By Zac Leger

STORY_GIRL_-_GOTHARD_SISTERSThe Gothard Sisters are three siblings from Edmonds, WA who perform traditional and contemporary music and dance. Highly skilled musicians and dancers, Greta (25), Willow (23) and Solana (16) have been performing and recording together for much of their lives and this comes through strongly in their music and arranging. Their new album, Story Girl, features many of the ideas and pieces the girls have developed over the last few years of a rigorous touring schedule across the U.S and Canada. All three sisters trained from an early age in the violin and while trio string arrangements are a hallmark of their playing, they are all multi-instrumentalists and singers as well as champion Irish step dancers. Because they come from a background steeped in many influences, the new album doesn’t fall strictly into any one genre but instead features both Irish, Scottish, Americana and Classical ideas intertwined in a number of self-composed tunes along with a few fresh takes of older traditional material.

The album opens with the Medieval sounding, The Sailor and the Mermaid, which ends up as a playful pan-Celtic sounding piece before venturing on into Gypsy violin inspired lines, with multiple fiddle harmonies weaving in and out. Solana acts as the sisters’ lead singer and her high, sweet voice helps anchor innovative arrangements of oft recorded songs like Patrick Kavanagh’s poem, Raglan Road , A Man you Don’t Meet Every Day (recast as A Girl you Don’t Meet Every Day) and a haunting version of Scarborough Fair which floats above multiple rhythmic violin lines. The Celebration Reel reflects the girls’ history as competitive Irish Dancers and several of the tune sets feature the girls laying down hard shoe steps as added percussion. The atmospheric, Willow’s Waltz opens with harmony fiddles plucked pizzicato, later joined by Willow Gothard’s lilting mandolin playing and with its strains of Bluegrass and Old-Time influences is very much the sort of piece you could hear being used in a film or television soundtrack. The Three Coins features the girls multi-tracking dance taps over a very Scottish sounding composition while, Lucille ventures into folk rock territory with the addition of subtle drums and bass. The album ends with a lovely version of Fields of Athenry, a song that is often overdone by many groups but here sounds like a string quartet married to an Appalachian mountain ballad, before moving into the optimistic Marching On, another composition from the girls featuring fiddles, drums and solid rhythm guitar work from Greta Gothard.

The sisters have said that they purposefully worked on making each track unique on this CD and they have certainly succeeded in creating an album of well produced, standout selections that still manages to work as cohesive whole. While not technically released as a “Holiday” themed album, this is one of those perfect recordings to play around the house on a cold winter’s night, preferably with a cheery fire crackling in the fireplace.

Story Girl is available from cdbaby.com, amazon.com, iTunes and through the sisters website.

Zac Leger has toured, performed and taught music all over the U.S., Canada and Ireland, and currently resides in Los Angeles.  He has won numerous medals on various instruments from both the U.S. and Ireland, and is one of the few Americans to hold a prestigious All-Ireland medal on the uilleann pipes. Zac has recorded on over a dozen albums and has played, recorded and performed with numerous world-renowned musicians, including Eileen Ivers, Jamie Laval, and the Irish-based show “Celtic Crossroads.”