tide.
Young friends and old whiskey are burning inside.
Crash the glass down.
Fingal will rise with the moon.

In inclement weather the people are fey.
Three-thousand-year stories as the night slips away.
Remembering Fingal feels not far away.
The giant will rise with the moon.

The wind's in the north. There'll be a new moon tonight.
And we have no Circle to dance in its sight.
So light a torch, bring the bottle, and build the fire bright.
The Giant will rise with the moon.
The Piper and the Maker -- Words and music by
Mairi Campbell and David Francis, MCPS/PRS. (Track Listing)

The final verse of this brilliant song keenly describes the ephemeral, rapturous moments in which creative energy lying within the soul is unlocked, and sense of self is obliterated by something deeper, greater -- other -- pouring out through the conduit of body, voice, instrument. It is, by turns, an exhilarating, frightening, humbling, altogether addictive experience. We all seek these moments and the unexpected blessings they bring.  I owe my friendship with Alasdair Fraser -- a master enabler/creator of such moments -- to a happenstance rendition of this wonderful song.

I could hear the music playing as I came up to the door,
and once inside, I felt the beat of feet upon the floor.
Had Gow himself been there that night, he couldn't have disapproved
as sets of reels got settled in a most insistent groove.

Well, the fiddlers fired the music to each corner of the bar,
and the rhythms swung like Basie on piano and guitar.
But keening bright above the rest, the small pipes led the splore.
The call went up for dancers; Frank and Maggie took the floor.

Well, the players stopped to catch their breath, and the dancers gasped for air,
The piper stood and loosed his straps, and stowed his pipes with care.
But as he stepped toward the bar, a voice was heard to say,
"You look to me the kind of man could play a sweet strathspey."

"Well, I have that reputation, and it's kind o' you to say,
but I've got a demon thirst on me; I haven't got all day."
"Well, hold that drink one minute now, and look at what I've here:
a set of pipes worth more your time than any pint o' beer."

"For the drones are turned from boxwood, and the chanter's bound with gold."
Finest beeswax. Hand-tanned leather. Here: I'll give ye them to hold."
Well, the piper looked in wonder as those pipes came out the case.
He strapped them on, and closed his eyes, and quiet filled the place.

The Devil in the Kitchen and The Rothiemurchus Rant.
George the IVth and Stumpie and the Bob o Fettercairn
And as each strathspey outshone the rest, he swore he knew no more,
but still the tunes came tumbling out from some forgotten store.

For he played strathspeys and jigs and reels he never thought he knew,
and when at last the outpour ceased, the silence 'round him grew,
until the shock of what they'd heard from everyone did burst
with shrieks and stamps and cheers and yells, which by and by dispersed.

And as they did the piper turned and to the maker said,
"What enchantment is there here, and was it really me who played?
There's fearful stories of these things - I've heard the old folk tell.
I fear the hands that made these pipes were guided straight from Hell!"

The maker smiled at him and said, "I understand your fear.
But the wood and leather's of this Earth; no magic is there here.
I will admit these pipes could be the finest ever made,
but that would count for not one thing if they were never played."

"For there's music in them right enough and there's music in you too,
and the one requires the other if that music's to come through.
The pipes unlocked the music that was waiting in your soul.
And you unlocked the instrument and made the circle whole."
Lochanside -- Tune by John McLellan; words by Jim Malcolm, MCPS/PRS. (Track Listing)

This exquisite song of place comes from the pen of incomparable Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Malcolm, who married it to the sweetest pipe retreat ever devised.  I fell in love with it on first hearing. It has become an oft-requested staple in my repertoire ever since, a song for all seasons.

Come the winter, cold and dreary:
brings the hawk down from the high scree
to the whins where snowy hares hide
all around the Lochanside.

Come the spring, the land lies weary
'til the sun shines out so cheery:
brings the bloom, for all of Junečs pride
all around the Lochanside

If you'd been youčd have seen the scatter
O the peezies očer the machair
When above the tawny owl glides
All around the Lochanside

And the heron he comes a-creeping
Through the rashes so green and dreeping
to the pool where wily trout slide
All around the Lochanside

Aye if you ever have a reason
To be here in any season
Come and try the barley bree in
Round the fire on Lochanside

Summer time the fish are louping
Dippers in the burnies couping
Swallows fly from dawn til evens-tide
All around the Lochanside

By the autumn the pinks are winging
Blaeberries očer the moors are hanging
Salmon through the surging spate fight
All around the Lochanside

If yečd been yečd have seen the scatter
O the peezies očer the machair
When above the tawny owl glides
All around the Lochanside

Aye if you ever have a reason
To be here in any season
Come and try the barley bree in
Round the fire on Lochanside

Aye if you ever have a notion
To be welcomed with devotion
Travel home očer any ocean
To be here on Lochanside
The Road to Clady -- Traditional. (Track Listing)

This jaunty song appears to be a variation of a Scottish song called The Soor Mulk Cairt, written by Thomas Johnstone in the late 1800s. This version hails from South Armagh in Northern Ireland.  I learned it from the singing of the late Eithne Ni Uallachain. Though the tune is in a minor key, the lyrics are anything but sad!

I am a country servant serving in Collon
in a place they call New Hamilton, a grand old-fashioned town;
'twas early in the morning at the hour of three
When I set off for Clady, the old grey mare and me.

In the corner of the street, a bus I chanced to pass,
and in the corner of the bus I spied a country lass.
Says I, "My pretty fair maid, come along with me.
I'm going the road to Clady, the old grey mare and me."

Chorus: Cheeks as red as roses, eyes a bonny blue,
dancing, dancing pierced me through and through.
She fairly won my fancy, stole away my heart,
jogging along to Clady on the sour milk cart.

I asked her up beside me and on the cart she sat.
I slipped an arm around her waist and soon began to chat.
The birds in the bushes, sweetly they did sing;
the blackbirds and the thrushes, how they made a forest ring.


Well you've heard of lords and ladies making love in shady bowers,
and how they woo awhile among the roses and the flowers.
I'll never forget that morning when Cupid shot his dart,
jogging along to Clady on the sour milk cart.

Hush -- Smile in Your Sleep, Words and music Jim McLean, Duart Music, MCPS/PRS. (Track Listing)

I learned this song from fine Scottish singer Aimee Leonard during the Stromness (now Orkney) Folk Festival in 1996. Though it sounds traditional, it is in fact modern, written by gifted songwriter Jim McLean. Cloaked in quietude, it conveys the devastation wrought by the Highland Clearances, when thousands of families were forcibly expelled from their homes and put on emigration ships bound for the Americas.  Ostensibly a comforting lullaby, it is more truly a susurrus of profound anguish.

Chorus: Hush, hush; time to be sleeping.
Hush, hush; dreams come a creeping.
Dreams of peace and of freedom,
so smile in your sleep, bonnie baby.

Once our valleys were ringing,
with sounds of our children singing,
but, now, sheep bleat till the evening,
and shielings lie empty and broken.

Chorus Where was our proud Highland mettle?
Our men, once so famed in battle,
now stand cowed, huddled like cattle,
and soon to be shipped o'er the ocean.

We stood with heads bowed in prayer
while factors laid our cottages bare.
The flames licked the clear mountain air,
and many were dead by the morning.

No use pleading or praying now;
gone, gone, all hope of staying.
So hush, hush; the anchors a-weighing,
Don't cry in your sleep, bonnie baby.

Keg of Brandy -- Words and music by Robbie O'Connell, Slievenamon Music, BMI; administered by Cappal Beag Music, BMI. (Track Listing)

A wistful cautionary song from great singer-songwriter Robbie O'Connell about the power of self-delusion and drink. I learned this in the late 1980s, and it has remained a much-requested staple in my repertoire. People are always surprised to learn that this is not a traditional song, a great compliment to the composer!

I'm always drunk and I'm seldom sober.
I'm constant rovin' from town to town.
Ah, but I'm old now, my sporting's over.
So, Molly, a stor, won't you lay me down?

Chorus: Just lay my head on a keg of brandy.
It is my fancy, I do declare;
for while I'm drinkin', I'm always thinkin'
On lovely Molly, from the County Clare.

For the ripest apple is the soonest rotten,
and the warmest love is the soonest cold,
and a young man's fancy is soon forgotten,
so beware young maids, and don't make so bold.


It's youth and folly makes young men marry
And makes them tarry a long, long day
What can't be cured, love, must be endured love
So farewell darling, I'm going away

The Love of the Land -- Words and music by
Robbie O'Connell, Slievenamon Music, BMI; administered by Cappal Beag Music, BMI. (Track Listing)

This bittersweet song continues to resonate strongly within me, ten years after I first learned it from the singing of Robbie O'Connell. It reminds me powerfully of childhood visits to my grandparents' farm in northern Michigan. Thankfully, the farm is still in the family's possession, for I could not abide the loss of it.  Dedicated to the memory of my grandparents, John and Alice Kooyer.

I was born on the land like my father before me,
and I worked on it year after year.
Through all kinds of weather, in summer, in winter,
right or wrong, we persevered.
And I'll always remember the feel of the soil
in the spring, when we broke the first ground.
And the smell of the hay in the barn in the fall
brings my childhood years all back around.

Chorus: Ah, but all that is lost now, it's locked up in memory,
and I wonder can you understand?
When your life is torn up by the roots and discarded,
all you've left is the love of the land.
All you've left is the love of the land.

As a child I was given my own patch of garden,
where I learned all the secrets of life.
As I'd wander the land in the cool of the evening,
in search of adventures, I'd ride.
Sometimes, the weather would give us a battle,
but we took it all in our stride,
for we knew in the end, it would all come out even;
we'd make up the losses next time.


But somewhere, the big wheels, they slowly were grinding,
pushed on by a power of greed.
And, little by little, they ground us all under,
destroying both flower and seed.
And what do you say to your wife and your family
when you've nothing, not even a plan?
And where do you go when you're faced with foreclosure,
and the bank says you must leave the land?