Releases > June 2007

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11 Tracks, SDE003

The cover picture of this third album from Slide tells a huge story, the ensemble is now five with the addition of singer, Andrew Murray who so impressed us here at IMM with his own debut album last year. The lads are pictured in a black-panelled city centre bar, half full pints on the table, instruments cocked and ready for action, flight cases bearing red fragile stickers as if the band is now ready to launch out on the world.

The album was supported by Music Network who selected the lads as talents to be watched and nurtured, there is a feeling here in Ireland that they could be the next big thing. The album title comes from track four, a song by their fiddler, Daire Bracken ‘Overneath the Moon’ it has a very contemporary feel to it and is a gentle piece with simple guitar accompaniment and whistle breaks between the verses. This in a way sets the tone for the vocal elements of the album, impeccably delivered lines by Murray in his deep tenor voice all woven into a pleasing melodic fabric. Bouzouki player, Mick Broderick can write a good contemporary song also and in Murray he’s found a voice to do justice to his lyrics on ‘Just So Far Away ‘.

Long time fans of the band will no doubt want to hear about the instrumentals, these account for about half of the album time-wise, and there’s a great feeling of space in the tunes this time out, with lead instruments being allowed to lead and also the accompaniment working in melodic cycles around the central tunes. Mick Broderick has certainly taken a leaf out of Donal Lunny’s book in that he uses the dynamics of the zook to build up complex layers of chopped counterpoint adding to the rhythmic tapestry that runs below the vibrant colours of the tune selections.

There’s some equally impressive bouzouki antics on ‘King of the Mill’ too. The opening track’Spry Slides’ demonstrates this layering in spades. If I had to select a favourite track it would be ‘Les Polkas’, this kicks off as a Breton inspired piece from Bracken which merges naturally into Sliabh Luachra polkas with Aogán Lynch on concertina rolling through the number with an understated swing. The most up-tempo set is ‘Ol’Man Lynch’ again from Lynch on the concertina, a really infectious opening tune here in ‘Poor Liza Jane’, like the Appalachian cousins decide to visit Ennis. Track ten ‘2 Minutes 2 Go’, is a much bigger more full on sound, think Altan with a concertina instead of a box.

This album is so full of good material, tastefully played, and with a genuine acoustic sound that is refreshing to hear, although we don’t get nearly enough of Eamonn DeBarra’s fine flute playing, his ‘Black Pat’s’ from Tommy Peoples is red-bull moment towards the end of the album.
In short the new five piece band are making their own music, writing their own songs, doing it all so well, like a good football team they play it wide, focus on the goal and keep the ball moving.

I expect they’ll be clocking up air their miles when this word gets out about this beauty.

Seán Laffey


Just Another Town

Bell BLCD 07 2007

Remember the days of the concept albums of the 1970’s or 1980’s where we got collections of songs built around a single idea? In Ireland we have a modern maestro of the genre but we have to look closely to identify his work as concept albums.

The Voyage was a fantastic example taking family and relationships as he motif. Duhan has returned with an even better collection of songs on this new album where the town and its inhabitants are at the heart of the wonderful compositions sung in his own inimitable style.

Opening with the beautiful ‘Another Morning’ we awake into a musical landscape that will be familiar to all. The one track I recall from another performer is the enthralling and absolutely profound portrait of urban life called ‘Always Remember’. If the adage that Dublin could be rebuilt from Ulysses then in a few centuries this song could show students of social history the very real ingredients of any town and its people.

Johnny Duhan not only gives us exceptional quality he is generous in the quantity of songs on offer with seventeen tracks on offer on this CD. In The Garden’ he reminds the listener of the people of the town and the ordinary innocent pleasures of adolescent life in unsentimental lyrics. A lush string arrangement introduces us to the title track. Again Duhan draws lyrical portraits of very real people with their flaws and foibles. Listening to the track you can feel the chill of evening as he sings of the sun going down on the myriad scenes of town life. A simple track listing will give an indication of the diversity of songs on offer. And these include, ‘Mary’, ‘Benediction’, ‘Daredevil’, and ‘The River Shannon’

One of my favourites among 17 favourites is ‘One Hundred Miles’. Like all Duhan’s songs it is simple and deep in equal measures. The language is simple but tunes and the musical arrangement and accompaniment combine to make even this four-minute tale of a person living away from home memorable.

Listen to ‘Young Mothers’ and you are transported to the reality of everyday life once more. We all know these people but could never express the vision as Johnny Duhan does.

This is one of the best albums that will be on sale in 2007 and it is all the more valuable in coming from Ireland and from the genius of one songwriter who is sadly underrated in his own land. If enough airplays were given to any single track here he would be a superstar. As for now you have the chance to acquire a masterpiece ahead of the crowd.

Nicky Rossiter

Visit Johnny Duhan’s web site



GHCD03; 15 tracks; 57 minutes

This is the third album from Grainne Hambly, who comes from Claremorris in County Mayo. She also plays concertina, and has a Master’s degree from Queen’s University. Both these facts are relevant. She has the flow and drive of someone who plays a sustained-note instrument, and she has the dedication and expertise to research her material thoroughly.

The title track is from a set of slip jigs. Carolan must feature on any harp collection, but there’s a sense of adventure her in choosing a comic number like Carolan’s Fight with the Landlady. Myself, I take it a tad faster on sopranino recorder for the satirical effect.

There’s a fine line to be trod between allowing the natural resonance of the instrument to sound out, and taking everything so slow that the music becomes dull and lifeless. The only guide is experience and natural good taste, and Grainne has both.

She also has a rock solid technique: even on the hornpipes there’s not a note fudged anywhere, nor any hesitancy at the tune changes in the jigs. And if you listen to the immaculate triplets in the final track, Green Groves of Erin, you’ll hear real class.

With any kind of music, there’s a challenge to get beyond the notes: Grainne has a stately interpretation of Port na bPucaí which definitely echoes Tony MacMahon’s version. It’s a delightful collection full of craftsmanship and care, and something that any true musician should savour.

John Brophy

Visit Grainne Hambly’s web site



15 tracks

There’s still an expectation that an Irish musician should live somewhere high up a mountain and only be lured down out of the drizzle to play the last strains of a lost melody on dole day. If there are any such left, they are greatly outnumbered by sturdy professionals who only meet drizzle when the hotel shower loses pressure. Tim O’Shea is obviously such, and a Green politico also, since he believes in recycling. But hey, it’s a nice concept: one track for each of his 15 years on the road.

Tim himself is credited with vocals, guitar, whistle, bodhrán, bones and djembe. He also has the unmentioned talent of persuading a dozen other musicians to contribute to a tasty collection. It covers many points of the compass from Killarney to Leipzig. The vocal numbers cover several styles. My curmudgeon permit allows me to dissent from the practice of altering the melody of the established songs. Among the instrumentals I was particularly taken with the reels Lad O’Beirne’s and The Belles of Tipperary, recorded when playing support to De Dannan in Killarney. It brought back memories of the great Joe Cooley recording.

Another factor is the fiddle tone of both Paddy Jones and Rob Stafford. Maybe it’s better teaching and bow-hold, maybe it’s increasing prosperity and better quality of instruments, but there’s no hint of any sound that would upset a classical ensemble. The times are a-changing.

The final track proves that he can have great rapport with an audience, but it doesn’t mean as much to anyone who wasn’t there on the night. But if you meet the man on his travels with this CD sell at the end of a gig, you’ll go home good and happy.

John Brophy

Visit Tim O’Shea & Friends web site