I believe “élan” is French for spirit, zest, joy; it’s one of those words that defy an exact translation. But, luckily, music needs to translating, human or machine, as it itself can open the essence of the word.

When harpist Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy with his guitar get together – and they have done it before, with Sparks, in 2019 – there is élan aplenty about. It’s a most fitting title for an album that sparkles with life, and the cover art reflects it nicely, too.

It’s not just that the players are excellent or that the tunes are great – both are true here – it’s the amazing way just two people can create this full and rich sound (bodhran wiz Adam Brown does also appear on some tracks).

As a matter of fact, some of my favorite Celtic albums are by an instrumental duo: Calum Stewart and Lauren MacColl’s Wooden Flute and Fiddle, and Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus’ Return to Kintailcome to mind instantly. It’s a music form that demands a lot of the people involved, and when it works, it’s amazing.

Hair and Jappy definitely succeed here, as Élan is not only bright and bubbly, it also goes to serene and contemplative places, with the dialogue between the musicians seamless; they probably even breathe in unison.

From the sheer delight of the opening, The Transatlantic Proposal, to the utterly lovely McLeods of Waipu and the very Japanese-sounding Ceò na Cailliche (reminding me of the fact that Celtic music often uses Pentatonic scales we usually associate with Asian music), Élan fully lives up to its name and I enjoyed to bits!

Original Review HERE