Releases > Releases October 2017

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The Thomas Moore Project
MOSCODISC MOSCD4015, 11 Tracks, 40 Minutes
Robert Ballagh’s brilliant portrait of Eleanor McEvoy decorates the album sleeve notes on a recording where only this woman’s touch could take the work of a 19th Century poet and singer, and make it contemporarily engaging, relevant and sustaining.
Eleanor McEvoy’s talent, musical dexterity and great vocal range, revivifies with zest, the songs of Thomas Moore. She has revitalised the lyrics, the melodies, even the sombre themes of grief, pain and heartbreak are transformed into loving tributes and eulogies. Eleanor McEvoy is emotionally invested in the work. Her style, insight and passion illumine Moore’s poetry in a way that has not been previously achieved.
With highly accomplished musicians Eoghan O’Neill, Guy Rickerby, Damon Butcher, Eamonn Nolan and Ciaran Byrne, she takes the well known Oft in the Stilly Night and gives it a rousing staccato treatment at the outset, then rocks it up innovatively. The Last Rose of Summer is haunting, with quirks of voice and pace enhancing it. A lesser-known beautiful song is Come Send Round The Wine, refreshed with the McEvoy Treatment: lilting chorus, harmonies, clapping, the lone voice, ghostly echoes and percussive delights, this is one of her finest.
The Minstrel Boy is no longer a marching tune, it is almost unrecognisable, an ethereal arrangement of vocals and accompanists. She is similarly innovative in Believe Me if all Those Endearing Young Charms. There is an incantatory, almost spiritual tinge to her Breathe Not His Name, the penultimate song, a fitting build up to the rousing final track The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls, a zestful, declarative, sweeping finish to this highly accomplished work with a rousing chorus supplied by The Minstrel Rabble. The Thomas Moore Project was launched July 28th and is available on iTunes at
Anne Marie Kennedy

From Camden to Tulla
LoLa Records LL008, 15 Tracks, 45 Minutes and
From different backgrounds but united in their respect and admiration for Irish traditional music - and their exceptional skill in its performance - these three well known musicians combine button box, fiddle and piano accompaniment to produce a warm and welcoming sound.
One of the things I particularly like about this CD is that anyone can pick up a flute or whistle and play along with almost every track here, just like having a session in your pocket: the tunes are familiar, the pace is relaxed, the keys and compass are easily accommodated on most instruments, and there are very few surprises. From the opening notes of The Earl’s Chair to the last chord of The Maid on the Green, this trio plays in a sympathetic and accessible way, whilst still producing an astonishingly high standard of performance. There’s no grandstanding, no flights of fancy, just masterly renditions of some grand old tunes with that lift and vivacity born of a deep love and understanding of the music.
Andrew MacNamara comes from a strong Clare background in traditional music, and has played in a band or two around Tulla. His button box style is old school, not too flashy, tight and rhythmic as you can hear on the pair of imported hornpipes The Jolly Beggarman and The Showman’s Fancy, or indeed on the two schottisches towards the end of this recording.
Karen Ryan’s roots are in Galway and Mayo, but she brings a lifetime of London session experience to her playing, producing airtight duets with assured fiddling, and lovely touches such as the ringing back strings on Whelan’s Jig and Tom Steele’s Reel. Pianist Pete Quinn, formerly with the London Lasses but steeped in many styles of music from his Merseyside childhood to his concert hall jazz, vamps and harmonises discreetly behind all these tunes, always adding, never taking away.
Jigs and reels, the set dance Rodney’s Glory famed in song, old chestnuts like The Kid on the Mountain or The High Reel, rarer melodies such as O’Rourke’s and Imelda Roland’s, all flow from this trio like poitín from a well-tended still, powerful and intoxicating. The climactic set of reels revolves around the key of Eb, three great melodies worth the effort of shifting or transposing: The Custom House, The Honeymoon, and Brendan McMahon’s, ending with a little bit of double-octave harmony as a final flourish on this very fine album.
Alex Monaghan

Down the Strand
Own Label TM1001, 12 Tracks, 42 Minutes
Therese McInerney, fiddle, with Brian Donnellan, piano and bouzouki, and Sharon Howley on cello. For a debut album, this is pretty impressive stuff; it is a goodly gulp of the pure drop. If you hadn’t guessed it from the surname, Therese will soon leave you in no doubt that she’s Clare through to the bone marrow, and every reason to be proud of it. The dozen tracks include three songs with the Irish language Casadh an tSúgáin a special bonus.
The times they are a-changin’ and you can hear this with the way the piano has made a comeback as accompanying instrument not just in the songs but in the reels as well. Another sign of the times is the way she gives a reference online to a classical article on bow-hold: it certainly wasn’t lost on her, as you can hear with the rock-sure tone. Her fiddle was made by Jim McKillop; one suspects it was always destined to play trad.
There’s a good selection of tunes, ones like the Crib of Perches or the Connaghtman’s Rambles, with older ones like Sgt Earley’s, which she links with the title track. The sleeve notes are brief but succinctly informative, linking for example the hop jig Cucanandy with the singing of Bess Cronin. Scholarship is in evidence here in the shape of Dunphy’s hornpipe which she has transposed; it runs lightly over a rhythmic piano base, the piano adding little runs a bar or two at a time, the effect here is close to Cape Breton style fiddle and piano duets. There’s a nod to American music on Andy Statman’s famous Flatbush Waltz, deep and rich fiddle tone here. On the old Bothy Band number Do You Lobe an Apple Therese is backed by piano only, taking up the fiddle on the final repeated chorus, this is one of the liveliest versions of the song I have heard.
The launch was nicely timed to coincide with the Ennis Fleadh, and reports are that all available copies sold out. Which is no more than deserved for a fine and natural musician.
John Brophy

Sweeping the Cobwebs Out Of The Sky
Own Label FMCG01, 13 Tracks, 36 Minutes
There are 22 tunes on this 13 tracks album, and on the face of it you might think they are from a standard repertoire, with titles such as Sean Ryan’s, Tommy Coen’s and The Moving Clouds. Yet there is nothing ordinary in the flute playing of Fergus McGorman.
My first impression was of precision and clarity. His tone is bright, the transitions are smooth, tunes flow freely and cleanly, fast pieces such as the jig The Knights of Saint Patrick hold their rhythm yet are not tied to the floor, neither do they run away with him. The O’Carolan tune Dr. John Hart is unusual, perhaps the simplest melody on the album, its simplicity being the challenge, written for a resonant harp, how do you translate that to the flute? Fergus rises to the task and produces a sparse but compelling appreciation of this 300-year-old air. The piano accompaniment from Paddy McEvoy is always sensitive, never intruding on the tunes, keeping the beat perfectly on the reels Molly From Longford and Rodney Miller’s. Ruairi McGorman adds the tri-chorda Greek bouzouki, an instrument, which like the piano is having resurgence in traditional music, as it is being rediscovered by this new generation of musicians.
The title track Sweeping The Cobwebs Out of the Sky has been in the family for some time; his Mother Catherine McEvoy has a version of it, but Fergus went back to a 1991 album of piper Liam O Flynn’s for the tune. That attention to detail in sourcing tunes and their back stories is another positive feature of this work.
The album comes with testimonials from some giants of the tradition, James Kelly describing it as “A wonderful collection of complicated and beautiful tunes played masterfully on concert flute by Fergus with thoughtful accompaniment”. Matt Molloy’s observation is “He speaks in his own musical voice with a maturity that belies his years”. I’ll leave the last comment to my old pal Séamus Tansey who says the album is “A breath of fresh air… a shot in the arm, and a light in the tunnel”. And you’d be mad to argue with Tansey.
Seán Laffey

The Stepping Stone
Own Label, 8 Tracks, 35 Minutes
A short but intriguing album of music mainly on cello - a first for Irish music I think – this debut CD by Alec Brown is far from solo but very much his own, distinguishing it from his recent band recordings with Sean’s Walk and Pine Marten. The cello takes the lead on several numbers including the opening Wee Michael’s March - actually a modern Scottish tune, written by fiddler John McCusker - and the following Brown jig and Liz Carroll reel. On this track, Alec is joined by Aisling Drost Byrne and Seán Ó Dálaigh on fiddles and Finn Harper on accordion, buddies from his recent time in Limerick I’m guessing.
Alec Brown’s background is in classical cello, born and raised in Arkansas, moving through blues and bluegrass to meet catalytic cellist converter Natalie Haas who brought him over to the dark side of Scottish and Irish music. So much so that Alec moved to Limerick in 2010 to have a serious stab at Irish music, and hasn’t looked back.
I’d describe most of the music here as modern Celtic rather than traditional Irish: the accompaniment is funky with a classical edge, and the melodies are freely interpreted by Brown and friends. Fluters Niall Keegan and Conor Crimmins and keyboard fiend Tadhg Ó Meachair play with new tradish tunes like Brendan Power’s Jig Jazz and Paul Kelly’s reel The Dresden, as well as jazzing up old favourites such as The Lonesome Jig and Julia Delaney.
The traditional reel Man of the House and Paddy O’Brien’s The Ormond Sound become almost folk rock with a chopping and grinding cello bass line reminiscent of Lordi. The slow air and ragtime reel medley Spreagadh brings in everything from Mongolian temple music to Montreal jazz. The set of jigs, which follows, is another low grinding number on cello and box, but one of the more traditional tracks here.
The last few pieces are more contemporary, with additional accompaniment from Conal O’Kane and Dermot Sheedy accentuating the beat, culminating in a very Newgrass take on The Ashplant which would fit well on an album by Darol Anger or Casey Driessen. The Stepping Stone is somewhere on that crossing from Americana to Irish, and makes an interesting contribution to the growing volume of Celtic music on cello.
Alex Monaghan

Spring Days
Klam records KR05, 11 Tracks, 53 Minutes
Two Erwans here, Erwan Menguy on wooden flute and Erwan Berenguer on guitar and cittern. The duo is from Western Fance and the album was recorded in Brittany at the Kerguestenen studios; it is a mixture of Irish traditional tunes, a few new compositions and some Breton tunes. Eclectic!
The album begins with a guitar introduction, rock solid chords and fills building the tension for the flute to offer up the melody of The Forgotten Jig, a composition by Menguy. It’s obvious from the first few notes this is extraordinary flute playing, with fluttering breathy trills and moments of passing nyah, the tune moves into John Kelly’s and closes on Adenza’s Storm, jazzy in places, echoes of Brian Finnegan and Mike McGoldrick, modern masters; Erwan Menguy can hold his own with either of them.
De Mina feels Arabic, a pure-flute solo, a call from a Minaret, when the guitar joins the geography ships to the Balkans; this is the longest most complex selection here running at over 7 minutes. They come back home to Brittany on A Greiz Galon opening on single picked notes on the guitar before the customary hypnotic Breton dance takes us away on circling swirling Fest noz.
They begin Joe Coleys (a typo for Joe Cooley’s reel) all laid back and languid before picking up the pace on the Morning Dew and The Hut in the Bog. Erwan Menguy has the technique to find other dimensions in these tunes, moments of variation flicker by like the shadow of a moth in streetlight. They can do the slow and emotive too, Melodie Féon has a very continental feeling to it; the backing is sparse allowing the flute to climb at will into the upper register. The album closes with an Irish slow air Cailin Na Griaige Báine, an emotional ending to a very fine album indeed. If you are a flute player this is one for your collection, it will challenge you on so many (good) levels.
Seán Laffey

Live at De Parel Van Zuilen
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
This live recording of three-part harmony songsters The Lasses with Kathryn Claire offers up an emotive mix of originals and folk classics.
The Lasses, who are Dutch folk duo Sophie Jenna and Margot Merah, met American musician Kathryn Claire four years ago in a singing session in the famous Mulligan’s Irish Bar in Amsterdam. Since then, they have honed their harmony lines and hand-crafted songs to deliver on this album a treat for the audience, both at home and for those who were lucky enough to be in attendance for this live recording, titled Live at De Parel Van Zuilen.
The album begins with an introduction for the three ladies, who then kick off the set and the album with a song by Sophie and Margot, Snow. The melancholic air finds the three voices perfectly in sync with each other from the outset, (though the levels on the guitar could have been taken down a fraction during their sound check). By the second song Hanging Round, the sound engineer had balanced the guitar to blend in with the vocals, which offer up a richness that carries across the spectrum of the album on songs like Nightfall, the traditional Horo Johnny and the poignant Craigie Hill, which the girls mould into somewhat of a unique version. One of the great songwriters, the late Cyril Tawney, is honoured here with a version of Grey Funnel Line, which has definitely been replayed more than a few times already.
The fiddle could have come into play a bit more across the album, but this is essentially a live recording which is about the voices and the harmonies they produce and the calls for more at the end of the recording will no doubt be answered by The Lasses and Kathryn Claire. If you are ever in Mulligan’s check out when the girls are singing in the upstairs backroom snug.
Derek Copley

The Things That Matter
Own Label, 6 Tracks, 18 Minutes
The 19th Street Band was formed when guitarist/singer Caolaidhe Davis moved to America from Holywood, Northern Ireland in 2005 to pursue his musical career. When he found himself in need of a fiddle player, he met his future wife Meghan, who is classically trained. They began to write and perform original material, and form the nucleus of the band.
The other permanent members are drummer Patty Dougherty and bass player Brian White; with two tracks augmented by banjo. All the material is self-penned, and the 6 tracks on this CD showcase their talents enough to leave you wanting to hear more – it’s a pleasing, well-crafted debut with a lot of energy in the songs, which would probably best be described as country folk-rock. The opener, Jump In The Water, features close harmony vocals from Caolaidhe and Meghan and has a nice lively feel (a hallmark of their sound), as well as very melodic fiddle playing from Meghan. Long Runs The Fox features some rootsy slide guitar and has more of an acoustic blues feel with Meghan taking the lead vocal. It’s True What They Say is a rocking minor tune with an attractive extended fiddle break. The remaining tracks continue along the same lines, until the closing track The Things That Matter which, is slightly more reflective, and builds nicely to finish off a very pleasant album. With a total running time of around 18 minutes, it leaves you wanting to hear a lot more from the 19th Street Band.
Mark Lysaght

A Sweetish Tune
Noctambule Music, 9 Tracks, 55 Minutes
I was enjoying this album too much. It couldn’t be that good. I sought a second opinion. I gave A Sweetish Tune the Facebook test. Posting up a link to Noctambule’s YouTube clip, Trip To Skye, I added the comment, “A beautiful, reflective tune to help you through your day…” Straightaway, one friend said, “Thank you…it’s beautiful”. Another responded, “It hauntingly drowned out the news. God bless you for sharing it”. So I wasn’t on my own in being won over.
Noctambule is French for “night-owl”, and the title of a work by British-Canadian poet Robert William Service. He used humour to convey stories about the Yukon. Noctambule use humour to share their love of traditional music. Noctambule are teacher and ace mandolin player Marla Fibish and psychiatrist and accomplished guitarist Bruce Victor. They certainly mess with your mind. I’m sure I’ve heard one or two of these tracks played faster, but this duo slow them right down so that a reel or a waltz becomes a deeply meaningful and reflective tune. Or maybe the song was always meant to be played that way – see how they keep you guessing? Traditional Irish mixes with new material in a similar vein. The whole album takes you on a thoughtful journey into places you knew way back, perhaps when you first started listening to this genre. There are a couple of O’Carolan tunes – Blind Mary and Mr O’Connor – which helps to earth the project in Irish soil. The duo also cover cheeky tune The Creel, which has been performed by everyone from Ewan McColl to Paul Brady. You can see anything goes here, which keeps the whole experience so entertaining and enlightening.
Amid the sweet joy and humour is James Keelaghan’s Cold Missouri Waters, an intense song about one of the worst wildfires in American history – the Mann Gulch fire of 1949 – which took the lives of 13 firefighters. Bruce Victor’s rough, crackling voice weeps with emotion as he shares this moving story of “thirteen stations of the cross to mark their fall”. The duo also set to music a love poem by Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran, Song Of The Wave. Interestingly, one line sums up Bruce and Marla’s sound – “We blend in melted brilliance”.
The couple admitted that making the album turned out to be “a wonderful journey of discovery” as they created their own interpretations, while hoping always to “honour the tradition”. It’s a great example to other artists and bands hoping to put their own stamp on the tradition. Let both sorrow and joy flow. And as long as you’re wonderfully creative about it, you won’t go far wrong.
Clive Price

I Can Hear You Calling
Scroll Music SM1710 , 12 Tracks, 48 Minutes
Anna Falkenau plays fiddle and Lena Ullman the five-string banjo, a combination which shouts American old-timey, and you’d be right to conclude that this is indeed old style American string band music. A hundred years on from some of the seminal recordings in this genre, we are left asking is it a pastiche? I got the answer before I put the disc into the CD player, a comment from Andy Irvine in the liner notes, is well worth repeating here: he recalls listening to classic recording of fiddle and banjo duets from the 1920s and concludes by saying that Anna and Lena’s music “Takes me back to the thrilling sounds I listened to in my youth”.
Anna’s previous album Féileacán na Saoirse, was universally greeted as one of the best Irish traditional albums of its year, with reviews hinting that Anna also had a penchant for American music. Now on I Can Hear You Calling we get to savour the other side of her playing. And what an accurate ear Anna has for the style of the music of the Appalachians, from saddling up the album on the opening Chilean Horsemen to Anna’s own composition Apatchy Hunting in the Garden, this is music that you could clog to on any old Kentucky porch.
Lena sings her own composition Blueberry followed by the tune Snowdrop. It’s a plaintive mountain vocal with the fiddle walking us away as the words end the song. Lena’s Fog has a rumour of ragtime as the fiddle and banjo bend notes and dance around little chopped chords on the banjo and a long drawn bow to put the track to bed. Old-timey music has its darker side too, and the pair brings this to the surface on Stranger in the Garden, and Waiting for Anna.
There are Irish tunes here, with the duo looking to Charlie Lennon for Easter Lambs and Ladies’ Choice. They fit well into the album, without distracting from the American theme of the work. With classic old-time songs such as Red Rocking Chair and Black Jack David, no wonder Andy Irvine was so thrilled by this recording.
Seán Laffey

Green Monkey Records GM1043, 13 Tracks, 45 Minutes
Some tunes you just can’t beat, and so the opening tune of Tuttle’s was enough to draw in this reviewer’s attention. Indeed, the teenage siblings of Eros and Dante Faulk from Olympia in Washington State are not afraid to get into the tune, which they say in the notes that they learnt from a workshop with James Kelly. It’s paired with The New Custom House, learnt from another fiddle master, Martin Hayes.
The duo use fiddle and cello as their main tools on the album, which they funded through a Kickstarter campaign. The recording begins, along with a tapping foot for percussion which features throughout, as well as the addition of banjo, bodhrán, guitar and vocals, all performed by the American duo.
The album has a very organic feel, with the recording earthy and natural, allowing the listener an authentic experience. The vamping cello behind fiddle on tracks like Montis Jig/Queen’s Jig/Hare in the Corn hints at a Scottish twist in the mix (a dedication to Alisdair Fraser and Natalie Haas on the album coming as no surprise), with the first two compositions of the siblings.
Their over enthusiasm at times, can be found in this particular track, when the arrangements get a bit clustered around the tunes. Other contemporary compositions include Cheese Closet, composed by their pal, Seattle musician Leo Shannon, which the brothers state in the liner notes, ‘is one of our favourite tune to play together’. Tunes like Gravel Walks highlight a rich energy, which would enhance any session, with vibrant, contemporary guitar accompaniment. As well as a wonderfully natural tone on the fiddle for the slow air, the cello equally expresses itself behind Dante’s vocals on the old time number Lazy John.
Beirt is an album of great enthusiasm for traditional music from Eros and Dante Faulk, whose classical music training brings in some interesting ideas to popular jigs and reels on this album. And don’t think this is stuffy music, watch them on YouTube, you’ve never seen cello playing like it.
Derek Copley