Releases > November 2010 releases

Want to see earlier releases? Visit the archive.


Súgach Sámh -Happy Out
Own Label IMCD 002
13 tracks, 55 minutes

An intriguing title - Súgach Sámh in Irish - for this outstanding Kerry musician’s second CD. Her debut followed stardom with Riverdance, and album number two has taken time out of her touring schedule with the Carlos Nuñez band. Niamh plays fiddle and concertina, and sings in English and Irish - a new departure for her. She also presents four new compositions here, so she’s been a busy bee since her previous release, and I have to say she’s looking well on it. Niamh is joined by Robbie Harris on the auld skin drum, and by the original Lúnasa rhythm section, as well as a handful of one-track ponies.

The ten tracks of tunes here are evenly split between fiddle and concertina, with two technomagic duet tracks. There’s a Kerry influence in the inclusion of slides and polkas, but Niamh’s tastes are eclectic. She starts with The Limerick Redowa (a Czech dance similar to a mazurka), turned with the brilliant Oakum’s and Niamh’s own lilting Strawberry Tree Slide. The gentle old slip jig Top It Off leads into a pair of familiar fiery reels - almost an American fiddle style as the bow saws through The Glen Road to Carrick - then a more delicate approach for her catchy composition The Devil’s Ladder. The Blue Horse is a clear highlight for me, a set of jigs starting with one which has many names but I know best as The Swedish Jig, followed by The Sail-Maker’s Wife which Garry Walsh introduced me to, and finally a muñeira learnt from that Napoleon of the Galician gaita, Carlos Nuñez. Lonesome Eyes is the first of three slow airs here, a beautiful melody by the late Jerry Holland into which Niamh pours all the poignancy of her fiddle. Eithne’s is another Ní Charra composition, bittersweet and haunting, followed by her light airy jig The Fairy Step. The final air comes from the heart of the Munster tradition, Bruach na Carraige Báine, wonderfully articulated on concertina. A glorious set of hornpipes, some splendid jigs and pokas, and a pair of big Scottish and Canadian tunes complete the instrumental offering.

A fluent Irish speaker, Niamh delivers two songs in Irish and one in English on this recording. I know Niamh was hesitant to add vocals to her performances, but the three examples here are a credit to her. Paddy’s Lamentation is taken slow, mournful and low: no dramatics, just an honest delivery. Niamh provides her own concertina break in the middle. Cailleach an Airgid and Sé Fáth Mo Bhuartha are sung in a light clear voice: Niamh tears into the comic ditty with gusto, and backs this up with a fine fiddle version, while the lovesong is handled gently and features a sparkling accompaniment on zither by Niamh’s father. It all adds up to a very impressive CD.

Happy Out could well be one of the best albums of 2010, so don’t miss it: will give you more information on Niamh’s recordings and live gigs.
Alex Monaghan

Disgrace Notes
Sibin Records
13 tracks
Did you ever hear the word Breenshing? it’s one way of establishing your Kerry credentials. The word describes the activity of catching a sod of turf on a pitchfork and pitching it up on the bank where it is laid out to dry before it’s footed and later clamped. But Ochone, hasn’t the EU outlawed all this bog-work just as this CD comes out, with a picture of a flying sod (or it it Begley’s accordion?) on its cover (There are two musicians there too!) Three others, not on the cover are Seamus’ daughter Meabh who shares backing vocals with Rita Connolly and Shaun Davey.

A fine anthology here of songs and tunes, giving an understanding of how former generations thought and felt. For instance, great laments in Irish can be about lost love“ but they’re far more likely to be political, about lost land and the culture it sustained. So in a song like Ó bhean a’tá you’ll find the line Beidh talamh gan cios o’n bhliain seo amach/Agus cuirfimid dli na bhFrainc ar bun There’ll be land without rent from this year on, and we’ll install the law of the French. And it becomes clear that we have a song about 1798, the year of the French. And a little further digging will show that Whit Monday is a song about Vinegar Hill from that same year. And likewise for An Spailpín Fánach

Musically, it’s a delight with crisp uplift and plenty of the slighted grace notes. This is happy music, like you’d hope to find if you dropped in on a family celebration. But you’d have to count yourself very lucky if it was anything as good as this.
John Brophy

The Killavil Post
14 tracks; 45 minutes

There’s a leafy re-brick suburb of Dublin, where William Martin Murphy once had the Dartry dye works on the banks of the river Dodder“ the building is still there. The bould William built the West Clare Railway, led the employers in the great Lock-out of 1913, and in music backed the Rathmines & Rathgar Musical Society. It’s Gilbert and Sullivan country.
Happily, on the far side of the island there’s another Dartry, and the music is truly pure drop: four fiddles, three flutes (this is Connacht!), accordion and concertina, plus piano and drums. And it’s by players to whom every note is as native as the air they breathe. You can hear instantly why they won the all-Ireland last year.
The Killavil of the title was the native ground of Michael Coleman: the tune is an almost-ragtime polka. Matt Molloy, in an elegant encomium (that’s a good name for a tune) refers to their joyous fiery style. No truer word e’er spoken or written. The tune selection has a few classics like Gillian’s Apples or Tarbolton, plus a nice little tale of how the Longford Collector got its name.
Most highly recommended for those who love dancing and the music that was meant for it
John Brophy

Michael Coyne
MPC Records MPC CD001 2010

This is a true “well, well, well” album. It has well chosen tracks, it’s well produced and it is very well performed. My one reservation is that people seeing the accordion featured so prominently on the cover may misjudge the content. You do so at your peril. The instrument is used sensitively on all tracks and is never overpowering.
Coyne hails from Mayo but lives in Liverpool and has a very healthy following at live gigs there and wherever he travels. This CD is an ideal showcase of his talent and repertoire. He opens proceedings with Kevin Collins’ nostalgic Long Gone Are the Days and in many ways this sets the tone of the album. Here is collection of songs of homecoming and longing with a few sprightly bits of toe tapping and humour thrown in. Many of the songs are of the less performed variety and are all the more welcome for this. It is great to hear something new or at least not over exposed from the Irish and Country canon.
The accordion maestro is noted on Dublin Town in 1962 by himself, Dermot O’Brien. Your Wedding Day is one that will probably feature in the afters parties of weddings in times to come but perhaps not The Barmaid I met in Kinsale, unless the bride has a good sense of humour. Love songs abound her like So Here Are The Roses and It Still takes a Woman.
The CD closes on a jaunty beat with a set of jigs that will leave you wanting more as I am sure his live audiences demand. This CD is a good introduction to Michael Coyne if you have not heard him. It would be a nice sing along or Irish party album for the coming winter nights and gatherings.
Nicky Rossiter


Transatlantic Sessions 4 volume 2
Whirlie CD 19 (DVD version available)
15 tracks, 61 minutes

A niche TV series doesn’t get to series 4 without having something special. The appeal of Transatlantic Sessions is its broad church of Country to Trad, Texan to Celtic, and its talent for unexpected combinations creating exceptional music. This CD is a clear example: starting off with the country soul of James Taylor and Copperline, we move deep into redneck country with Dan Tyminski’s version of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn joined to The Chicago Reel on Mike McGoldrick’s Irish flute. Emily Smith’s version of the traditional Scottish song The Silver Tassie is followed by the first of five instrumental tracks: a set of funky reels on pipes and fiddle from Mike McGoldrick and Dezi Donnelly.

All the music on this recording benefits from backing by the Transatlantic Sessions house band: musical directors Aly Bain on fiddle and Jerry Douglas on dobro, with Russ Barenberg, Phil Cunningham, Donald Shaw, Ronan Browne and others.
Martha Wainwright, Roseanna Cash, Stuart Duncan and Allison Moorer hold up the western end of this transatlantic bridge, ranging from the thoroughly modern Tower Song to the fiddle classic Lee Highway Blues. At the eastern end, there’s space for the Gaelic voices of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and James Graham, the traditional Black is the Colour from Karan Casey and the contemporary Worry Not by Liam Ó Maonlaí. The beautiful Bethany’s Waltz, written by Jenna Reid for her sister, shows a different side of Shetland fiddling fron the virtuoso medley by consumate showman Aly Bain. The final track mixes vocals and pipes, the Scottish smallpipes of Allan MacDonald and the Irish pipes of Ronan Browne, on a set of great tunes shared by both traditions.
There’s plenty of fun, plenty of variety, and the geographic width is more than matched by world-class quality on this CD.
Alex Monaghan

We Were Drinking and Kissing the Ladies
Killeen Music 002
12 tracks, 39 minutes

This recording is full of fine music from Michael “Blackie” O’Connell, an uilleann piper, and fellow Clare man, Hugh Healy on concertina. Reared around the pubs and hotels of Doolin, as they acknowledge in the album notes, Healy and O’Connell seem to be barely out of their teens, yet they handle their instruments like master musicians. Travers’ Number 2 and The Boy in the Gap display exemplary unison playing, with some tasty regulator work from Blackie. Tumble the Tinker gives more scope for interweaving melodies - the middle Harty Boys jig is an absolute smasher with wild high notes on the chanter and rumbling chords from the concertina. Blackie turns to the snare drum for the clan march O’Sullivan The Great - he’s a veritable one-man pipe band on this Céilí favourite.
The Boys of Ballinahinch starts another set of reels with raw traveller-style chords on the offbeat. The title track adds John and Johnny Kelly on fiddles for a full powerful sound on a cracking pair of jigs worth playing just for their titles. The next selection sees the tradition in action, as what you might have thought was Phil Cunningham’s march The Hut on Staffin Island becomes the traditional set dance The Hut on Staten Island, a relocation of a couple of thousand miles westwards plus a slight increase in pace. All bar two tracks on this recording are duets, with one solo each. Hugh takes a leisurely stroll through The Ace & Deuce of Piping, crisply played even at this slow tempo. Michael rattles out two classic reels in a tight closed fingering, with big crans and staccato runs, a gripping contrast to his more fluid style elsewhere.
Session stalwart, Cyril O’Donoghue backs these boys discreetly on bouzouki, and there are a few other guests scattered sparing through the twelve tracks here, but to be honest the pipes and concertina could have carried this recording on their own. There’s one more surprise in store with the modern effects on Port an Ghrá, a mystic jig played over the brooding piano of Elaine Hogan. The lads finish with a storming set of reels: The Trip to Birmingham, Darby’s Farewell - two Josie McDermott tunes I believe - and The Lady on the Island which was popularised by Planxty’s piper.
This is a gem of a recording, and a testament to the talents of two players who should still be delighting us for many decades to come.
Alex Monaghan

Own Label SDE004
10 tracks, 51 minutes

Recorded live on tour in Ireland, this CD plays to the strengths which Slide have demonstrated in their three studio albums. Mighty Munster music in the shape of McHugh’s Single Jig is followed by the first of several Donegal touches with The Low Highland. Flowing flute and fiddle alternate with the percussive power of Aogán Lynch’s concertina. A couple of cracking slides complete the opening track. Most of Beo is instrumental, most of that being traditional dance music with a smattering of new compositions. Aogán’s polka The Humours of Ballycullen sits well with Padraig O’Keeffe’s Slide and the Scots classic Cutting Bracken: no reference to fiddler Daire Bracken, I trust, whose graceful reel The Watchmaker’s Cloth joins tunes by Vincent Broderick and Dermie Diamond in the climactic set here.
Slide have taken the wise step of recruiting Dave Curley to sing the three songs on this recording. Dave’s strong pleasant voice makes a good job of Paul Brady’s Follow On, the traditional Maid of Culmore, and Daire’s See Thru Blue with intriguing lyrics and a fine melody. Dave’s guitar complements Mick Broderick’s bouzouki, which is a key part of the Slide sound in songs and tunes alike, whether delicately backing Gordon Gunn’s sublime Gillian’s Waltz or pumping energy into Paddy Taylor’s Reel. The reels on this CD are plentiful and varied, with a seven-minute medley of solos and ensemble playing culminating in a fabulous rendition of Fred Finn’s. Other highlights include Ol’ Man Lynch, an old-timey selection, and a sparkling flute foray on The Highland Man from Eamonn De Barra. Eamonn’s galvanising performances are too often in the background here, but that’s pretty much my only criticism of Beo.
This is an exceptionally fine live album from a great band, and I’d recommend it to anyone.
Alex Monaghan


Robbie O’Connell, Aoife & Donal Clancy
11 Tracks
Aodoro CD 2010-1

I approached this album with trepidation. How can anyone better the contribution of Liam, Tom, Bobby and Tommy? Looking at the track listing my trepidation grew. The eleven tracks on offer were mainly ones we associate with the original group.
I need not have feared. From the first notes of the first track A Jug of Punch I knew I was in a new era, a new tradition and in for a great listening experience. These three truly professional performers carrying the incomparable Clancy gene have produced the next evolutionary step in Irish and indeed international folk music.
Probably realising that few could better the rousing renditions of our traditional songs they have produced an album of much sweeter and in many ways more beautiful songs. A Jug of Punch sung in a more laid back style makes a completely new song and one where like so many other tracks on offer here, we can more fully appreciate the lyrics in their intricate beauty.
Aoife gives a lovely performance on The Gallant Forty Twa ably assisted by Robbie and Donal on backing. The Verdant Braes of Skreen has pitched up on numerous albums in recent years but even listening to the lovely guitar introduction I knew this was the ultimate rendition - for now at least. The performance is so gentle and yet powerful and the diction crystal clear. It is an absolute joy to hear.
The album is worth purchasing for the wonderful Let No Man Steal Your Thyme. This is not the more familiar version but it is outstanding and I implore the radio stations to give it airtime. This CD features many songs that you will have loved when performed by what I suppose we might call the original Clancys but I guarantee that this new generation singing The Banks of the Roses, Ho Re Ho Ro, Quare Bungle Rye and Soldier, Soldier will give you new heart. The songs are here fresh and just familiar enough to stir memories.
Robbie O’Connell, already renowned for his solo work, has done something very unusual on some tracks. Where so often singers have taken traditional songs and added new lyrics, he turns it on its head and puts new music to some established lyrics.
Nicky Rossiter

Tom Acton
New Folk Records NFR 4108

Acton hails from Dublin but has perfected his skills as singer and songwriter through twenty years performing throughout Europe. And that exile has sharpened not only his considerable song writing abilities but his focus when it comes to capturing an Irish sense of place. This is an album of fourteen tracks comes almost exclusively from his own pen and as such is an excellent showcase of his talent and ability. He states that he draws inspiration from Ireland and its poets and writers. He is at his best in the story songs that entice the listener into the tale to the extent that we are hooked and waiting for the outcome.
A good example of this has to be The Water Song inspired by a visit to Avoca. Listen to it and remember another writer inspired by the same scene - Thomas Moore who wrote ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ about the same place.
Perhaps the best track on offer here is a sort of short biography called ‘The Great Johnny Doran’. The song/story is a social history of Ireland and its music in the first half of the 20th century. Evocation of past times continues on Ramelton Town as he recounts the enchantment of a song heard by a campfire.
The title track recalls his inspirations for the album. His Richard Brinsley Sheridan homage is a more up beat Here’s To that will lift the heart and mind. Other locations recalled in song include Cobh Town and Lissadell.
Although released a few years back if you enjoy new folk music and recalling our past this is worth the effort of seeking out.
Nicky Rossiter

Various Artists
Vlo Iar Connacht CCD 09
19 Tracks

Ranafast (Rann na Feirste), The Rosses, West Donegal - home to 341 people spread over about 500 acres of concentrated culture. There is hardly a house here without live-in music and song, dancing and story-telling, poetry and song-writing. Ranafast is one of the few remaining strongholds of the Irish language. Though Ranafast has no shops, pubs or even a post office, it does have a strong Irish language centre - Coláiste Bhrígde. And soon, hopefully, a working Community Centre.
The whole village, along with friends and fans, are singing, dancing, making music, collecting and fighting to get their Community Centre up and running. Many renowned artists from the Irish music scene can trace their roots back to this area, or have covered songs and tunes from Ranafast. These include: Dónal Lunny (Planxty, Bothy Band, Moving Hearts), Mánus Lunny (Capercaillie), Moya Brennan (Clannad), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan), Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill (Bothy Band), Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill (Skara Brae).
These stars got together with Seosamh Mac Grianna, Dónall Mac Ruairí, Conny Mhary Mhicí Ó Gallchoir, Rosanna Ní Dhónaill, Charlie Ghracie ác Grianna and a dozen other brilliantly talented local heroes to support the Community Centre with a CD launch. For free!
All eighteen songs and the tune-set are (with one exception) exclusive to the CD. All are artistically excellent. They are new recordings and have been published by the committee ‘Aislann Rann na Feirste’ under the title Ceol Cheann Dubhrann – Ceol agus Amhráin Rann na Feirste.
The stylistic range covers Sean Nós songs like Úirchill an Chreagáin; other unaccompanied songs like Cianach Corrach; love songs like Má Théid tú chun Aonaigh as well as up-tempo songs such as La Breá Te sa tSamhradh.
You can always hear the creative and sensitive ‘Lunnyism’ in the arrangements and instrumental accompaniments. Mánus and Dónal Lunny’s musical feats on keyboard, bouzouki, bodhrán and guitars lift some of these songs up into entirely new spheres of influence and appreciation. We get everything from soft keyboard harmonies to challenging finger-picking on the guitar or bouzouki, to a rock-coloured treatment of some traditional songs, plus bass and bodhrán-percussion.
The compilation album Ceol Cheann Dubhrann presents Gaeilge at its best. For the following three top hits alone, the album is worth the money: Méilte Cheann Dubhrann – by Moya Brennan, interpreted in the best Clannad-tradition, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s touching love song ‘Má Théid tú chun Aonaigh’, and Caidé sin don té sin’ with great vocal harmonies by Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.
A fantastic tin whistle/concert flute/jig/reel tune-set (Ruball an Bhardail) by Seosamh and Seosamh Óg Mac Grianna complete the album, produced masterfully and with great skill by Mánus Lunny in his own studio.
The only down-point: with seventy minutes play time there should have been time for an additional tune-set. But this could easily be remedied in the future - fans of Ceol Cheann Dubhrann would definitely enjoy Ceol Cheann Dubhrann Vol.2 after a respectful but (hopefully) short lapse of time.
Harald Juengst


About Time
11 tracks - Self Published

There is a certain vulnerability when showcasing musicianship on a tenor banjo as the string precision takes no prisoners when it comes to assessing talent. Delightfully Stevie Dunne on his debut CD confirms his mastery of the instrument with a set of eleven tracks that are a breath of fresh air.
Originally from the fishing village of Clogherhead in County Louth, and now a stalwart of the Belfast music scene including previous spells with the bands Luasc and Ánfa; Dunne incorporates key changes, tempo changes, and a flourish of ornamentation, where needed, to embrace his obvious regard for his chosen instruments, the tenor banjo and guitar.
From the opening track we are treated to a vibrant set of jigs King of the Pipers and House on the Hill played with clarity and impact and from there we are pulled into Dunne’s own compositions of Bolies Road sweeping to an uplifting intro for Siobhán McGaughey’s in honour of his wife. Another excellent intro is showcased on George Peoples where strings and percussion collide in a whirlwind of synergy that continues with the lively title track ‘About Time’ and one of my personal highlights is an inspiring ’Damian’s Reel’ to honour the sad passing of Dunne’s brother-in-law Damian Noble.
The arrangements throughout the album are well considered and administered and the various guest musicians, namely Donál O’Connor, Ryan O’Donnell and Francis Mcllduff embellish the sound with subtle artistry. The eleven tracks are an endorsement of Dunne’s expertise as a musician. Strings are his forte and this enchanting debut CD is an excellent verification of this!
One final word if you can go and visit his website, it’s a joy to experience and clearly shows his love of the music and the instruments on which it is played.
Eileen McCabe

For Reasons Unseen
Own Label HJC2009
12 tracks, 53 minutes

This Boston-based fiddler has a handful of albums under her belt, and her tunes have been picked up by many musicians - Boston Urban Céilídh, Waiting for the Dawn, Tennessee Quick Cash, all on previous recordings. As a live performer, Hanneke is probably best-known as part of the Cathie Ryan band, although she plays in many other line-ups. For Reasons Unseen presents a dozen new tracks, mostly Cassel compositions, with Hanneke adding piano and vocals to her fiddling. There’s guitar and cello through most of the album, provided by several well-known friends.
Hanneke plays in a cosmopolitan style, drawing on Irish and Scottish traditions as well as the rich pickings of American fiddling. Her music is sweet, precise, gentle and powerful by turns, ranging from the earthy traditional Dusky Meadow and her own fiery reel Leila’s Birthday to the angelic waltz Brooklyn’s Lullaby. She writes excellent tunes, and plays them superbly - examples here are Blackberry Festival Footrace, a potent pagan jig, and Cali’s Wedding which sits somewhere between a march and a strathspey but is a beautiful composition either way.
Check out for more information on all her recordings.
Alex Monaghan