Laurel Martin


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Read the Full Reviews of the Groves

Boston Irish Reporter, January 2007

The Irish Music Magazine, March 2007

Fiddler Magazine, Spring 2007

The Boston Irish Reporter, January 2007 ~ Susan Gedutis Lindsay

Laurel Martin • The Groves
This CD proves the immense talent that resides right under our noses in Boston. Fiddler Laurel Martin teaches at Wellesley College and performs with Childsplay, as well as on her own. This is a soulful, unpretentious recording, and the fiddle sound is superb—a natural, warm, and acoustic sound in which you feel you’re right in the room with her, making for a recording that is wholly personal and welcoming. She does a particularly moving interpretation of the slow air Gol na mBan Sn Ár, and moves lithely into a set of reels kicked off by Man of the House, also including an inventive interpretation of Fahey’s. Beth Sweeney’s piano accompaniment is sparse and harmonic, rather than heavy and rhythmic, and is the ideal support for Martin’s masterful melody playing. Guitarist Mark Simos and harpist Kathleen Guilday provide equally complementary support other tracks. The fiddle breathes easily through reels, jigs, set dances, and hornpipes—many of which are very intricate tunes played at a healthy pace.

The Groves' was chosen by the Boston Irish Reporter as one of the top ten traditional Irish CDs for 2006! ~ Susan Gedutis Lindsay,
#5. Laurel Martin
• The Groves. (
Boston based Laurel Martin studied under fiddler Seamus Connolly. The recording captures an acoustic sound that is unpretentious and honest, supported by sensitive piano accompaniment from Beth Sweeney. Simple, understated elegance.

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The Irish Music Magazine, March 2007 ~ Sally Sommers Smith

The Groves: Traditional Irish Music Laurel Martin, fiddle. With Séamus Connolly, Elizabeth Sweeney, Benedict Koehler, Hilari Farrington, Kathleen Guilday, Mark Simos, and Nathaniel Martin. 13 tracks, 46: 21. Self-published,

Here’s a quick quiz: where do Sligo and Clare meet? Don’t reach for your map of Ireland to answer this question; instead, look to the northwest of Boston, where fiddler Laurel Martin lives, teaches, and makes her wonderful music. The Groves is Laurel’s first solo recording, and is a much-anticipated event for those who know and appreciate her unique approach to Irish traditional music. For those who do not yet know her, The Groves is an excellent introduction to a musician who draws inspiration equally from the emigrant Sligo fiddlers of the early twentieth century, from Clare musician Paddy Canny, and from her friend and mentor Séamus Connolly. But Laurel’s music is far more than the sum of its parts. She brings both a gentle touch and a penetrating intelligence to this music that is apparent not only in the choice of tunes for this recording but also in the settings of the tunes and in their accompaniment. Laurel’s playing at first draws the listener in with a sense of quiet joy, and then proceeds to surprise and delight at every turn. Her medley of “Lady Gordon/Old Lord Gordon”, for example, artfully showcases the older, rarely played tune from which Michael Coleman crafted his version of “Lord Gordon”. The slow air “Gol na mBan San Ár” is played simply and starkly, accompanied only by haunting bass. This is assured and masterful performance, but presented as simply as an invitation to a cup of tea by the fire. Laurel is ably supported on this recording by a constellation of Boston-area traditional stars, but it is her individual voice that shines. A highly recommended debut recording; the listener is left looking forward to Laurel Martin’s next trip to the recording studio.

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Fiddler Magazine, Spring 2007 ~ Brendan Taaffe

It was said of Fred Finn, the famous Sligo fiddler, that he was the kind of musician that would draw you in. No pyrotechnics for Fred — rather, he dwelt inside the tunes and brought their lyricism and melancholy to the fore. That's high praise for a musician, and much the same could be said of Laurel Martin, the Boston-based fiddler who has just brought out this well-crafted and entirely engaging debut album. She's joined by a number of talented musicians, including her son Nathaniel Martin on bass, Seamus Connolly on fiddle, Beth Sweeney on piano, Mark Simos on guitar, Benedict Koehler on pipes, and Hilari Farrington on harp. They are all appropriately excellent, but what's so engaging about the album is Laurel's lyrical approach to Irish dance music, clearly influenced by the music of Clare and East Galway — drawing the "undercurrent of sorrow" out of the jigs and reels and always keeping the melody to the fore. Her fiddling is good enough that you don't notice it much — the tune always comes first, and the arrangements on the album keep everything interesting. The fiddle duet with Seamus Connolly on "Lady Gordon's" and "Lord Gordon's" is mighty stuff. Beth Sweeney's piano playing is particularly notable, the tracks with pipes and harp are lovely, and the use of bass to imitate piping drones on the slow air is well done. But I had never before noticed the sad reflectiveness to be found in the reel Laurel calls "Man of the House" (not the more common tune of the same name), and that feels like a gift indeed. Straight-up trad in a Clare kind of way, and very well done. 

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