Releases > August 2010 releases

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Self published 11 tracks

On speaking in a recent interview with Sean Laffey for IMM, Benny McCarthy commented that “We like to call Seanchas the mature album”. An appropriate description for Danú’s musically mature latest offering entitled Seanchas. The title refers to an album rooted in ‘lore, tradition and mythos’ and this theme weaves a thread through each of the eleven tracks on the album.
A variation to the up tempo releases previously associated with Danú, the tone throughout Seanchas portrays the thought provoking, reflective side of the band’s image. The songs mould to Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s honeyed timbre perfectly especially in Eithne Ní Uallacháin’s version of the traditional ‘Malaí na gCuach Ní Chuilleanneain’ and Sigerson Clifford’s ‘The Boys of Barr na Sráide’ in which she manages to contrast a soft sweetness with raw compassion that enchants the listener and is ably accompanied by Martin O‘Neill on piano.
A delightful surprise is the return of former Danú singer, Ciarán Ó Gealbháin who joins Nic Amhlaoibh on the macaronic song ‘Cailin na nÚrla Donn’. The tale of a couple’s flirty conversation is rendered impeccably and the duet of voices complement flawlessly. Danú don’t disappoint with their foot tapping instrumentals. Drawn back into the fold are Donnchadh Gough on bodhrán and Tom Doorley on flute for a jaunty ‘Murphy’s Hornpipe’ into the reel ‘Lord Gordon’s ‘and a beautifully executed ‘Fiona’s Arrival’ written by McAuley and named for his daughter is one to watch out for. ‘Clancy’s Farewell to Whiskey’ is an exquisite piece composed by Donal which deserves attention to the intricate nuances and flows seamlessly.
With Seanchas dedicated to Donal’s father, the late, great Liam Clancy, Danú have encapsulated the inherent tradition so aptly associated with Clancy without diminishing from their contemporary, entertaining edge. Would Liam be proud? I most definitely think so!
Eileen McCabe


The Lights of Ranzanico
Own Label DMCD001
10 tracks, 40 minutes

This recording is close to perfection. Cork piper, Diarmaid Moynihan is one of the most talented players of his generation, and a prolific and respected composer, who gained global recognition with the band Calico. Donncha was also a key component of Calico, playing guitar and bouzouki, after a spell with all-girl group Calando. I think the beard gave him away in the end. Interestingly, his colleague in another band based on long blond hair has just surfaced with The London Lasses: Elma McElligott played flute with Donncha in the group Tassida. Be that as it may, the Moynihan brothers make a tight and intuitive duo here. Diarmaid’s pipes are in fantastic form - just listen to his air Pairc na Marbh, and Donncha’s accompaniment on the following reels is spot on. The guitar on Donncha’s own tune Long Haul Hush perfectly complements Diarmaid’s whistle. I could listen to their duets for the whole album: Diarmaid’s dreamy slow reel Ivory Lady recorded recently by Lúnasa, old reels and jigs incisively played on pipes and whistle, and another of Donncha’s airs on solo guitar. But there’s much, much more here.
First, the Moynihan lads are joined by ace Galician piper, Anxo Lorenzo for a stupendous opening track. Tejedor’s great Spanish jig Barralin leads into the title tune (another of Diarmaid’s), and then Mairtin O’Connor’s supercharged Rockin’ the Boat. Somehow, just two pipers manage to sound like a full pipe band on the Breton march Pont de Loudeac. North Cregg’s box-player, Christy Leahy adds his mighty punch to another pair of Diarmaid’s tunes, La Tramontana and Shoulder Dancing, and to a set of traditional reels. There are also some nice touches of trumpet, piano, bass and percussion at various points. In between, Diarmaid delivers another gorgeous slow air and a rather funky reel, and the brothers are joined by their sister Deirdre for a fresh take on the Calico favourite Covering Ground.
It’s all stirring stuff, and I can’t see how it could have been better, unless there was more of it. The Lights of Ranzanico is an album to be seized upon, greedily devoured or lovingly cherished: a highlight of the year.
Alex Monaghan


Toucan Cove Entertainment TCH23
Universal/WoodRecords. DVD 21 tracks 97 minutes, CD 16 tracks

Rig the Jig are back and their re-invention as an eight piece is a masterstroke by band leader, Mick Bananhan. This double helping of CD and DVD ‘Live in Dublin’ was recorded at one of the capital’s most famous music venues; Whelan’s of Wexford Street. I’m not sure when as the info is not given on the liner notes, but the whole package was released on May 18th 2010, so as I type this, it is still hot.
The stage at Whelan’s isn’t the biggest in the country, I know having done a few sets there with a reformed Garland a few years ago, so how they got the eight members of Rig the Jig all in a line is a pure feat of stage management. This leads to very easy camera angles, mostly full on, which is grand by me and if like me you watch bands to see what they are doing with their fingers, how they form the chords and so on, this is an excellent vehicle for learning how to be a trad band (and a trad band with a distinctly folky edge).
Rig the Jig are Michael Banahan (vocals, Bodhrán, acoustic guitar), Aoife Kelly (fiddle, vocals), Anthony McDermott (acoustic and electric guitars), Patricia Lane (vocals, Bodhrán), Ian Kinsella (banjo, acoustic guitar), Noel Carberry (Uilleann pipes, whistles), Paul Gurney (bass and acoustic guitar, keyboards), and Brendan Emmett (mandolin, acoustic guitar). These sets are arranged tastefully with a tendency to concentrate on the string band which seems to be at the core of rig the Jig, the music is to coin a phrase “Irish Eclectic” from the opening driving ‘Lark in the Morning ‘ to a more reflective ‘Let It Be’. (Yes the Lennon and McCartney number).
As an audience member I’m sure you’d be on your toes, not only dancing but waiting for what might come next, traditional tunes are shouldered by Americana, a trad song ‘Pretty Fair Maid’ (you know the old Christy Moore I Roved Out : ‘Who are you my Pretty fair Maid’) well that’s followed by ‘High and Dry’ a tour de force of country singing from fiddler, Aoife Kelly, she handles the Texas swing with ease and has enough left in her bag of tricks to turn a gypsy Czardas into the ‘Mason’s Apron’, if there is a star in waiting in this band it has to be Aoife.
We just don’t have the space here to detail all 21 tracks on the DVD let alone do justice to those on the CD, but I suspect you’ll find them intriguing and uplifting in equal measures. Rig the Jig faded off the scene for a while (they morphed into The Bailey’s a couple of years ago and were hugely popular in the UK), now they are back and kicking out the tunes…Live. They are on fire.
I hope they get a huge amount of festival work on the back of this package, they deserve wider recognition and they will appeal to a wide cross section of acoustic music lovers.
Seán Laffey


Barrier Falls 12 tracks
5-String Productions

Take a journey through a collection of culture with this latest offering from Annalivia. ‘Barrier Falls’ weaves a trail through a fusion of tradition blending Irish with Appalachian, Scottish with Cape Breton and rounding off with a taste of originality.
Emerging from the Boston fiddle music scene the band includes: Liz Symons and Flynn Cohen on vocal and guitar, Brendan Carey Block and Emerald Rae on fiddle and harmony vocals with Stuart Kenney delivering on upright bass and 5-string banjo.
We are introduced to the breathy light vocals of Symons in the first track. ‘Reynardine’ is described on the sleeve notes as ’a metaphysical love song about a rakish werefox’ , yet there is so much more to absorb then the story behind the song. The voices of Symons and Cohen combine perfectly, the guitar tempo complements the vibe in the storytelling and the fiddles relate their own ’rakish’ tale with sprightly relish!
Symons also delivers on ’Lovely Annie’ and ’Early in the Spring’ the first sourced from the singing of the late Paddy Tunney from Co Fermanagh and the latter from the traditional singing community of Madison County NC. In contrast to the sweetly feminine vocals of these songs, Cohen takes the lead on ‘Travelling Case’ which he co-wrote with Aram Sinnreich of New York. An appealing song with a grassroots vibe that contributes to the amalgamation of traditions apparent throughout the CD.
Let’s not forget the instrumental sets that intersperse with the vocal offerings on ‘Barrier falls’. A stand out is ‘Eden’s Edge’ written by Rae that flows perfectly into the Tommy peoples tune ‘The Green Fields of Glentown’ Kenney’s banjo style provides an exciting variant to the fiddle playing and box player John Whelan enters the fray with style. Watch out for ’Murphy’s Shadow’ and ‘Freaky Hollow’ both originals from members of the band that don’t disappoint.
With a wealth of individual talent on display and so much to absorb, there is no doubt that ‘Barrier Falls’ will be listened to again and again.
Eileen McCabe


Traditional Irish Music from Co Longford
17 tracks, Own Label

Having had the pleasure to listen to Peter Carberry play numerous times many years ago whilst in Manchester the one thing that has always stood out is his major love for the music. A stalwart of the traditional music scene there, it appears from his newest release ’Traditional Music from Co. Longford’ that he has still retained the ability to attract the ears of music lovers for the total absorption and ability that is associated with his style of play.
The recording features well-known friends and family with Angelina resonant on banjo in tight tandem with her father on most tracks and bodhrán stalwart Seamus O’Kane and James Blennerhassset on bass join guitar/piano expert John Blake to subtly enhance the melody.
There are ‘a rake of tunes’ to engage with (as they say) with Peter introducing the CD with the set dance ‘Sean O’Duibhir an Ghleanna’ making way for a single jig ‘Ask my Father’ both from the piping of Willie Clancy and Seamus Ennis. Peter plays alone on this set and the notes resound with a rich vibrant tone and are placed perfectly in the context of the tune.
A lovely banjo duet appears in the form of the ‘Johnny Cope’ set and the box and bodhrán echo each other in the reels ’The Mountain Top’ and ’Dermot Grogan’s’. Watch out for a deeply haunting ‘Lament for Eoghan Rua O’Neill’ and a touching finale where Peter is joined by the younger members of the wider Carberry family, Róisín on accordion and Shaunagh on fiddle, for a well paced set of jigs that showcase the Carberry family perfectly.
The sleeve notes relating to the tunes are set in conversable style with Peter providing the reader a glimpse of his musical history and with seventeen tracks of unfettered instrumentals he has highlighted the fact that the tune can speak for itself in the hands of an accomplished musician.
Eileen McCabe


Loftus Music

Trad meets the chamber orchestra might be a suitable sub title for Kevin Burke’s new album, Suite. The first thing you are going to have to do is drop the idea that you know what a Kevin Burke album will sound like. Hush we won’t mention the Bothy Band as this is no historical review of that group or Kevin’s career. This is about today, and it is about Suite.
There are nine instrumentals on the album. Five of them are typical in the respect that they feature Kevin’s deft traditional hand at work. Joined by Suite co-creator and musician Cal Scott on guitar, almost all the tunes in these five cuts are by Cal or Kevin. Very traditional in flavour. They range from the lilting, Stella’s Waltz to an opening set of three jigs, featuring a tune penned by Kevin, one by Cal and one by the late Seamus Creagh. In three of those tunes they are joined by the group Beoga.
Two violins, one of them Kevin, a viola and a cello do not exactly scream, “Irish Trad!” Probably the biggest compliment to this whole creation would be that when heard, there is an ease of one form complementing the other. So. Three tunes with Beoga, including Cal Scott on guitar. Then, the four movements of the suite, as in the album title. The album, and its full context, must be taken as a whole. This is, actually, two albums in one. To hear reels such as The Boys of Ballisadore and The Galway Rambler mixing with the hornpipe, Kitty O’Neill and the air, Cailin Deas Cruithena mBo is a treat. To hear how naturally the two forms mix is a miracle.
This is a groundbreaking and original album, centering around a couple of very old forms of music. As with all innovative creations that work, the listener will wonder why this all took so long. Well, the important thing is that it is here now.
Available through Loftus Music at the website or
Bill Margeson

A Time to Remember
AMC, 30 tracks, 1hr. 49mins

With the 25th anniversary of Luke Kelly’s passing and the 21st anniversary of Ciaran Bourke’s death and Ronnie Drew’s demise in 2008 and the death of Bobby Lynch in the early 80’s, The Dubliners truly did find themselves at a spot where they had reached a time to remember. They chose five nights in Vienna in September 2009 to make a show of their recollections and here on A Time to Remember they play an evocative and moving tribute to the legacies bequeathed them by founding members Drew, Kelly and Bourke. The show which transferred to Dublin in December features video clips, photographs and recordings of the three celebrated members with the current band also paying tribute revisiting some neglected pages of their back catalogue. Eschewing the relative comfort and sterility of a studio album, this double CD was recorded live in Vienna, in front of their loyal Austrian fans.
Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly achieved iconic status with their larger than life voices and personalities. This helped cast a huge shadow on the remembrances by all concerned. This show certainly is no easy task to undertake and the emotional quality of some of the vintage performances by Drew, Kelly and Burke and homage’s to their back pages by current Dubliners vocalists Sean Cannon and Patsy Watchorn show that this stuff has emotional integrity and is not just another trip down memory lane.
Sean Cannon’s lightness of touch renders him perfectly suitable to revisit Bourke’s Peggy Lettermore, while Patsy Watchorn pulls off The Nightingale and The Town I loved so Well with his customary poise suitably evocative but never a carbon copy of Luke Kelly. John Sheahan’s eloquent poems for Ciaran, Ronnie and Luke capture their characteristic essence while mourning the huge loss that their departures brought.
From these setbacks The Dubliners’ continued survival has been miraculous and while this collection remembers their lost compadres and celebrates their lives and music, one cannot escape a sense of overall melancholy in the commemoration. As mentioned earlier feting such giants from within their own ranks is no easy task. Therefore being the original of the species The Dubliners are allowed to display some palpable grief and raw emotion among their nostalgia on this undertaking. This is as it should be the loss of three ballad icons from one group is monumental but The Dubliners continue on.
A Time to Remember is a personalised tribute par excellence.
John O’Regan

The West of Eden Travelogue
Zebra Records ZAB 851

The West of Eden Travelogue is a neatly monikered fifth album from an underrated Swedish folk rock band. The Gothenburg based outfit have created a rich and powerful body of music that has yet to reach the mainstream or gain wider exposure. What initially impressed me about West of Eden was their seamless evocation of folk rock idioms past and present from the balmy late 60’s sounds of Fairport Convention to 90’s exponents like The Corrs and Capercaillie. Their effortless border crossing and the melodic voice of Jenny Schaub provided for one of the freshest breezes blowing from northern Europe.
The West of Eden Travelogue sees them five albums in and still refusing to rest on their laurels as they introduce new musical elements most notably a contemporary gothic rock and industrial slant, this adds a surprisingly rocky sound to tracks like ‘Hawthorne Heights’ and ‘Shellcast Bay’ the latter sounding like a Celtic flavoured Evanescence, with its big stadium rock chorus and gothic rock sound effects. Jenny Schaub’s melodic vocals always place the sound within the folk rock garrison. The rustic traditional folk rock and Irish flavours cruise through Jimmy’s Van and Broken sky over Waterville’ both evocative of travel inspired pieces set in Ireland. Here the Celtic rock charm of their debut album 1997’s classic West of Eden is revisited stylistically.
Musically rich and varied with a palate including fiddle, accordion, keyboards, bass, guitar and drums behind Jenny and Martin Schaub’s evocative personalised travelling tales of childhood wonderment, romantic dissolution.. the sound is completely human, forthright and honest. This is a band to take to your heart, playing quality material with passion and composure. Criminally overlooked and underrated West of Eden is probably the best living example of the folk rock genre in action; The West of Eden Travelogue neatly proves this point with effortless precision.
John O’Regan


The Harper’s Fancy
Own Label PDCD003
15 tracks, 58 minutes

Album number three sees harpist Paul Dooley back to the material which impressed me on his exquisite first album Rip The Calico. Irish dance music and harp pieces are sprinkled with Scottish and Swedish melodies, with one big Breton set. The great thing about Paul’s music is the liveliness and enthusiasm, the spark which he puts into his playing. Not every fingertip falls perfectly, but the pulse of the tune stays true. Even though this is a real solo album, a lone harpist throughout, the sound is always full and absorbing.
Paul’s repertoire happens to include many of my favourite tunes. Fred Finn’s Reel, The Humours of Ennistymon, Jenny Dang the Weaver and The Wild Irishman are among the up-tempo reels and jigs here. In slightly slower mood, the two ancient slip-jigs Port an Deoraí and An Phis Fhluich belong to the body of great Irish modal tunes which chill the spine and grip the viscera. Slower again, the popular Carolan planxty Loftus Jones is joined by lesser-known pieces The Fairy Queen and Mr Malone. All these tracks still have a drive and beat which keeps the head nodding or the feet tapping: Dooley reserves his lowest gears for the 400-year-old Lamentation of Youths and the equally venerable Moll Dubh an Ghleanna, two melodies marvellously suited to the harp.
Roughly two thirds of The Harper’s Fancy is dance music at dancing tempo. The Boys of Tanderagee set of jigs, ending with Paul’s own composition which furnishes the title for this CD, is a massive six and a half minutes long, enough for the most demanding dancers. It’s followed by a trio of popular reels: The Corner House, The Ash Plant and The Roving Bachelor at a very brisk pace.
The slow strathspey Rothiemurches Rant accelerates to become The Grand Spey, or The Graf Spee as it’s known in Ireland. Dan R MacDonald’s oft-recorded strathspey Lime Hill is taken rather quicker, and Caber Feigh is played as a slow reel to complement Neil Dickie’s oddly-named reel Patti. Any stylish performance of Miss Monaghan will get extra marks from me, but even without this The Harper’s Fancy is an exceptional album, highly recommended for all harp fans.
Alex Monaghan

Irish Trad Concertina From Beara
18 tracks
Ardgroom Trad

This CD presents a very personal collection of tunes played on concertinas. Nothing else, no backing tracks, no guitars or bouzoukis to plaster over cracks and crackles, this is a brave old fashioned album, where Sean O’Dwyer plays naked concertina, and he does so in a most beguiling way, proving himself to be a master of his craft.
He confesses on the album notes to having been in the recording wilderness for a quarter of a century, which is no bad thing in that he is able to conjure up an older cleaner less hurried way of playing the little squeeze box.
The O’Dwyers are steeped in music, and this album pays homage to his tune playing forebears as well as his immediate family who have carried the tradition down the generations. There are 18 track in all and with a musical base in West Cork/Kerry and West Limerick it come has no surprise to find tunes such as Denis Murphy’s and the Ballyvourney which he palys with great dash. But there is much else besides, tune composed within the family: ‘Dublin – Cork Train to Killarney’, and ‘Lorcan O’Dwyer’ to name just two.
Having no backing instruments is the bravest option these days but it does allow Sean O’Dwyer the luxury of subtle variations of tone and tempo which wouldn’t be possible in an ensemble situation, his sparse use of triplets on Carolans’ ‘Mr O’Connor’ spring to mind as something delightfully spontaneous.
Sometimes it doesn’t quite work, his ‘Star of Munster’ would benefit from an anchored pulse as his free ranging style has a tendency to lose the melody in wanderings here. But it gets very good on his self penned reel ‘Triple Jump Backwards’ where you can hear Sean warming to the task as he grows in confidence with every repeat measure; this is how real traditional music is made and that track and a dozen more marks this as a wonderfully refreshing album for its honesty and truth to the tradition.
Seán Laffey