Releases > August 2012 Releases

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Chapter Eight
Own Label KCB101, 14 Tracks, 49 Minutes
One of the many descriptions of the term chapter is ‘an identifiable period in the history or development of something’. If you apply this narrative to the long established Kilfenora Céilí Band you will find this undoubtedly rings true and Chapter Eight is the latest production by an reputable group of musicians who retain a freshness through innovation whilst ensuring that the anchor of their origins remains firmly embedded in the tradition.
Following from their Centenary Celebrations in 2009 the Kilfenora stalwarts have ensured that their musical presentation has incorporated not only an ability to excel in the provision of a high class dancing environment but also an understanding that people want to be able to step back, give the feet a rest and enjoy the sounds that are irresistible to the dance. Hence Chapter Eight proves the adage of innovation that has kept the Kilfenora Céilí Band in the upper echelons of their game. The adaption of céilí to extend to the concert environment has been served through the addition of Don Stiffe’s remarkable voice and the utilisation of the agreeably non-traditional instrumentation in the form of the Double Bass, Viola and Cello.
This progression has in no way detracted from the signature driving lift of the traditional dance tunes that the band is famed for its deliverance on. The opening set of reels entitled The Banner County vibrate with the driving rhythm that fits so nicely with the instinctive dance step yet the intricate arrangementsare worthy of the discerning ear and this dual entertainment weaves through the next few tracks of jigs and reels before marching into a forceful military two step. The precision of notation is a standout in Quadrilling in Cork and the vivacious march Belfast Bound, which are secured to the precise beat of the percussive domain. Even the traditional choice of song is given a fresh twist as the old favourites Galway Bay and Come By The Hills are effortlessly administered through the vocals of Don Stiffe and enhanced by a subtle yet gorgeous instrumental.
This, the latest chapter in an ever-adapting display of musicianship, yet again changes the perception of Céilí whilst positively retaining the traditions upon which the band was established. However much you want to listen to the quality of the musical offering though I guarantee that your feet will inadvertently beg to dance.
Eileen McCabe


10 Tracks, 44 Minutes, 8 Seconds
Own Label GSE CD 02

Produced and mixed by Donal Lunny, “Transformed sees Goitse transfer from the periphery to the big league” so wrote John O’Reagan in a recent interview with the band in Irish Music Magazine.
All the evidence from this album is that they have indeed shifted into another gear, not only does the album emphasise this metamorphosis by sporting a butterfly on the cover but the website image shows a band assured and ready to take on the world. Dressed like young go getter executives, their college clothes cast of for something more polished, more refined, more chilled.
All of those qualities are evident in the music in this album, indeed from track 1 Dowd’s No 10, they lay down the principles, laconic banjo, pulsing box, little duets, a punctuated bass line on the guitar, they are nimble with Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and counter on the second selection with the robust and hearty Jim Childress’ The Road to Malvern.There’s an Americana Old-timey feeling to a lot of this album, it’ not so much the style s the dynamics, they add more space than you’ find in the run of the mill traditional album. Transformed, the tune composed by Áine McGeeeney and Colm Phelan. It is a slow burner, a fiddle piece built on very strong deliberate rhythmic foundations.
Their sound has become softer, less jagged, there is more lyricism in their playing, a confidence with the back beat and more swing in the reels and jigs. Like a butterfly they’ve taken flight and their diary is filling up rapidly, flitting from gig to gig. Yet a sense of fragility permeates their work, chiefly in the voice of Áine Mc Geeney, which still has a youthful sweetness, a degree of tender hesitation on Erin on the Rhine and an attractive innocence on a duet with David Curley. There are tunes a plenty, from the band themselves and other composers. Charlie Lennon’s The Ladies Choice, a Swedish air played on the guitar Aoc O and a rousing set of reels to close, and before I forget atribute to a wardrobe malfunction.
This is Goiste all grown up, and ready for the road, just imagine what another year will do to them.
Seán Laffey

Own Label JCDK001
14 Tracks, 54 Minutes
One of the great things about traditional music is that you don’t have to be a fantastic musician to entertain people. If you did, the music would have died out long ago: how many fantastic musicians are born to each generation in the average country parish? Less than one, I’ll wager. Yet the music of sparsely populated areas like Donegal and Sliabh Luachra has thrived despite famine, emigration, depopulation and fiscal instability. Precisely because of players like Cronin and Kearney, your average session stalwarts, with a feel for the music and an appreciation of its importance: they’re happy to play in local pubs for the sheer joy of making music. In this particular case, they play in the East Cork whiskey mecca of Midleton - I have a couple of bottles on my top shelf – and they play the music of the rushy mountain, several parishes distant, for the enjoyment of drinkers in Wallis’ Bar. John Cronin’s button box style evolved not so far away, in Newmarket, a place associated with Sliabh Luachra music in many ways. John’s father DD Cronin was a well–known fiddler, and Padraig O’Keeffe taught John’s brother. The Cliffords and the Doodys were no strangers in the Cronin house either. DD Cronin’s name is attached to two of the tunes on this recording. We’ll come to the tunes in a moment, but first I should explain that Daithí Kearney has a more recent and tenuous connecttion to Sliabh Luachra, being a Kerry man from Tralee, and although he may be more at home with reels and jigs his banjo style fits the polkas and slides here perfectly.
About half of Midleton Rare is given over to the distinctive bouncy beat of those deceptively simple dance tunes: Scart Slide, Ballyvourney Polka, The Cascade, The Quarry Cross and many more. DD Cronin has a slide and a polka named for him, and several other familiar figures are similarly honoured here: Jim Keeffe, Tom Billy, John Walsh, Dan O’ Connell the famous Knocknagree landlord and friend of Johnny O’Leary, and even Captain Bing who may have visited Sliabh Luachra incognito. Box and banjo complement each other nicely, and while their unison is not always total there is an understanding between them, and I have to say that they give great lift and energy to these old familiar tunes. Cronin and Kearney are playing dance music, and it shows. The reels, jigs, hornpipes and waltzes also have a swing to them, a Sliabh Luachra lilt, and mostly they are drawn from the repertoires of O’Keeffe, Murphy, O’Leary, Clifford and the like. John Brosnan’s Reel, The Trip to Cullenstown by Phil Murphy, and Rodney Miller’s Bluemont Waltz may be too recent to have formed the core of Cork-Kerry cross-border collaboration, but they slip nicely in with Callaghan’s, The House in the Glen and The Galtee Ranger.
John and Daithí are joined on several tracks by accomplished friends on bouzouki, bodhrán, pipes, fiddle and flute, adding variety and depth to a very enjoyable duo recording.
Alex Monaghan

A Dressing Room Session
Appel Rekords APR1337
13 Tracks, 40 Minutes
There’s no serious cliché or message in the latest from Snakes in Exile. True to the previous releases from the Belgian based group; the main theme of A Dressing Room Session is fun. Unashamed indulgence shines through the vocal on each track and it’s the enjoyment the guys get from singing with each other that stands out. Luc Baillieul, Kristiaan Malisse, Gert Meulemans and Peter Van Aken are joined by guest musicians Bart Cuyvers and Philip Masure where they open up the secrets of the sessions that are played, not to an audience, but the comfort of their dressing room. Some, they say, have made their usual set list; others however are hidden gems that have remained backstage until now.
Imagine a local pub session with a sing-along in full force and everyone joining in with gusto. Now imagine the same session with voices that have an ability to produce a vocal harmony that in some cases obliterates the instrumental sound as it draws you into the fold. The ambience and energy are the same throughout but the benefit is the quality of professionalism and this is apparent in the flowing version of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing that combines lead vocal with just the right amount of harmony to appreciate the lyrical tone. Other songs given the harmonic treatment are Share the Darkness made popular by The Saw Doctors, Mcllhatton, Wild Mountain Thyme and Caledonia.
Baillieul and Van Aken showcase their own lyric with a beautiful whistling introduction to The Sun is on its Way and the purity in the tone of Van Aken’s whistling on this is unwavering and adds to an already choice song. The guys become the song and the song becomes the various parts of the vocal.
With enough variety to keep you captivated; A Dressing Room Session is a welcome invitation to an entertaining album.
Eileen McCabe

Islands, Shearwater SWMCD004,
12 Tracks, 56 Minutes
A young Tasmanian fiddler, Bushby grew up listening to Irish and Scottish music – and sheep, probably. He was something of a teenage prodigy, and is now a fiddle student in Newcastle Upon Tyne. His grasp of traditional tunes is impressive, and he’s certainly been exposed to a wide range of fiddle music – John Carty’s minor jig Seanamhac Tube Station, Aidan O’Rourke’s reel Waves of Rush, Allan MacDonald’s foot-tapping Tatties and Herring, and Bushby’s own Trip to Harris testify to that. At a slower tempo, Dubliners fiddler John Sheehan is the source of Christchurch Cathedral, while Donald Riddell’s west highland air The Falls of Lora and a beautiful Norwegian hymn tune vie with the traditional Mo Run Geal Og for my preference. There are also several outstanding tunes from the Scottish piping tradition – McNeils of Ugadale, The Heights of Cassino, The Periwig and more.
Malcolm’s fiddle sound is quite muted, coaxed rather than driven from the strings. Even the whistle may overcome it, and the comnbination of guitar and piano accompaniment can force the fiddle into the background. On the other hand, Malcolm’s duet with Iain MacDonald’s flute on the Irish air The Young Black Cow is an absolute pearl. I would take issue with the timing on some tracks here: Bushby has a rough-edged approach to tempo, which adds bite to his solo fiddle pieces, but occasionally he slips away from his accompanists. Cameron Chisholm’s Strathspey and Hamnataing are examples where the warp and weft of this music threaten to part company, but these young musicians manage to hold it together and the album ends on a dreamy high. Islands is an intriguing mix of grit and gentleness, of commotion and calm. I wonder which way Malcolm Bushby’s music will turn. With distribution through Highlander Music, this unique new takent should be easy to find. You can sample it online.
Alex Monaghan


Own Label 2011

The subtitle of this CD Traditional Church Hymns and Irish Ballads could make or break it depending on the person browsing the rack. Let me just say forget the subtitle. This a collection of good old and not so old songs beautifully sung by a talented performer who obviously loves the material.
He opens with Phil Coulter’s Town I Loved so Well and gives a rendition that might give the great Luke Kelly version a run for its money. Moloney has a melodious and strong voice ideally suited to his material and he is in his element on Amazing Grace that we so often associate with pipers and American folk singers. The performance on the title track is equally good and his diction gives us all the words in clear definition reminding us of the story commemorated by the song.
Other standards given the Moloney treatment include Morning Has Broken, Danny Boy and The Auld Triangle. Naturally we get a strong rendition of Fields of Athenry before he closes proceedings with Our Father.
This is a good, solid album of well– known and loved songs and Moloney does justice to each and every one of them.
Nicky Rossiter

The Best of Tim Edey
Gnatbite Records, 18 Tracks, 66 Minutes
Just over ten years ago, Tim Edey released his first album Daybreak and since then has been enthralling listeners with both his compositional and instrumental prowess ever since. The latest milestone in this meteoric musical career has been the accolade of winning the BBC Radio Two Folk Awards Musician of the Year so what better way to remind us of his intrinsic ability on button and string then now in his The Best of Tim Edey album.
His very first compositional tune was Baltic Arrival and let it be known that the quality of engagement and technical ability is as high on this track as it is with his more recent work. The same can be said for the beautifully rendered Emma’s Tune which tenderly grips the emotion of parting ways with the past and glides into the sublime Why? in which Edey delicately ensures that each note embodies the feeling of the theme. It’s not all thought provoking sensitivity though; Edey displays his cheeky side with established cohort Brendan Power on harmonica in The Congress Set where they drive along in complementary style whilst stamping their individuality in a whirlwind of buttons and breath. The pace gathers momentum in a powering crescendo as The Reculver Polkas ebbs and flows with a luminosity that entices. A calming influence descends as a beautiful guitar intro signals the Dawning of the Day Samba proving that Edey is master of whatever musical style he decides to play.
That’s the essence of Edey. Whether solo or in a group his technical and emotive aptitude is highlighted in any piece of music he immerses himself in. If this is the best of the last ten years I’m looking forward to the next ten already.
Eileen McCabe

The Mysteries of Life
Own Label, 14 Tracks, 48 Minutes

The air to the well–known song, The Star of the County Down, and its many variants keeps turning up in traditional songs here and in North America. It’s even used as the air to a much–loved hymn in the Anglican Church, and very well it sounds, too. In his latest CD, Tony O’Leary has echoes of the tune in the title track, The Mysteries of Life, a song inspired by the Long Range Mountains located in western Newfoundland, Canada, which is Tony’s part of the world. It’s a beautiful part of this island province and though it’s not heavily populated, people like Tony are actively involved in making sure it stays safe for future generations.
So it’s not at all surprising that the care of nature and the protection of the wilderness is one of the themes in the songs Tony writes: “I encourage all our young people to conserve and protect all of our wild spaces, for if we do not, the future of the next generation will be compromised. I hope that in the future we will all look at nature as an extension of ourselves.”
Currently, the question of preserving our bogs in Ireland is a hot issue, and believe it or not, Tony, too, has that subject as a theme in one of his songs, What are ya doing to me bog, boys? However, the bogs in question are not in Ireland but in Newfoundland, and that most Irish of islands has lots of them, though not worked quite as intensively as the ones in ‘the ould sod’. In the song Tony urges people not to depend so much on religious dogma and suggests to those who are looking for solutions that ‘the answers are in the woods and the trees’.
Among the instruments Tony plays is the accordion, and he has a supply of dance tunes included in the CD, backed up by individual musicians and – wait for it – none other than the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra! Beat that! And if that isn’t enough to grab your interest, may I offer as ‘a teaser’ of sorts, that you consider these two intriguing titles from Tony’s latest production: My Little Armalite and What da ya do with a hairy-arsed bayman? I should explain that in Newfoundland they have their equivalent of ‘jackeens’ and ‘culchies’ when slaggin’ one another or poking fun, all good-natured enjoyment, naturally: people in St. John’s, the capital, are townies and pretty-well everyone else from the coves and harbours around the bay are known as baymen or even, at times, as baywops – so-called by the ‘townies’ of course.
It’s obvious Tony enjoys his music, and this certainly comes through in this new album of his – big-time orchestra or not – and it’s the sort of lively fun Newfoundlanders have in their homes at what they call ‘times’ and ‘kitchen rackets’.
Aidan O’Hara

Life’s Journey
MSP 011 2011

Stiffe won me over immediately with May You Never John Martyn’s wonderful love song of sorts as he launched into this collection of great songs from many pens including a few of his own.
He continues with a lovely take on Christy Hennessy’s song about the life of the performer, Roll Back the Clouds showing his ability to slow it down as well.
Along with the well–known tracks he intersperses those that may not be as famous but deserve airplay. One of these Manuela a sad tribute to a young girl murdered in our green pleasant land.
His own song–writing talent comes to the fore on another song telling a story about another trait in Ireland. Gossip tells it all in the title and apparently it was inspired finding his mother upset by gossip. His Promise of Spring hauntingly evokes a great feeling of missing a lover.
I particularly liked his performance of a traditional song called Willie Rambler another in the genre of story song.
Many listeners will recall sunshine, green grass and long days as he recounts a long lost youth of summers past on Summer Holidays. You don’t need to be from Galway , every city, town and village will have memories that will be awakened listening to this one.
There can be no better finale to this album or to a lovely enjoyable session than John Smith’s beautiful show closer, Safe Home,
Let’s hope we hear more from Stiffe not just on CD but on the airways.
Nicky Rossiter

Out on the Back Roads
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 55 Minutes

Probably one of the best compliments to give to a song writer on listening to an array of original compositions is that the songs have an aura of timelessness that veer towards the classic. I felt this on listening to the songs on Kieran Wade’s latest release Out on The Back Roads. The Dublin born singer/songwriter draws influence to his lyricism from time spent living and playing in both Lancashire, UK and Canada however the standout vibe throughout the album is his attachment to his homeland.
The tracks are traditional in style yet are contemporary to the times and I was surprised to learn that the opening song Hatch 17 was actually written during the Celtic Tiger years as it succinctly describes the hardship of the recession. The mood turns to enthusiasm in Going Home as he describes sitting on a plane waiting to return to Ireland where he will be ‘drinking with the boys before too long’. The lift in the lyrics is enhanced by a sprightly Garry O’Briain piano backing complemented by Rick Epping’s lively harmonica.
There’s a poignancy to The Silent Stones which draws the focus to the emotive tone in Wade’s vocal in a quietly captivating frame which melts into a raucous rendition of Trip to the Fleadh with which the lyrics perfectly capture snapshots of sessions as they head to ‘Miltown, Sligo or Listowel’ which culminates in Tommy Keane’s pipes providing a fine example of the tunes and ambience the song perpetuates.
Wade is a man who knows what makes a good song and the best way to sing it. The maturity in the performance and the empathy with the lyrics makes Out on the Back Roads an album to listen to.
Eileen McCabe