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Talitha MacKenzie

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Updated traditional/world music


Most recent release, Indian Summer (2007)

See also:

Talitha MacKenzie's site

Wikipedia's entry for Talitha MacKenzie

The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for Mouth Music, a band Talitha MacKenzie participated in at one time


Mouth Music; more updated than bands like Capercaillie generally are

Covers/own material:

Traditional material

General comments:

Talitha MacKenzie has a lovely, strong voice and her music is wonderfully updated energetic versions of traditional material which still retain their emotional power. This makes a wonderful combination—highly listenable and fun, but with depth and history behind it. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

Sólas is my favourite of the two 90s albums; it's the most energetic of the two. (Neile)


  1. Shantyman! (as Talitha Nelson, 1986)
  2. Sólas [Solace] (1994)
  3. Spiorad [Spirit] (1996)
  4. Indian Summer (2007)

Sólas [Solace]

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Talitha MacKenzie—vocals, keyboard, piano, gong-kogwi, keyboard bass, kalimba

Guest artists:

Chris Birkett—programming, keyboard, percussion (1, 3, 5, 8); vocals (1, 8); extended vocal technique (5)
Gary Spacey-Foote—flute (1)
Ian Plested—vocals (1; backing vocals (8)
Iain McKinna—programmed drums (2, 7, 10); bass, guitar (2, 7); backing vocals (7); duck-call, cow sounds (10)
Dave Aitch—rainmaker (2, 7); talking drum (2, 9); tambourine (2, 10); dumbek, flexitone, vibraslap (2); chimes, cymbals, shakes, finger cymbals, guario (7); timbales (7, 10); axatse (7, 9); bongos (9, 10); toms, casisi, dumbek (9); congas, maracas, triangle, cuica, claves, funky bird pipe, samba whistle, splash cymbals, cowbell (10)
Moray Rumney, Gavin Marwick—fiddles(2)
Richard Allan—sax(2)
Jim Walker—military drum (2)
Thursa Sanderson, Zoé Capernaros, Jenny Haswell, Karen Berger, Dolfin, Jan Fairley, Rachel Harrison—backing vocals (4, 9)
Gary West—pipe drone (6)
Mike Nolan—piano (7) keyboard (7, 10)
Alasdair McLeod Moray Rumney—backing vocals (9); clársach (11)
Ross MacKenzzie—voice over (10, 11)

Produced by:

Iain McKinna, Chris Birkett, Iain McKinna & Talitha MacKenzie


I was really disappointed with this the first time through, but the second time I found I really liked it. Without knowing any of the background, I had always assumed that Talitha left Mouth Music because she wanted to return to more traditional music. Obviously I was wrong! This is Talitha doing the exact same sort of stuff she was doing with Mouth Music...very traditional vocals with "modern" music. I can't help but think that she should have stayed with Martin Swan, because his music was better than what's on this album. The situation is bizarre, and though it's none of my business, I'd really like to know why they parted ways. I'd also like to know what Swan thinks of this album, because there are 2 (count 'em!) 2 different versions of "Sienn Oi!" on here. One is actually called "Sienn Oi!" and the other isn't, but it's the same tune. What's weird is that she doesn't credit Martin Swan *anywhere* on this album. Ah well, I'm glad I got it, because I would have wondered what it was like. I have been wondering! And, one can't have too many versions of "Sienn Oi!" no matter whose album it's on, and I actually like this version best of all. Her voice is stronger, she sings faster and the whole song is centered around the vocals in a way that it wasn't in Mouth Music's version. (

It is that indeed. Excellent, that is. woj commented that her music is what Mouth Music should have done, and I agree wholeheartedly. Anyone who is a fan of Mouth Music's first album (i.e. when Talitha was part of the project) must have this one. (

Spiorad [Spirit]

Release info:




Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of updated traditional material

Group members:

Talitha MacKenzie—vocals, keyboard, accordion, shout, alto recorder, dancing feet, clèrsach, keyboard piano, chimes, flute, keyboard horns, harpsichord

Guest artists:

Chris Burkett—backing vocals, vocal percussion, laud, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard bass, keyboard flute, string, marimba, accordion, kalimba, congas, shakers, tambourine, cow bell, drum kit, programmed percussion, triangle, darajuka, keyboard drone, bass, percussion, wail of desperation, pow wow toms, Birksted wombat wobbleboard, thumb percussion, claps, cymbals, floor toms, cabasa, whistling, sheep bleats, keyboard accordion, bell, bowed sitar, African drum
Bimbo Acock—saxophones
Nico Miranda—6-string fretless bass, 6-string fretless guitar, 4-string fretless bass
François "Bubu" Boirie—electric violin, fiddle, fiddle drone
James MacDonald Reid—kaval, gajda, whisper vox, Scottish pipe chanter, backing vocals, Scottish pipes
Ian Plested—keyboard drone
Gerlof Lenten—didjeridoo
Jan Burkett—dancing feet
Jim Birkett—recording of crackling fire
May Birkett—rocking chair

Produced by:

Chris Burkett


the music is, to my ears, not truly traditional. i certainly agree that it is not very experimental, but give a listen to (just for example) a good Altan album, and then tell me that real celtic trad is relaxing background music... ;) i'd categorize Spiorad as, like, world-lite. pleasant, without doubt, but tending towards the obvious world-beat droney groove thing... i do like some of the caribbean-rim dub-cajun sort of touches—i just wish they'd pushed it all a bit harder... (

I quite like it, but thus far it's in the category of things I would listen to when working *hard*—it's relaxing, but it doesn't really grab my attention. Talitha MacKenzie's voice is just drop-dead gorgeous—clear and precise. But the music seems to my untrained ear to be very much in the traditional Celtic line, not very experimental. All the lyrics are in Gaelic (with a few exceptions like Breton but none in English). She does use some Bulgarian and Serbian tunes as well. The booklet has translations and original lyrics, and the kinds of photos you'd expect in a travel brochure luring you away to That Bonny Land.
     I bought Spoirad on a whim because I'm absolutely blown away by her "MacKenzie Lullaby" on Celtic Twilight 2 (a CD that's a lot more than "background music" but I can really concentrate on attempting to write brilliant prose with this on). But so far no single tune on Spiorad really compares with that one—sometimes it takes a lot of listens, though, and I haven't done that yet. (

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