Releases > Releases August 2020

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Blue White Gold
Vertical Records, 12 Tracks, 46 minutes &
A chance meeting at a session in 2009 brought fiddler Rune Tonsgaard, Nordic cittern player Ale Carr, and pianist and accordion master Nikolaj Busk together. Now, after ten years together and known as Dreamers’ Circus, they have released their fifth album Blue White Gold, a collection of highly creative tunes based in their Scandinavian folk tradition woven with other genre influences.
The first time you listen to their music, you will notice how their arrangements bring the melody strongly upfront pulling you along with it. The other instruments support and enhance weaving in and out of the musical story they are telling. Masters at helping you feel the tale of the tune as they play, you will hear whales sing, march up the aisle with the bride, find yourself laughing at the baby’s bubbles, and reaching for a partner to dance in your kitchen.
While their emphasis is on folk tradition, you will definitely hear the influence of their classical work with many international orchestras, and it works beautifully as in Bubbles in Central Park. Rune’s fiddling can be strong and expressive when heading the melody or quietly incessant as a drone supporting the lead of the piano. Nikolaj’s keyboards are magical, and like the fiddle, tell the story with great feeling whether strong as a grand or whimsical as a child’s play piano. Ale’s cittern brings a unique sound to the mix that creates great listening interest. Add in some incredibly creative percussive effects, and you have many levels of listening pleasure on this album.
Each of the twelve themed cuts bring you a special experience ranging from a love story, facing the troubles and angst of our world today, a pantomime theatre, to a leisurely afternoon stroll. Blue White Gold is a special collection highlighting the exceptional creativity of these Denmark based musicians.
Maryann McTeague Keifer

Own Label, 16 Tracks, 63 Minutes
Forgiveness is Richard Mulligan’s second album in the space of twelve months and like his first CD, I Never Met You, this recording reflects Richard’s deep country roots.
Richard had a turbulent start in life when he spent his first three years in Sean Ros Convent in Roscrea while his mother was kept isolated in another part of the convent. It was a cruel experience for mother and child in what was the Ireland of the early 1960s. Richard was lucky to be fostered by a loving family and many years later to find his birth mother. Richard’s early life experience could easily have left him bitter and accusing, but he chose the forgiveness road to sustain him - as well as running and music.
The title track on Forgiveness is dedicated to Richard’s birth mother and the bridge of the song clearly illustrates Richard’s forgiving nature:

And the bible says, do to others
What you wish them to do to you
Forgiveness is what you must do
Forgive them, for they know not what they do
Seems my whole life - I’ve been forgiving who knows who

There are six brand-new songs on this 16-track CD; five of them penned by Richard. The song This Old Farm is dedicated to John and Mary Mulligan, the couple who fostered and later adopted him. It’s a beauty that will resonate with anyone who has ever been involved in haymaking down on the farm.
Momma baking apple pie and Daddy would throw us up so high
My brother John and I - high up on the hay

There’s a lively, foot-tapping song called Dance Around The Floor and more country flavour in two more of Richard’s originals; I’m Country and Pick-Up Trucks. The song Terry also an original lyric, tells a harrowing and graphic story of alcohol and heroin addiction. Other well-chosen tracks include a lovely rendering of My Donegal Shore and Be Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine, as well as a longer-than-usual with an extra verse version of Immigrant Eyes – a song Richard dedicates to Irish immigrants in America, the place where he spent four years on an athletics scholarship at Providence College, Rhode Island. Richard’s lifelong love affair with the songs of Elvis Presley is also evident on this album, with Good Luck Charm and Judy included.
This is a strong follow-up album from Richard Mulligan and the CD is available on most music platforms, including Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. The 16-track Album represents good value and contains some great new material.
Frank Greally

Own Label, 7 Tracks, 23 Minutes
Beoga hit the stratosphere when they collaborated with Ed Sheeran on his original song Galway Girl, consequently clocking up 1 billion hits on Spotify alone. Yes 1 billon, think about it, one in seven people on the planet have heard of Beoga. They are now rightly hot property and their orbit is taking in stars from other galaxies of music.
This mini album of 7 tracks sees Beoga teaming up with Foy Vance, Lissie, Ryan McMullan, Niall McCabe, Devin Dawson & Stephanie Rainey. American singer Lissie (Elisabeth Corrin Maurus) gives us In A Rocket, a song about escaping our current situation. That was released as a single before Carousel came perfectly capturing the freedom we all craved during lockdown.
This album is a seismic development for Beoga, they have become more pop oriented, more mainstream, with an eye to America and day time radio. Carousel marks a subtle shift in the band’s emphasis yet retains their extremely high standards of musicianship and production. Collaboration is the key; perhaps the opening track writes its manifesto with a message in Ryan McMullan’s performance of Make A Mark, its message, be yourself.
Beoga team up with Foy Vance for We’re Blood opening with an Irish flourish on the accordion; this is contemporary Belfast acoustic pop, complete with big choruses. Devin Dawson’s Matthew’s Daughter is a love song inside a power ballad with the fiddle paving the way for Dawson’s opening lines. The final track Homebird is a collaboration with Clare Island singer Niall McCabe. This is Irish contemporary pop at its finest. Having refined and redefined themselves, Beoga are set to do the same for Hiberno-pop. Take a ride on the Carousel; it’s a modern Irish Merry-go round and who would ever want it to stop?
Seán Laffey

Own Label, 13 Tracks, 51 Minutes
I’ve admired Rosie Hodgson’s voice since I first heard her at the 2014 launch of CrossHarbour’s album in the heart of London Irish culture. Philippe Barnes, a Limerick graduate, provided guitar and flute/whistle in that band too, accompanying Rosie’s English and Irish ballads. Rowan Piggott burst upon the London scene more recently, as both singer and fiddler, having absorbed the tradition from his father Charlie in County Clare before venturing into more eclectic sessions and ensembles across the narrow sea. This trio has it all, including vocal harmonies from the lads and a spot of double bass from Rowan, but they still enlisted Charlie Piggott’s button box on the final track, as well as his old De Danann buddy Ringo McDonagh and youngster Evan Carson on the trusty Irish frame drum.
This debut recording scraped under the closing shutters of lockdown, so the tour is postponed and the summer festival gigs are at risk, but you can still enjoy the trio’s bright new music and fresh interpretations of old songs here. The Wilderness Yet also has a penchant for mix and match: take an Eric Bogle song and pair it with the ancient Irish air Port na bPúcai, borrow the melody from a Swedish love song for a new apocalyptic ballad, or put a Hopkins poem into three part harmony for a title track worthy of the Voice Squad. Instrumentally these three are strong enough to present newly composed jigs and reels, polskas and airs on flute and fiddle, whistle and well-picked guitar. The final Seán Ó Duibhir a’Ghleanna combines all these talents into a medley of song and set dance for a jaunty finish to a delightful album.
Alex Monaghan

Port Bàn
Marram Music MARCD06, 12 Tracks, 43 Minutes
This recording is a delightful musical tour of the Western Isles and the coast of Gaelic Scotland in the company of Maggie MacInnes, singer and harp player. The title of her CD, Port Bàn, has the double meaning of Fair Port or Fair Tune and is the name of the little bay beside Maggie’s family house on the Isle of Barra. Incidentally, there’s a photo of Maggie on the front cover where we could well think we were seeing Fiona Brucesuch is the likeness. But enough already…
Port Bàn is an album of high production values and comes with all the elements beloved of reviewers and radio music presenters. There are twelve songs altogether, two in English and the rest in Gàidhlig all with the song words and translations. The song notes are very helpful indeed, and details on the performers in each case are supplied.
Maggie’s mother was Flora MacNeil, a singer from Barra, an island noted for its songs and singers. In the 1950s, Flora was recorded by the American song collector Alan Lomax, and later again by the scholar and folklorist, Hamish Henderson. Maggie learned all the songs on the recording from her mother to whom she dedicates the album.
Among the accompanying instrumentalists are Maggie’s two sons, Calum and Ruaraidh Alasdair Park, and with their fellow musicians and Maggie’s harp playing, enhance the vocal performances with their arrangements. Two Scottish Gàidhlig songs we learned in school in Ireland are Hó ró m’iníon donn bhóidheach and Bheir mi ó, both learned in Irish Gaelic versions. So, I was pleased to find Maggie has the Barra version of the latter on Port Bàn. She accompanies herself on the clàrsach, and notes the song is known world-wide as The Eriskay Love Lilt.
Good CD notes not only inform us, they can also teach us a thing or two, and one example on Port Bàn is what we’re told about Robert Burns’ song, The Bonnie Lass of Albany. “This song tells of Charlotte Stuart, the daughter of Charles Edward Stuart and his mistress Clementina Walkinshaw.” And we’re also told, “Burns shows his sympathy for her and the forlorn Stuart claim to the British throne.” I’d say not a lot of people know that.
Aidan O’Hara

Continuous Line
Own Label, 15 Tracks, 48 Minutes
The Blissett family from Australia perform as String Loaded, steeped in Celtic music, with a penchant for big Scottish tunes and Irish bar room ballads. It could be a mish-mash, it could be derivative, but it isn’t, this album is far from any bar-room Celtic clone. This has chutzpah, it has variety, both in the repertoire and within each tune. Take All for Me Grog, a drinking song that String Loaded invest with a rhythm and pace that will surprise you. Then there’s Cock of the North/100 Pipers/Bony Dundee and Alisdair Fraser’s Highland Cathedral, those Scottish roots showing up plainly.
One track away and we are in the Appalachian mountains with the instrumental Virginia Darling, fiddle and mandolin in syncopation, classic string band fare and very, very, well done.
Their version of the Beatles’ Blackbird is a jazz string quartet, an instrumental with pizzicato underscore. Ray Blissett is the vocal find of the album, a mature folk voice, he sings with passion and authority. The ladies in the band, daughters Gabi and Livi and their mother Jennifer take full control of the Parting Glass; it’s a new A-Capella approach, not as legato as we have become accustomed to.
Their version of Carolan’s Draught is both laconic and lyrical, a test of the band’s ingenuity, which they pass with flying colours. There are other examples of the musicality and daring here, O’Keefe’s Slide/ The Congress Reel and Cooley’ Reel for example.
String Loaded are a band that have absorbed much of the traditions of the Northern Hemisphere and are making it their own down under.
Seán Laffey

Own label, 12 Tracks, 56 Minutes
Xavier Boderiou is one of the most recognized Breton pipers, known as far away as Scotland, his reputation partly based on his success in bagpipe competitions. Far from confining himself to Breton music, however, and following in the footsteps of great Breton musicians such as Alan Stivell or Dan Ar Braz, he has long sought to establish a musical bridge between the music of the different Celtic countries.
Four years ago he released the album Morenn with the flautist Sylvain Barou and the excellent guitarist Jacques Pellen, unfortunately recently deceased. In 2020 he is back with Sylvain Barou and guitarist Antoine Lahay; fittingly Jacques Pellen is present on three tracks.
The result of these encounters is the superb album Liamm, which means link, or connection in the Breton language. A subtle interweaving between instruments, sounds and harmonics, but also between Breton, Irish and Scottish music.
An album of twelve tracks including many compositions by Xavier himself. The magnificent Lament for A10, piobaireachd composed on the A10 motorway. His Gemini’s Strathspeys, T.A.Y.T. which makes fun of French TV or Kernivinen Plinn, an exhilarating Breton dance. And then the song Prizon Pontaniou performed by Paul Salaun, as well as Café Filtre composed by A. Lahay and the many traditional tunes from Brittany, Ireland and Scotland.
Xavier, who plays bagpipes he made himself, is assisted by Sylvain Barou on flute, duduk, biniou and Bansuri flute as well as by Antoine Lahay on guitars, the numerous instruments weaving a marvellous musical encounter that allows three virtuosos to give freedom to their talent.
And if I add that the whole is served in a superb jacket with original photos, it’s a true touch of the sublime.
Philippe Cousin

So Ends This Day
Own Label, 9 Tracks, 41 Minutes
So Ends This Day is the new collection of music from Éilís Kennedy. Made up of nine songs bringing us across oceans and connecting us with those whalers who have gone on the adventure and the families who remained faithful. The torment of the seas and the torment of the hearts waiting on the return are all entwined in this wonderful maritime spliced music.
From its onset with When I Sleep, we feel a connection with those separated from loved ones by the strong bond of the sea. This is very much a letter to a loved one in the hope that they are indeed ‘homeward bound’. As the song/letter progresses we are made to feel the loneliness and the longing that is felt by those waiting at home. The music just flows like the waves.
And this feeling of connection with the waters of the world continues. We are travelling the waves with those very whalers as we listen. Petticoat Whalers tells the story of a wife who travelled the sea and gives insight into the fear and reality that exists on the high seas. Again the music takes us across the waves. It’s a combination of Kennedy’s haunting voice and the musical accompaniment that allows such intense feeling by the listener.
Éilís wrote five of these nine songs making her mark very rightly as a songwriter and one with deep humane exploration. One cannot help but think of Synge and his work as we listen to this music and the tales of the seafarers and their loved ones. It’s tender at every turn.
It’s very much humane as we discover reading the album sleeve that this is dedicated to Kennedy’s sister Neasa. It just cements that humane touch this album has from beginning to end.
Gerry O’Beirne as producer was very much involved with this album. The CD is available in Claddagh Records, Dublin, Custy’s Traditional Music Shop Ennis, Dingle Record Shop, and John Benny’s Pub Dingle as well as online from and Bandcamp.
Grainne McCool

Our Bright Night
KM02, 11 Tracks, 41 Minutes
Our Bright Night follows up on Kirsty Merryn’s debut album She & I, as she continues to make waves on the folk and singer-songwriter circuits in the UK. Her piano is the featured instrument, her lyrics concerned with quest, conquest, relationships and nature.
As a lyricist, her language is unusually arcane, strong rhyming schemes with medieval plot twists. There are maidens, and bonny horses, a milk white mare and dappled grey, false lovers and dramatic waves, all compelling, unique settings for the modern day.
Her version of The Banks of Sweet Primroses sets the tone, delightful singing and piano playing. The title track Our Bright Night has a gather-all-ye round mood; almost biblical the message, the accompanying drone not a distraction, repetition effective, the theme of disparity universal, ‘those who have and those who have not’, a lament that is well sung, the syntax unusual.
Outlandish Knight uses the language of an ancient ballad, a story song, where the emboldened male preys upon a compliant ‘maiden’, convincing her to leave her father’s house, (shades of raggle-taggle gypsies), to ‘ride together all the night, until we reach the sea’. The fair maiden is being led to her death in a place where ‘six I’ve drowned here, the seventh you will be’. But the narrative gets upturned when the maiden fair overwhelms her captor and escapes by removing her ‘gown’. It’s a great big song, the sea featured in the accompaniment with dramatic crashing waves.
The Wake in comparison is a gentle prayerful song, ‘don’t be afraid…don’t be ashamed, I’ll be there anon’, the penultimate, leading into the final track Dawn, piano solo, her sign off and signature sound nicely wrapping up, in her authentically different, modern and old-fashioned all in one, an album of lyrics quaint and charming, musicality robust.
Anne Marie Kennedy

The Spectrum Project
Rumford Records RUMCD04, 10 Tracks
Scottish fiddler Marie Fielding came into the studio with a simple and very bold plan. Play, no rehearsal, no trial runs, capture something as it is, play for and in the moment. And what an amazing job she’s done on this ten-track album.
She gives us a guide note on the CD cover. Spectrum, she says is “a sequence or range of qualities, ideas or entities” and there is certainly a wide range of music on this engaging album. The title track runs at some three minutes and its main melodic theme is reprised in the final track. Spectrum is a moody, almost sombre slow air, a deep pool of emotional depth that anchors the whole album. Other tracks are more upbeat, but they are never raucous for raucous sake. Marie’s fiddle playing is light, sensitive, with a respect for tone and timbre, making the most of the most expressive instruments in folk music. Her choice of instruments includes five stringed and Hardanger violins.
Joined by Tom Orr on piano on five of the tracks, they have an uncanny organic musical understanding. Marie, a frequent visitor to Dingle, is joined here by Corca Dhuibhne resident Donogh Hennessy on guitar for Gracie’s Lullaby; one for the top drawer and a tune that deserves to live out in the wider session world. Bratforts I Brunt is truly Nordic with Marie playing this on the Hardanger, whereas her Connemara Reel has a hint of a Scottish accent weaving in the weft of an Irish melody. On Captain Mac Duff’s the piano takes the lead, the fiddle stepping carefully into the tune, long notes ending in little baroque rivulets. Her Aran Islands track reminded me of the Bothy Band’s Maids of Mitchelstown, like expectant joy found in the dark clouds preceding a welcome rain shower. Marie is at her most strident on Muriel’s Oatcakes; backed by Luc D McNally on guitar, it’s a driving set of jigs opening with Cli Donnellon’s, inhabiting the lowest notes on the fiddle dynamically shifting its focus to a lighter register on the closing jig Muriel’s Oatcakes.
The liner notes are something special, their brevity, clarity and insights into The Spectrum Project are a pure delight.
Seán Laffey

Acoustic Pub Crawl II
Live in Hamburg – Unplugged
INDIGO CD 196072, 16 Tracks, 60 Minutes
The band Fiddler’s Green was formed at the beginning of the 1990s and comes from Germany, more precisely from Franconia, in Northern part of Bavaria. Their adventure began in the kitchen of a student’s apartment when a few musicians got together to play music with an inimitable sound, a kind of folk rock mixed with punk, with a very strong Irish influence, which sometimes reminds us of the Pogues. They call their style of music “irish speedfolk”. From the very beginning, their energy was palpable and they met an almost immediate success.
Some thirty years later, with fifteen studio and five live albums, they offer us their music in an unplugged version on Acoustic Pub Crawl II - Live in Hamburg which follows a first acoustic live recording released in 2012.
While the studio albums deliver a lively and rhythmic music, the live version perfectly restores all the energy they deploy during their concerts, even if for once the electric instruments have been put away. Put the CD on, sit in your armchair with a glass of Guinness in your hand and you’re transported to the heart of a pub, waving in the rhythm of their over-charged music.
In sixteen titles we find some of the tracks that have been with them over their 30 years of existence. Let’s quote in bulk A Night In Dublin, The Wind That Shakes The Barley or The Star Of The County Down. I’m not sure if you’ll recognize these standards of the Irish tradition, as they have been put through the mill, with Fiddler’s Green turning the dial up to 100 on most of them. They call their music Irish Sopped folk, and this album is a high revving engine.
The six musicians of the band let themselves loose as usual and the listener will have a hard time staying in their seat as the power delivered by their music induces a very lively atmosphere. Energy in its purest form.
Philippe Cousin

Seasons of Change
TCCD2001, 11 Tracks, 54 Minutes
The front cover of the album shows a familiar urban space, a shopping street shuttered and empty, who knew when that cover was chosen that shutters would soon have come down on life around the world.
Tom Kitching’s album is modern English music played on the fiddle and mandolin. It’s as if the teenage graffiti-tagging grandchildren of Ashley Hutchings have been left to scribble with the family scrap album. For example his Belt Driven is a 21st century homage to the heyday of folk rock some fifty years ago.
What Kitching has achieved is more than a fresh lick of paint over some time worn Morris tunes. It is a re-imagining and a reinvigoration of a musical milieu. Joined by Marit Fält, on the Nordic mandola, the accompaniment is often metallic and high pitched, perfectly in keeping with the vivacity and attack that Kitching brings to tunes such as Greensleeves Morris, Old Molly Oxford and Lamaload /Bean Setting.
Kitching’s project took many months to complete; he travelled around England playing and busking in places like that shuttered market street, playing these fresh takes on old but often unknown melodies. A modern peripatetic dancing master bringing melodies to silent places. When it came to recoding he went to a dissenter Chapel in Danebridge, the perfect spot for a new testament of English music. In his grandfather’s day Swarbrick and Carthy blew the cobwebs off the genteel tradition of Cecil Sharpe and Maud Karpeles. Kitching’s album is very much in that vein; his tunes have the power to lift the shutters on English music for his and any other generation.
Seán Laffey

PJ Hernon & Sons
Own Label, 15 Tracks, 49 Minutes
I have a 1978 LP recording of P. J. Hernon and his brother, Marcus, and while I don’t know how much recording P. J. did after that, his sons tell us they had a helluva time getting him to do this new recording, PJ Hernon & Sons. The sons in question, Domhnall, Séamus and Eoin, state that they “used every trick in the book to get him into the studio – guilt trips, threats and discussions about mortality and legacy”. Eventually they succeeded and the happy results show right from the start with a pulsating set of reels followed by two jigs and then two hornpipes, the first of which is called The Wonder, so I wondered if it was because of its unusual structure and altogether appealing melodiousness it is so called.
Award-winning box player P.J. was born into a traditional music family in Carna, Conamara, and his mother, Nora, was a main source of his and his siblings’ music. There were many music sessions, known locally as ‘the times’, the same term used by the descendants of the Waterford, Kilkenny, and Wexford descendants in Newfoundland where I had the pleasure of recording and filming in the 1970s. P.J. is ably backed by his sons Séamus (flute), Eoin (banjo), and Domhnall (fiddle) who provide us with a magnificent rendition of the plaintive slow air, Johnnie Seoighe, nicely enhanced by a droning bass-like accompaniment.
I would have liked some information on that air and indeed more background information on the other tunes and how P.J. and his boys came by them. However, about one of the tracks we’re told that #14 is particularly important to them: “The first tune, The Farewell Hornpipe, was composed in 1998 by Sean McCusker, who passed it on to P.J. in 1999 just before he died. Conor’s Trip to Sligo and Hitchin’ to Michigan are original compositions by Séamus Hernon and dedicated to his newly born nephew Conor.” The dance tunes are just as they should be and delightfully so – made for dancing.
Aidan O’Hara

The Best of You (Single)
Own Label, 1 Track, 4 Minutes
Saskia Griffiths-Moore has released a tantalising single, Best of You, from her forthcoming album Are You Listening?, due end of July. The multi-award winning singer and composer addresses in first person the universal pain of loss, hurt, grieving. The voice in her poem reaches out, almost conversationally, to a parent perhaps, a friend, a lover, the song a source of comfort, solace, an evocation to the addressee to rise above the trouble, the lyricist’s message an empathetic balm: I will wait until the time is right, and I pray that you see the light that I see in you.
The poetic words and lead line repetitions are ethereal in delivery, beautifully cascading notes, vocally exuberant, tender and touching, the piano gently percussive, a delightful arrangement.
The great range of her voice so richly invested in the song, shades of Janis Ian, where lyrics are allowed breathe, note perfect, beguiling. Her new album Are You Listening? will be released on July 31st, on CD, vinyl, and all streaming services. Saskia will be releasing the album in a socially distanced way this August with private concerts for people who need care.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Own Label, 14 Tracks, 50 Minutes
I happened to read Limerick-born & Dingle-based Caroline Keane’s album notes before I got to listen to her CD. As a total nerd for liner notes, I was delighted to find Caroline’s so informative, open-hearted, and well written in how she describes her lovely complex links to the tunes: learning The Apple Blossom reel at a Niall Vallely master-class during her MA studies at UL, drawn to its beautiful musicality, but also it’s quirky side; how she describes the intrinsic energy in The Roscommon Reel. I had a strong sense that her music would hold the bright emotional complexity of her words.
I wasn’t wrong. Caroline’s concertina music is crystal clear in tone, melodically appealing, while opening itself up to the emotive potential in the snugs and crevices of traditional music. Shine reflects Caroline’s influences from Limerick to Longford via some great musical detours around the mountainy bits of Sliabh Luachra’s Cork/Kerry border area, and international stage experience with acclaimed band Four Winds.
Slides to start including Charming Lovely Nancy, warm natural exuberance and innate passion but also gratitude for music, backed up by virtuosic ability and a musical assurance across her play that’s somehow freeing for both listener and performer. Subtle compelling back-up from terrific musical cohorts on cello, guitar, fiddle, uilleann pipes, piano & bodhrán. Sleamhnán Lios Póil is steeped in Caroline’s sense of belonging to the Dingle Peninsula community; Caroline found the tune browsing through a book on West Kerry music by Brendan Begley & Niamh Ní Bhaoill. I can’t stop playing Paddy from Portlaw/The Old Flail/While the Cat’s Away, ease, grace & dexterity that show-case the sweetness in her music; the latter her own composition fitting so well beside Vincent Broderick’s tune; Caroline’s wry funny back-story to the name which you’ll find in the liner notes when you buy the CD! Brilliant barn dance / reel set to finish on a brightly accomplished album.
Deirdre Cronin