Padrig Sicard (bombarde, violin, whistle) played in the past with Alan Stivell, Ogham, Dancing Feet and in diverse "bagads" (drum.pipe and bombarde groups). Yann Carou is flutist and bagpipe player with Kurun and others. They are Bretons.
The roots of Llew (guitar, bouzouki) and Mara Kiek (vocals, tampan) lie in Australia, but go back to Celtic as well as Macedonian. Together with Steve Elphick (and saxophonists Paul Cutlan and Andrew Robson) they form the group Mara!.
Somewhere between Sydney and Kemper these musicians meet and decided to casually work together. The result is more than satisfying: a magic melting pot of Breton, Irish, Scottish, Macedonian, Bulgarian and their own compositions. Amalgamations like these are not new (eg Andy Irvine, Eric Marchand & Taraf de Carancebes). But the power of CrossRoads is that it is not forced, and in fact sounds very natural. Thus a bombarde sounds very true in a Bulgarian horo (Mari Mariko) which merges into an Irish jig.
Another beautiful example is the first track An Hini dilezet/Sadila Jana. These are two existing traditional tunes from Bretagne and from Macedonia, but with near equivalent structures. In the performance of Crossroads the two melodies flow seamlessly together.
Mara displays beautifully and extensively her perfect voice control. In an Irish ballad she sounds as if her cradle stood in Connamara itself with her typical phrasing and nasal sound. In the Balkan songs you swear you are listening to a Bulgarian singer. And just as easily a Breton song emerges from her vocal cords.
The accompaniment is varied, fascinating and well arranged. The European Union is on this beautiful album (and) is musically already a fact.
Reviewed by Marcus Roeting (Belgium)