Releases > September 2011 releases

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The Home Place
OK001 2011
12 tracks 45.35 minutes

Adding another line to a fantastic musical dynasty Orlaith Keane presents a first solo album that proves the credentials of a worthy scion. Like her aunts, uncles and father she has an uncanny knack of picking songs from a wide variety of pens that not only suit and extend her abilities but they also delight the listener who gets new songs that are not getting the exposure they truly deserve. Her voice and delivery are showcased to great effect on Dougie MacLean’s beautiful Another Story.
Keane is hard to categorise other than placing her under eclectic great sounds. Look on and Cry has a lovely bluegrass country style sound that would delight The Grand Ole Oprey. She slows things down with the Monroe Brothers composition Where is My Sailor Boy? For haunting lyrics deftly delivered it is hard to better the fantastic Who Will Watch the Home Place? The singing and musical accompaniment blend to perfection on this track.
The folk side is represented by an excellent version of Both Sides Now as well as the story songs like Lord Franklin that transports the listener to the frozen wastes. Yorkshire accent is beautifully replaced by Connemara as Orlaith gives her special treatment to a Kate Rusby song, High on a Hill. If you bought an album for one song then you would be well recompensed with Orlaith Keane singing the lyrics of Andy M Stewart on the incomparable Lover’s Heart.
With other tracks from the pens of Richard Thompson and Mary Chapin Carpenter you get the general drift that this is a collection of quality work that is well matched by the singing, interpretation, playing and production of all involved. This is a showcase album in its true sense that should - if there is any musical justice. It will catapult Orlaith Keane on to a worldwide stage.
Nicky Rossiter

Into The Orange
2011 Sitric Records, 12 Tracks

You cannot take the latest release by Brendan Devereux lightly. Having established himself with Copper Alley and Songs from a Yellow Chair, this third album from the singer songwriter weaves a variety of thoughtful expression through nimble string arrangements and a taste of some bluesy harmonica that emphasises the diversity of the instrumentation.
Simple worlds can paint a powerful picture and both You left Without Saying Goodbye and Bad Times connect with an emotion that as Bad Times says - ‘hits you like a train’ and then leaves behind a trail of empathetic attentiveness. Others like Liberty Hall, which walks you through the hard reality of a couples experience of the 1916 Easter Rising, depicts a visual image that springs to life as you listen. It is evident that each phrase and even inflection has a personal experience for the singer and this is portrayed in the compelling way he delivers. With a hypnotic voice and magnetic lyricism you are drawn into Devereux’s intense stream of consciousness and have no wish to leave until the last note of Here we go lingers in the air and dissipates then the magnetic hold breaks and you find yourself hitting the repeat key to capture the magic again.
Into the Orange is Quality.
Eileen McCabe

Music and Song of South Ulster
Gerry O’Connor, fiddle, Gabreil McArdle, Songs and Concertina, and Martin Quinn, Accordion
13 tracks; 46 minns. LUGCD964
This is a darling of an album, a real pet which was launched this past July. Three fine musicians playing tunes they like, and nobody throwing shapes at all: not a dodecahedron in sight. Indeed, it seems strange that anyone attempted to put a border through a region so culturally united, though it was good for smuggling and similar field sports.
The album is crystal clear with the notes of accordion and fiddle tripping out bold and true, it has a live presence rarely found in studio recordings. For an example, the interplay between box and fiddle on the Cottage reel is a a case of less is more, a longish note held on the on the box where other players might add a muffling chord. The same texture is present on the song selections too, with Gabriel McArdle having an easy way with words, his songs are full of resonance but taken at a pace where the words are allowed to linger and make an impression.
Best track for me from Gerry is the Mohill set, with the Johnny Doherty tune The Maids of Mullagh. The songs are very good also:
I also especially like the one about the Holland handkerchief. Holland, as a type of cloth, dates back to the 1720’s.
It’s a model of quiet rhythmic playing, and blending accordion and concertina works well if they’re in tune and all players on one wavelength. For sheer naturalness and happy playing it’s as delightful as a cat well fed on cream.
John Brophy

Trasna na dTonnta
TGG003 - 13 tracks

Irish influence in all aspects of the tradition has spread far and wide across the globe and certain people have been instrumental in the preservation of the culture along the way. One such person is that of Connemara born Maureen Creighan R.I.P. who, on settling in Chicago, lovingly passed on her talent of Gaelic through song and spoken word which led to the foundation of the Gaelic League in Chicago.
In honour of Maureen’s endeavours to keep the heritage alive whilst away from her native home, her brother John and nephew Colm have released a gem of an album to showcase the traditional songs and music from Connemara entitled Trasna na dTonnta.
John and Colm are certainly no strangers themselves to the Irish American connection with John emigrating from Connemara in 1959 and settling in Boston where son Colm was born. Then to switch things around Colm moved across the Atlantic to Ennis and after a tour with the renowned Riverdance he settled back in his father’s birthplace of Droim. Who better then to encapsulate the imagery and ambience of the Connemara countryside through the ambling tones of the box and melodeon. The Gannons take a gander through The Green Mountain, saunter through The Humours of Glendart and encounter a dalliance with The Dairy Maid all the while playing with enough tuneful pace to combine high energy whilst allowing each note to be truly absorbed.
In complete accordance is John Blake who’s piano and strings wind around the buttons creating a synthesis of quality that complements the Gannon’s ability to draw you to the past with a skill that is truly inherent of the tradition.
The two recordings by Maureen Creighan embellish the authenticity of the Connemara legacy as she movingly vocalises Tógfaidh Mé mo Sheolta and Cuaichín Gleann Néifin which she renders in true Sean-Nos style. Her voice gives rise to the spirit of the heritage she valued combining a sweet clarity with poignant nostalgia.
Trasna na dTonnta captures the Connemara of the past with a vividness that truly enriches and the collective talent of John and Colm Gannon ensure the keeping of tradition is in safe.
Eileen McCabe

In Retrospect
15 tracks, Self Published

Music changes with the times and some lament the passing of the good old days whilst others embrace the ever moving intricacies of culture. The ability to fuse the quality tradition of the past with the innovation of the present has come to light in the form of Kerry box player/tutor/radio presenter Danny O’Mahony with his debut release In Retrospect.
The concept of taking an instrument, that was played in the 1930’s and 40’s and putting it in the hands of the future generation to explore the modernism of musicality is an intriguing one.
O’Mahony shows how it’s done by utilising a Lorio 6 voice D/C# that was custom built in the 1930’s in New York for the Listowel born box legend Tom Carmody. Renowned for his performances with the Sligo fiddle virtuoso James Morrison in the 1930’s, Carmody sadly passed away in 1986.
The respect O’Mahony has for the instrument and its owner is prevalent in The Jolly Roving Tar set where the box breathes life enabled by a lovely piano accompaniment from Patsy Broderick and the indefatigably talented percussionist Johnny McDonagh. With Johnny proclaiming ‘Danny, that would be a good start’ in goes O’Mahony on the Lorio with a hearty introduction to the Tom Carty’s jig set. It’s fantastic to listen to the nostalgic yet fresh tones of a box that has withstood being played through generations and O’Mahony fails to disappoint with this.
Alternating between a B/C and D/D# Soprani, he sails through well chosen tunes taken from, amongst others, the Tipperary stalwarts Paddy O’Brien and Sean Ryan and the Chicago fiddle maestro Liz Carroll. Ability and range are standouts through these and Cyril O’Donoghue enhances the effect with some magical bouzouki accompaniment.
In Retrospect is an instrumental fusion of generational tradition where nostalgic tones are enhanced by the innovative instrumentals of a serious talent.
A debut delight.
Eileen McCabe

Circadian Rhythms,
CDBAR012, 11 tracks

For an occasion to remember with a distinctly Scottish flavour, it’s got to be Céilídhdonia! Céilidh with a Kick! On the other hand, if it’s Russian you want, we can do that, too. Or Bavarian, or Irish, whatever. Rock ‘n’ roll, as well.” In all their publicity material – half tongue-in-cheek, I suspect – that’s what this band of musicians from diverse and mysterious backgrounds seems to be saying. In a word, if it’s fun with music, song and dance you’re after, give us a shout!
Last June Céilidhdonia won the Album of the Week award with this commendation: “Not your average céilidh band. Not even your average band. This is way beyond that. Led by that acrobatic accordionist, Sandy Brechin, this 5-star line-up really does rock ‘n’ reel through some classic tunes & songs. Dynamically played & produced, you really must get in on this one.” Just to illustrate the more unusual and quirky nature of their offerings, one might list the following set of jigs from track #1: Blow Your Chanter, Snug In a Blanket, Your Drunken Fumbling Fingers, and Last Tango in Harris. And the source of the idiosyncratic titles and musicality? No detective work needed here, folks. Starting with Sandy Brechin’s record label, for instance, Brechin-all-records, the band’s name itself, and the title, Circadian Rhythms*, it all stems with Sandy’s penchant for word play and having fun with words. (*You probably know it already, but just in case, you should know that “a circadian rhythm is an endogenously driven roughly 24-hour cycle in biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes”.)
The band promises: “Funky céilídh dance music and songs, performed by a varied line-up chosen from over a dozen top Scottish musicians. With fiddles, accordions, mandolin, pipes, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass and vocals.” And besides Sandy on the box, the line-up includes vocalist John Inglis (Galway Girl, Hielan’ Harry, etc.), accordionists Gregor Lowrey, Jock the Box and Gary Innes, and fiddler Ronan Martin. Producer Brian McAlpine also lends a hand with keyboards and guitar.
The band tells me that they’ve travelled far and wide: “As well as gigging all over the UK, we have performed in many countries including Libya, Mexico and Portugal, to name but a few.” Phewww!
Aidan O’Hara

Life In Shadows
P&C Robert Doyle Music 2011
10 Tracks

There are many flavours to Irish Music and it can be performed in many ways. Finger style guitar expert and singer Robert Doyle has released his debut album Life in Shadows and showcases Irish traditional with a classical, almost European, twist which maybe an influence of his time spent under the tutelage of the French-Algerian DADGAD maestro Pierre Bensusan. Having previously released the Trasna na Slí EP in 2008 the Dubliner has taken the time to produce ten tracks of intricate string arrangements to complement his distinctive vocal technique.
The songs are a derivative of Sean-Nos style and the first track Tá mo chleamhnas déanta, familiar from the Van Morrison and the Chieftain’s album Irish Heartbeat combines the Irish language with English and is exhibited by Doyle with a breathy finesse.
A deeper vocal appears in Siún Ní Dhuibhir where Doyle relates the story of a man in love but not willing to marry due to the lack of a dowry. Again the enunciation of the language along with a clear ability to project emotion is rendered with a unique vocal edge.
The title track Life In Shadows demonstrates a range of influences and is played with a passion that is dynamic and forceful and I am particularly drawn to Doyle’s interpretation of Bold Robert Emmet an instrumental piece that is expressed with a tenderness and respect for the original air yet Doyle still makes it his own.
Life In Shadows may not be a mainstream traditional album however this is a debut that will garner huge respect within its genre.
Eileen McCabe

Mogg Records, 2011

Mick Fitzgerald is a bit of a renaissance man and a dedicated performer. His book of short stories, Session, was published last year. He has an active schedule as an actor on stage, television and independent films. And, recently he has released a spoken word recording of some Grimm’s fairy tales.
Streetwise opens with two songs he resurrected from the scrapheap of memory. A Letter to Dublin is a sweet a capella fragment (all the voices are Micks) that segues into the ballad of Munroe which is itself a blue-grass inflected song with Gerry O’Connor providing most of that sound on fiddle and banjo.
There’s more than a hint of James Taylor chops on his first recorded song The Wanderer’s Tale, which combines a bluesy riff with smokey sax from Martin Gallagher and great guitar and bass work from Gerry Galvin.
The shadows gave one last chase
To the night time
Some of Mick’s songs are not new, indeed 1971 AD was written back in that year and memorializes meetings and dates under the Clery’s clock in Dublin’s O’Connell Street. He can sketch in the big picture with a few strokes:
Dublin is a pencil drawing
Quayside fading twilight falling
There’s urbanity in his writing, his music tells of a city and a time where there was a feint echo of the cosmopolitan before things became corporate, global and kitsch. Sandy is a mellow, jazzy torch song. Nice clarinet work from Ciaran Wilde. Fly clips along nicely, a rock and roll treatment of an imagined 19th century baloon flight, with the bonus of slick guitar work from Ciaran “Foxy” Murphy
In the Morning is a daybreak of delight, lovely backing vocals and a fine arrangement, again those familiar with James Taylor will see the shading in Mick’s voice which although it has a lighter texture can sound so like him. Breath is a great song from Danny Carnahan, an expert blend of words and tones notable for those sweet harmonies from Brigid Heffernan. The Radio is a subtle lament for one of the casualties of the Korean War with its delicate momentum against a marching backbeat.
Produced by Leo O’Kelly (remember Tir Na n-Og?) and with Gravan Gallagher, Kieran Halpin, Lorcan Musphy and his sister Cathy in support, this is both parsimonius and poetic.
Tom Clancy

The Hill of Women
FPCD006 2011
17 tracks 47.10 minutes,

Jules Bitter and Tom Acton are based in Holland, where they play the Irish music circuit, Acton is a singer and Bitter a sweet instrumentalist.
We are advised to file this CD under Celtic Music/Poetry and it certainly lives up to its classification. I suppose that the poetry CD other than strictly literary offerings are far from common but older readers may recall when the likes of Rod McKuen were regularly on offer.
The opening combination of The Song of Wandering Aengus with Roisin Dubh works very well. In fact it is probably the better-known poetry like this along with The Stolen Child and The Old Woman of Beara that work best and will probably be the ones that attract the casual listener but Acton’s original works should not be skipped over.
The title track is a case in point as his beautiful story is combined with The Dark Woman of the Glen. For those who may be put off by the idea of poetry from those examination years of rote and repetition you should bear in mind that most of the songs you love are poetry put to music so maybe it’s worth giving a few minutes to the offering on here without prejudice. You will be poetically and pleasantly surprised.
Each poem old or new is lovingly accompanied by Jules Bitter’s sweet playing (he’s one of the Netherlands top whistle players and great teacher of the féadog Stain). This may not be an album that most people would automatically choose from a rack because of the word poetry in the sub-title. Go on take a chance, live dangerously listen to some words without music.
Nicky Rossiter

Ancient Walls
Stubborn Ass Music SAM3 201
13 tracks 42.23 minutes

This is traditional music but not as we know it. Clanú are a sort of Chieftains for the 21st century in that they take the sounds of the tradition and with great respect they re-interpret it in a way that while retaining its soul they give it a voice for a new generation.
From the opening and well titled Outlaw Set you know you are listening to a masterful blend of old and new blending a new composition The Outlaw Joseph Emmet by Barry Skeffington with a re-working of The Gravel Walks.
The first vocal contribution is Where You Going and again we get a story song that would fit into the ancient canon but as a new composition it has an urgent feel and strong lyrics enhanced by the backing banjo. Showing that the new wave revere the old material one need only listen to the excellent rendition of that wonderful air, Bruach na Carraige Báine. No true music lover can be anything but moved by it.
There is a sly hint of what track six has to offer in the title Slow Whiskey. Yes it is that rollicking old favourite of the pub and concert crowd Whiskey in the Jar but Clanú give it an amazing slow delivery that is a joy to hear. Hearing those lyrics delivered in this way reminds us of the quality writing that we so often take for granted in songs we get over familiar with.
Butterfly Set will have you visualising those creatures flitting about your living room. Clanú experiment in an interesting way on The Purple Pillow giving the same tune as a jig and then as a reel. Another beautiful new song is She Came to Me Softly continuing the proud folk tradition it recounts suffering in word pictures set to music.
The album concludes with another new piece called March of Greco Celts. Clanú are certainly a band to watch out for. One could imagine some rousing live performances with lots of heart based on this album.
Nicky Rossiter

Down by The Brewery Wall
PeeDee Records 01102
Fifteen tracks

The thirteen tracks of original songs penned by Paul Daly himself have established his latest release as an intriguing listen. With the loyal support of the German pub and festival scene, the songs got such a reaction that he included them in Down by the Brewery Wall which he recorded with The Paul Daly Band and completed with a rake of guest musicians that include Pat Coyne on guitar and banjo and the ever popular Sean Regan on fiddle.
The songs touch on an diverse mix of subjects starting with Daly’s young days growing up beside the Guinness Brewery in Dublin then rolling through Celtic Tiger days, touching on the effects of alcohol, a visit to the Greenfarm Music Festival and a tribute to the Munich Céilí Band.
The Ballad of Jackie Duddy is a tale of a striking photographic image that left a lasting impression on Daly. The photo of Jackie Duddy being carried away from the Bloody Sunday riots in Derry led by Fr Daly is captured vividly by Daly through his lyrics and leaves food for thought. It’s not all sombre though as Daly moves on to describe his Irishman’s Diet as he never drinks Guinness on Thursdays. This catchy ode to drink is reminiscent of a Dubliners ditty and band members Phil Newton, Paul Wyett and Bernie Bigler provide a lifting instrumental to complement this.
Down by the Brewery Wall has an abundance of distinctive lyrics that are moulded by appealing melodies from a band that has a profusion of experience in live entertainment.
Eileen McCabe