Releases > January 2013 Releases

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I Love the Noise it Makes

Warner Music 2564658009
12 Tracks, 43 Minutes

Declan Sinnott’s debut solo album has been long awaited–his influence either direct or indirect has guided the music of Horslips, Moving Hearts, Southpaw and Mary Black to name a few. Currently working with Christy Moore he has also been pursuing a sporadic solo career. The emergence of I Love The Noise It Makes belies a long gestation period. It reveals Declan Sinnott as a gifted song– writer as well as his expected musical ability.
Self–produced and played it’s a solo effort in every sense – sparse yet complex, accessible yet multi layered, tasteful yet forthright. Collaborating with Owen O’Brien lyrically the results are impressive and well–honed observationally.
The immediate Sun Shine creates a good time vibe while the loping JJ Cale type groves of the title track and the lo–fi pop/folk of Me And My Dark Companion also make positive impressions. Sinnott’s vocals are clear and upfront his electric guitar oozing on the title track and deft Jazz like chords on the ambient instrumental Orbit. Evocative settings of Corrina Corrina and Circle Round the Sun (aka I Know My Baby) display his tasteful approach to reconstructing familiar Blues idioms into fresh vibrant creations. Classy and tasteful.
I Love The Noise It Makes is definitely a work of love.
John O’Regan

DVD Home in Ireland
Rovers Records 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Rover Records IRD0212, 14 Tracks, 47 Minutes
Rover Records IRD1111, 15 tracks, 50 Minutes
In the DVD, The Irish Rovers – Home in Ireland, viewers are taken on a journey along the northeast coast of Ireland that includes visits to Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway, Glenarm Castle, and a feast of music, song and dance from the Irish Rovers concert at Waterfront Hall, Belfast. The lads are joined by special guests Foster and Allen, Cathal McConnell, The Gerry O’Connor Band, Patrick Davey, Morris Crum, and the World Champion Doherty Irish Dancers. It’s very clear throughout the DVD that the group, their music guests and the audience are having a whale of a time, reveling in nostalgia, fun and frolics, and just simply having a great time. All the attendant publicity surrounding the making of Home in Ireland and through word of mouth afterwards means that online sales for the Rovers recent albums are greater in Ireland and Europe than they are in Canada where it all began for them 45 years ago!
George Millar is the host at the Waterfront Hall concert and after a lifetime with the group he has lost none of his skills as a singer songwriter with a terrific line of patter on stage. For example, in his introduction to the Shel Silverstein’s The Unicorn, the song that brought the Rovers international fame in the late 1960s, he says, “Here’s a song we sang back in (mumbles the years). See if you remember it, and hopefully, so will we!” To laughter from everyone in the hall, they start singing and all join in, and we’re wafted back on wings of song to fun–filled times and happy memories.
Also, the group’s recent albums, Drunken Sailor, a collection of sea songs, and Merry Merry Time of Year, songs for the season of Christmas, have gained the Rovers increasing attention on the radio airwaves across North America with a much younger audience boost. Through his song, The Titanic, on the Drunken Sailor CD, George succeeds in setting the record straight about where the great ship was built. It seems that many North Americans thought it was Liverpool because that was the name on the stern of the ship! The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently highlighted the song in the documentary, The Pride of Belfast, which featured George and the Harland and Wolff shipyards where the mighty vessel was built.
For superannuated Rovers admirers like myself, it’s a pleasure to report that not only is the zest and spirit they were famous for all those years still there, it’s been added to and made new for today’s audiences. The two members from the 1960s, George Millar, and accordion player, Wilcil McDowell, are still in top form and have an endless array of amusing stories from their long career. Joe Millar retired in 2005, and his son, Ian, has taken his place. Big Sean O’Driscoll and John Reynolds have been playing with the band for 20 years, and drummer Fred Graham has been touring with the lads since 2007.
The Irish Rovers are in great voice, the best of humour, and are good for many more years to come.
Aidan O’Hara

Irish Eyes
11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
Free State Records, CR0010

There are some amongst us who can clearly remember the Walton’s Radio programme on the wireless, a Saturday morning show that filled the kitchens of Ireland with our own music. It was firm favourite in our household. My father was a big Brenda O’Dowda fan and Walton’s could be relied on to play that sort of music. Then, The Clancy’s, The Dubliners and later Planxty came on the scene and the ballads just took over.
Fifty years on and Jimmy Crowley has revisited those songs we would hear every weekend, here are a few, The Isle of Indiscreet, The Dublin Saunter, The Tumbledown Shack in Athlone, Red Sails in the Sunset. All great songs, much neglected, perhaps they fell out of fashion because they were big productions, usually the singer was backed by an orchestra the arrangements therefore were less than folky.
So how has Jimmy treated these heirlooms? Very well indeed, the music has been arranged by Ian Dale, and it is complex enough to warrant a steadying hand. Jimmy’s folksong credentials shine through and his mandolins and mandocello mark him out as a child of the folk revival. But there’s also a good deal of period swing and Django style guitar from Dale, add in Mary Black on backing vocals, Donagh Long on keyboards, some accordion from Pat McNamara and host of other players and you can get an idea of the richness of sound that Jimmy has brought to the party.
Is it more than just a nostalgia trip? Well yes I think it is. There are passages of period pastiche, the lap steel guitar reminds me of early country music you’d have heard on the airwaves in 1963, but, the songs are as good as ever, they were all hits in their day, and for good reason, easy on the ear melodies, memorable turns of phrases an infectious arrangements. Then there’s the dark realisation that this was music being made when emigration was at it height, when these songs were vital links to the thousands of émigrés who were rebuilding Britain’s economy. They were happy links to home. As the album closed , I found my self humming the Darling Girl From Clare. Ah Jimmy you’re the devil, you’re leading me astray!
Seán Laffey

20, Island Records, 20 Tracks – Double CD

It’s a monumental milestone for the folk songstress who has, for twenty years, imparted her vocal talent to multitudes and what a way to mark her twenty year achievement than to release a compilation of twenty tracks on a Double CD, they are a timely testament to Kate Rusby’s rich talent. To make it all the more interesting, she is joined on each track by a complementary vocal artist, from Paul Weller, Dick Gaughan, Eddi Reader, Paul Brady and Declan O’Rourke. Funnily though it is the stirring duet with her husband and band member Damian O’Kane that hits home as the intro draws you into the gripping Bitter Boy which showcases Rusby’s vocal beautifully as she intertwines with a superb O’Kane accompaniment, which is further enhanced by a simple yet effective piano and string backing.
Whether it is deliberate or not, the guest artists are most definitely secondary to the central Rusby vocal on each track. Weller does dominate on Sun Grazers, as the two converse in ‘a blaze of glory’ through the powerful song with Rusby utilising her experience of many years to exhibit the track in its full potential. Gaughan and Reader emphasise the uplift of tone in Wandering Souls as the appealing song is treated with the vocal respect it deserves. The O’Rourke duet, Bring me a Boat, is given an empathetic treatment with both voices highlighting the harmonic beauty of the lyric perfectly. A fitting finale to twenty tracks of enchanting Rusby retrospective.
Whilst there is variation between each song, the emotion generated is consistent; that is a melancholic wistfulness emulated by the breathy Rusby tones that are tinged with a poignant sadness that can draw you into an abyss of pensive reflection. This is an album that perfectly befits the unique vocal sweetness of an iconic Folk treasure who’s not just Barnsley’s Nightingale anymore; the world of Folk claimed her a long time ago.
Eileen McCabe

Let The Fairies In
Songs for young and old
11 Tracks, Gael Linn, CEFCD166

Come away for a year and a day in a boat on a rainbow stream,
where little folk meet with the stars at their feet
on a dazzling light moon beam.
Oh hand in hand with the magical band
away to fairyland dreaming and dancing
away from the world today
go the little ones when they’re sleeping.
Padraigín Ní Uallacháin one of Ireland’s finest traditional singers informs us in the detailed booklet with enchanting cover illustrated by Gilly Cullen that Let the Fairies In is a sister album to her landmark recording of A Stór is a stóirín, so true. In this masterpiece, Padraigín again steps into another world and beckons us to leave the weary materialistic society behind.
The Magical Band is one of two originals amongst traditional gems such as Dancing Child, As I Roved Out, The Field Mouse’s Ball and Dance All Day. That song encompasses what the whole album is about, whether we played with frogs in the fields or a ball in the entry, these songs are part of our lives. For instance My Aunt Jane and Fair Rosa catapult me to the schoolyard. Sourcing her repertoire from song legends such as Sarah Makem, Davy Hammond and Elizabeth Cronin amongst others, Padraigín brings her unique gift of opening our eyes to a world that’s there if we just look.
Add in a magical dust from an ensemble of Ireland’s finest musicians and Dónal O’Connor assisting at the reigns As The Fairy Walk fades, you can see the little folk dance into the distant shady glade, you can if you just let the fairies in.
Josephine Mulvenna

Go Mairir I Bhfad/Long Life To You
Tara Music

Renowned fiddler, Zoë Conway returns some six years after her last album with a novel project which is based around commissioned pieces from some of Ireland’s best–known composers and musicians. Inspired by her music students’ requests for new tunes, Go MairíÌr í Bhfad features original reels, jigs and slow airs from the likes of Liz Carroll, Peadar Ó Riada, Niall Vallely, Frankie Gavin and Andy Irvine.
If that wasn’t enough, we also have marvellous explorations penned by Bill Whelan (an early champion of Zoë’s and producer of her first album), the vastly underrated Steve Cooney, and the legendary Donal Lunny. Did I mention that Mícheál Ó’Súilleabháin, Tommy Peoples and Charlie Lennon have also contributed to the album. It reads like a who’s who of Irish music.
The Louth woman has the fluid accompaniment of her guitarist husband, John McIntyre, whose expressive playing matches that of his wife’s. This is no small feat considering that Zoë Conway is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s best fiddlers, few others could inspire such a gathering of composers. There is a connection between their playing which adds a real vitality and poignancy to these tunes.
There is a wonderful variety of melodies and moods, something for everyone, really. One of the highlights must be Máirtín O’Connor’s Trip to Gort which joyfully evokes the Brazilian rhythms of the many South Americans who have, however unlikely, made that Galway town their home. This is 21st century modern Ireland and it sounds more than great, it sounds alive and well.
There is a temptation for music reviewers to praise some albums simply because the form may not be very commercial, whatever the actual quality of the album. This is not one of those reviews. This album takes a great leap of faith and soars with confidence and passion. It effortlessly carries the considerable weight of tradition along with engaging explorations into newer avenues of influence that have informed Irish music ever since Johnny Moynihan brought back that bouzouki from the Balkans.
Buy it. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Learn it. Pass the tunes on.
Conor O’Hara

LUGCD, 10 Tracks, 53 Minutes
Oirialla is a four–piece group, with Nuala Kennedy on flute and vocals, Martin Quinn on accordion and Gilles le Bigot, originally from Brittany, on guitar. Mastermind is Gerry Fiddle O’Connor, who has this venture in parallel with his solo career.
Right from the start, an unusual version of the Mason’s Apron, there’s a lovely sense of relaxed companionship. Here be no shapes a-throwing. The best feature is the way the various instruments are combined and blended to give contrast and variety. And they’re invariably spot–on with rhythmic changes. The overall feel is of trust and joy in music making. I’d say this is at least in part due to the fact that all four had a say in the production, a rare case of democracy in music proving a success.
Gerry is very proud of the cultural heritage of his own part of Ireland. It’s known in our times as Border country, but the roots go right back to the Bronze age and before, and nearby Omeath was the last Irish-speaking area on the east coast. The dialect was quite like that on the Isle of Man. And there’s a strong link to Scotland not just in the Strathspeys, but Nuala has a fine song in Scots Gaighlig, which gives a great sense of completeness.
So you have a fine collection here, appears short, but that is deceptive, the music steals your time away and it will reward multiple hearings to get a full handle on all its intricacies. Easy listening, but for all the best reasons.
John Brophy

Still Live
MOGG4 10 Tracks, 35 Minutes

Simple songs, simple arrangements, simple performance that add up to a simply terrific album. Fitzgerald is a living proof of the adage that less is more but only if the artiste has the talent. This collection of ten tracks, mostly from his own pen, is a wonderful showcase of a writing as well as a performing talent.
From the opening track The New Roads of England he will have you entranced. These are story songs of a high order recounting mostly everyday things to great effect. The Ballad of Capel Street will stir memories of people not just from that area of Dublin but of any urban area where the ordinary people live full if sometimes less than exuberant lives. His Dublin roots show through on many of the tracks. None more so than on The Black Dodder Flowing. Once again it possibly helps if you are Dub listening to the track but I feel that it is not a prerequisite, so do not let it put you off. The song is beautifully descriptive and the listener will oh so easily picture the river as they listen.
Similarly, When We Left School will awaken memories good and bad for people of a certain generation. But it is not all about the stories of general urban life. He also produces a lovely tale of lost love on New Year’s Day.
The closing song shows his down to earth humour as well as a knowledge of the sometimes sad reality of the troubadour in our modern age. Have a close listen to The Last of the Iron Arsed Pub Balladeers before you decide to set of on a life of music in the folk genre.
Fitzgerald is a talent to watch and I look forward to hearing him live or on CD in the future.
Nicky Rossiter

Another April Day
16 Tracks, 50 Minutes
Own Label MTMCD0001
Marie-Thérèse McCartin hails from Leitrim and is an academic and music teacher, best–known in the border counties for setting up her Cavan Academy of Music some years ago. She is also an ex–member of Anúna. Another April Day is her first album focuses mostly on her piano playing.
The menu consists of instrumental arrangements of familiar Irish airs and contemporary songs like Brendan Graham’s You Raise Me Up, which has now attained standard status and one vocal track. Musically the ghosts of Phil Coulter and the late Noel Kelehan inhabit this project, with its cinematic arrangements and the lush piano work drawn from the gene pool that inspired Coulter’s Tranquility series.
This is music we have become accustomed to arranged and produced by Frank McNamara, generally wistful in mood with the occasional welcome surprise as in the dramatic setting of Oro Se do Bheatha ‘Bhaile where the National Symphony Orchestra of Radio Moldova set a mood akin to Laurie Johnston’s theme from The Avengers in the 60s.
The presence of only one vocal track a lyrical evocation of Spring in Another Day in April to me is way to modest, her Anuna past would merit extra vocal tracks and she is very well able to carry songs off with a graceful balance.
Another April Day is a successful slice of easy on the ear Celticisim that should satisfy taste buds more attuned to a sophisticated vision of Irish music.
John O’Regan

Back to Work?
Own Label, 15 Tracks, 47 Minutes
Colm O’Brien has issues. Not his own ones though; he has issues with the current socio-economic climate for the working class Irishman and the plight of the Irish Diaspora, especially in the US. Why am I telling you this? It’s because he articulates these issues with a passion in his latest release Back To Work?.
The Boston based Irishman makes full use of his gravelly Dublin lilt whilst giving his own slant on traditional favourites like Belfast Mill and Jackie Hall and then pushes the boundary of passion on his own compositions that push forth his strong views of the plight of the little man. Take The Ballad of Little John, for instance that expounds the hardship of ‘having a mortgage to pay and six mouths to feed, how am I to see to what my family needs’ and where he sings against the Corporation’s greed. The execution is in the song but it’s the passion in the voice that ignites the flame. This flame burns brightly in his spoken word as he brings life to the pervasive imagery described in Vinnie Caprani’s powerfully versed Beginnings.
The term passion is used extensively in this review and it’s because the album has passion in abundance. It sounds at home in both the watering holes of Boston where the catchy melodic airs will ensure rhythmic foot tapping and also when attentively listening at home to the stark lyricism and its expressive delivery.
Whichever way you decide to play Back to Work? you are guaranteed an entertaining listen.
Eileen McCabe

Own Label DM001, 12 Tracks, 40 Minutes
I was lucky enough to be at the London launch for this debut CD. Damien and Donogh played a storming selection of tracks, including Master Crowley’s, 1st June, The Game Changer and Siobhán’s Waltz.
London box player, Damien moved to Dingle a couple of years ago, and his collaboration with producer Donogh Hennessy has resulted in a really classy recording. Damien’s style is tight and rhythmic, lending itself to Munster dance music, but he also has the soul and control for slower pieces. His playing reminds me of Conor Keane, Christy Leahy, even Jackie Daly. There’s a lot going on in his left hand too, which is nice to hear: imaginative chords and bass runs on the accordion complement the sensitive guitar from Donogh and a handful of other accompanists. It’s nice to see Zoe Conway’s name among the guests here. Keyboards, strings, banjo, drum and bass add to Damien’s performance, but the button box is always in the driving seat.
Damien has a great choice of material. The P&O Polka, The Trip to Dingle and Tom Barret’s combine the best of new and old polkas in a single set. The Melodeon Driver sees him switch to the single–row box for a pair of powerful jigs ending with Leslie’s March, which seems to have shaken off its Chieftains associations. Bunker Hill features a rather lavish introduction to a tune I know as The Traveller, but settles down for the eponymous reel. There’s no lack of variety on 13, with marches, hornpipes, and even a slide/waltz/reel medley, which works perfectly. Damien is a bit of a tunesmith too, writing four of the pieces here, including two very different waltzes. Indeed there are no fewer than four waltzes in total on this CD, but that’s just to balance the drive and energy of the faster tracks. Damien throws in a stunning slow air too, making the most of the often neglected buttons on his pump hand, with a gorgeous vocal arrangement by Pauline Scanlon. This really is a very polished album. From Feehan’s Jig to the final Cajun waltz, 13 is full of innovation and great music, and more than likely to make my 2012 Top Ten.
Alex Monaghan

10 Tracks, 54 Minutes
Easy on the Ear Records 2012 EOTR3

I’ve first a across Jamie Smith at the Aosta Celtica Festival in Italy in 2005, where his band were playing festival music, good of course, designed to get folks on their feet and have a good time. Now seven years on, he’s taken all those European festival experiences and created something more grown up, more challenging but equally danceable, equally invigorating.
The opening track is a revelation. I thought for a moment I had one of the big name Irish bands on the CD, a blistering Donal Lunny style bouzouki intro with whistles coming onboard and washes of expressive chords driving it all forward. Then three beats on the bodhrán and the accordion takes up the main tune. It is called Huzzah by the way. Compared to his previous work Windblown has more light and shade, more space for the other musicians to build, weave and juggle with the tunes. The tunes are big enough to allow all that. At over seven minutes Tunnags is a showcase for Smith’s Accordion (a Pietro Mario, the same box as played by Alan Kelly). Tunnags has a Breton/Scandinavian sound to it, echoes of Roger Talroth meets Dan Ar Bras, the slow air section is especially appealing, worth learning on its own.The Gordano Ranter is a duel between fiddle and accordion with a closely woven drum back beat which segues in an almost Arabic slant on a Breton Andro.
There are four songs on this album. Summer’s Lament a folk rock number, chirpy and not as maudlin as the title would suggest. A bucolic Lady of the woods, a contemporary take on Yes We Sing Now with a touch of Fairport in its big delivery. The show stopping song is the Welsh language Carum Pum Merch, opening with a slow almost acoustic fiddle it builds, falls, rises, crescendos, dips and builds again, this is accomplished writing with an emotionally charged centre. The album finishes on Whiskey Burp Reels, at eight minutes long it is back to their old festival pleasing habits, bouncing, rousing, sweat, explosive Celtic music. It breaks part way through for a bass riff that is ripe for sampling and moves into harmonic slow fiddle over a pulsing drum and bass beat, closing on fast and furious finger work on the accordion.
Exhausting, you’ll be shaken and stirred by Windblown.
Seán Laffey