Releases > Releases July 2019

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Brendan Mulholland, Conor Lamb, Deirdre Galway
BCD01, 11 Tracks, 46 Minutes
All three musicians involved in this album have amazing pedigrees and are players of the highest calibre, so it’s no surprise that they elected to combine their prodigious talents as a trio, a format that allows both a flexibility and fluidity, which is less achievable with larger line-ups.
Conor and Deirdre are both members of Réalta, while Conor and Brendan have been playing together for over 20 years. The results are spectacular, these musicians are inspired by the great traditional bands of the 1970s (especially Planxty and the Bothy Band), and Conor acknowledges the major influence of the late Liam Óg O’Flynn on his development as a piper. Brendan’s flute playing is superbly married with the pipes; here are two musicians who are very much aware that the whole can be so much greater than the sum of its parts. Deirdre Galway’s DADGAD accompaniment on guitar takes the legacy of other players and adds some wonderful rhythmic touches, particularly evident on jigs.
The three are augmented on several tracks, with Neil Martin guesting on cello, as well as the addition of percussion and keyboards at times. But it’s the tight playing of the core trio that catches the ear, from the opening set The Sweetheart and also especially on the endearingly titled The Sister’s Cat, and The Three Sisters. In between there is a gorgeous waltz The Wounded Hussar with some beautiful cello underpinning the melody; it also features on a lovely reading of the Lament for Limerick with piano accompaniment by Christine Galway. The Lark in the Morning played as a pipes-flute duet is another highlight, and it’s nice to hear Deirdre playing some tasty melody on the guitar on The Antrim Barndances. This is a very enjoyable CD, which entertains throughout, and showcases some top-class playing by all involved.
Mark Lysaght

Paving and Crigging
Own Label, 14 Tracks, 71 Minutes
Old tunes, earthy playing, flat keys, this is a real feast of raw traditional music on pipes, fiddle and guitar. When I saw the name, I had a dreadful vision of a spoon-players compilation, but no, not a percussive instrument to be found here. Instead, Rattle the Knee provide a mighty helping of venerable reels, jigs, airs and more, with a brace of songs from guitarist Jimmy Murphy. The instrumentals are powerful on a set of Geoff Wooff pipes in B, the flattest of pipe keys, and Kira Ott’s fiddle tuned down to match. Patrick D’Arcy found the group’s name in a Séamus Ennis story, but it would also fit tales of Patsy Touhey’s skeleton piping: the material on Paving and Crigging is mostly drawn from Ennis, Doherty, Clancy, Reck, and more recent maestros such as Keenan, O’Flynn, O’Brien-Moran and Mulligan. Although D’Arcy is Dublin born, he picked up the pipes in Southern California and plies his trade there with this trio.
Tunes like Cucanandy and Na Ceannabháin Bhána underline the connection between piping and song emphasised by Ennis. The low key suits song melodies, and Rattle the Knee add expressive modality to tunes such as The Bunch of Green Rushes and a wonderful flattened version of Banish Misfortune. The pipes and fiddle complement each other, not too tight to tease apart, but perfectly attuned and sounding in unison. Murphy’s accompaniment is well placed and sensitive: his vocals on Pride of Pimlico and the huge Paddy Tunney version of Green Fields of Canada are strong and gravelly, making Paving and Crigging a memorable phrase indeed. Fiddle and pipe solos are scattered through this album, a slow air each and little cameos on other tracks, but it’s the overall sound, which impresses most. Rattle the Knee offers a rare treat for trad fans, and a fresh experience for any lover of Irish music.
Alex Monaghan

Songs from Ireland
Own Label, 13 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Singer Gráinne Hunt and classical guitarist Brendan Walsh first met when both were studying music in NUI Maynooth. While Gráinne has remained in Ireland, Brendan relocated to Switzerland some years ago. This album was conceived and planned at long-distance as the pair exchanged ideas for a CD containing classic Irish songs delivered in a new and refreshing way. Recording was then completed in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The songs are very familiar and included are some of the most well-known Irish favourites. The chosen canvas is also very precise, just voice and classical guitar used throughout, with no detectable overdubs. There is an intimacy and warmth to the arrangements, borne of careful study of each piece. Brendan is a wonderful guitarist, and he infuses each track with his impeccable taste and virtuosity. Gráinne eschews the traditional nuances so often used on such recordings, and provides brilliantly personal interpretations. The results are engaging and quite spectacular at times.
Key to the album is the exploration of sparseness and space – by using only voice and guitar, the pair can explore each song fully in terms of dynamics, light and shade. Highlights include beautiful readings of Raglan Road and Thom Moore’s The Cavan Girl. Innovation abounds, exemplified by wonderfully syncopated versions of As I Roved Out and Wild Mountain Thyme. The emphasis is on delivering each version in a fresh and unexpected way, and even though many listeners will be very familiar with the material, the interpretations are very fluid and varied, full of surprises and hidden twists. By the nature of the arrangements, the material on the CD can be faithfully performed live, and the duo has already completed a series of gigs in Ireland and Switzerland. The album definitely works well and is full of inspiration. This is highly recommended listening for all lovers of Irish songs.
Mark Lysaght

The Lonesome Hours of Winter
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 42 Minutes
I’ve been following this fascinating musical project on YouTube for some time now. Brian Miller and Randy Gosa play bouzouki and octave mandolin and sing some forgotten folk songs. I am delighted that with the funding from a Kick-starter campaign they have now brought their music out on this CD. The album ticks many of my boxes, great singing, inventive interplay on their 8-stringed mandos, and album notes full of careful historical research. Here we have songs from a hidden store of Irish music that was carried by migrant workers to the logging camps of Northern Minnesota in the early 20th century.
The Lost Forty refers to both an oversight and a region of the USA; on the edge of the Canadian border, it was left off 19th century maps. It is a land of lakes and forests, hundreds of workers flocked to the region to exploit its timber. Their camps were dry, no alcohol allowed, a sensible precaution as whiskey and axes are bad companions. Instead the men made their own entertainment, they sang songs from home and played traditional music. In the early 1920s Robert Winslow Gordon, editor of the Adventure magazine received two letters, one from Michael Dean, the other Reuben Philips, both in their late sixties, both veterans of the Lost Forty lumbering camps. Together they sent in over 180 songs for the possible publication in the magazine’s column Old Songs That Men Have Sung.
On this album Miller and Gosa have rediscovered the Philips and Dean collection. Some songs are familiar, To Work Upon The Railroad, Lovel, Van Dieman’s Land, others are more local The Loss of the Lady Elgin, Jerry Go Oil The Car about Larry O’Sullivan and the lumber railroad, The Shanty Man’s Life and The Persian’s Crew about the loss of a Great Lakes sailing ship. If you like your folk songs collected with depth and presented with taste, if you are a fan of Andy Irvine and Daoirí Farrell, this is your secret territory. The Lost Forty is a treasured find.
Seán Laffey

Ghost of You
Own Label No Catalogue Number, 12 Tracks, 43 Minutes
Since her highly regarded debut album in 2015, Megan O’Neill’s style has been described as “Alt-Country”. With her recent recording Ghost of You she demonstrates something else: uniqueness, a modern day female artist grounded in a specific vision, a blissful soundscape, it displays genre-splicing talent handling familiar themes of relationships, love and loss. The lyrics, sometimes subtle, other times heartbreakingly honest and gut punching, always intimate. In fine voice and with well-textured accompaniment she delivers the poetic, inner monologues with verve. There’s intense passion in the lyrics, rhythmic and tuneful.
The title track Ghost of You feels deeply authentic, the lover whose presence caused “the rest of the world”, to fade away, powerful imagery, the heartbroken songwriter’s voice acknowledging through the desperation: “I’d rather be haunted by you,” pathos in lyric and melody, ideal.
Why I Need You has tender vocals, the narration of a healthy relationship, the lover a “ripcord as I’m falling”, the first person narrative voice brings the listener in close. Any Younger is a most memorable track, lyrics extolling regret, impulse, an elopement encouraged: “what are we waiting for, take my hand, walk out the door…” the couple must pay back “borrowed time”, a carpe diem life-lesson; the layering of voices is beguiling. Lost a Love is stylistically different, superb, her voice and the chorale blend a terrific mix, the melody catching, a dance song, a song for radio, the line repetition very effective.
Megan O’Neill’s voice is at times soulful, strong female range and sweet, touches of folk, her Irish roots evident, it has an ethereal, (ghostly?) quality, mellow and bluesy. She is well invested in the material and compelling themes. Acknowledging Graham Jackson for his guidance, Zak Lloyd and her other collaborators, this is a fine showcase album, worthy and full of promise.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Trad 002, 12 Tracks, 48 Minutes
A very pan-European album from Hot Griselda, kicking off with Djupavik – Total Sellout and the uilleann pipes and acoustic guitar race ahead to open the lively, rhythmic set, before the pace shifts somewhat with an electric bridge, before the pipes kick in once more into a punchy tune.
Very much an album made with an emphasis on groove, the pipes are nonetheless integral to interweaving with the funk attached to Hot Griselda’s core sound, like on the frenetic Royal Nord set or the tamer first-half of Black Molly. Rhythmic shifts and harmonic interplay texture throughout the album’s 12 tracks, with uilleann pipers Stijn Van Beek and Toon Van Mierlo providing the main melody across Sunbox.
The aforementioned Black Molly showcases the exceptional bouzouki accompaniment and sensitive playing of Kaspar Laval. Even the gentile of Black Molly gets turned up a notch, with Van Mierlo’s bombard being let loose like a screeching guitar as the energy certainly takes an upward trajectory.
Bordering always between traditional and heavy rock, Hot Griselda’s energy certainly is captured on this fine recording, with other tracks like Shooting Stars making it hard not to imagine their live show a ball of madness and moshing. In the very same way Kíla have rocked audiences for the past three decades, Hot Griselda have no doubt learned from that supergroup, and turned the volume up to number 11 on the amp.
There are some more reflective, meditative pieces, like Correct Me If I’m Wrong and Driving to Ronny’s, the latter exemplifying the low whistle and its charming effect on the listener.
Derek Copley

Half –Witted, Merry & Mad
Steeplejack Music SJCD0022, 12 Tracks, 41 Minutes,
Andrew Cadie is a musician, producer and tutor, originally from Northumberland; he is now based in Germany. This is his labour of love, simply and purely unaccompanied fiddle music from the William Vickers manuscript. Andrew explains that having been a busker, he thought the best way to approach this old collection of tunes was to do it solo. Wise choice as it adds a period theme to the music; in fact it makes the music timeless. William Vickers wrote down the tunes in Newcastle county Durham, between 1770 and 1772, some tunes were already ancient in his own time. The fiddling here is in the lyrical Northumbrian style, such as The Sudden Thought/ Life of Man / Lads of Our Alley. Some tunes with a range of just 9 notes were no doubt shared by small-pipers in the region. Life of Man has a distinctly Irish modal character. Sair Fyel’d Hinny is a sombre vocal about getting old, sung with a haunting echo.
There is a wealth of fine fiddling here; Devil in the Bush/The Hexham Lass wouldn’t be out of place in a Donegal session. The final selection The West Indian/ Sailor’s Delight/ Cellar Door Key are jaunty English tunes.
Cadie writes in the very brief liner notes that there were some 600 tunes in the Vickers Collection, proving firstly what a musical magpie Vickers was, and secondly how musically eclectic Newcastle must have been in 1770. There is undoubtedly even more to be found in the collection. I suspect a fiddler could have a merry old time playing through Vickers’ opus.  The title of the album comes from William Vickers himself, who wrote: “Musicians are half-witted, merry and mad. The same are all those who admire them.” Me culpa!
Seán Laffey

Polyglot Pike
Go Danish GOO518, 11 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Described as contemporary folk music from Scandinavia, Trio Mio are rooted in their homeland’s musical sound, but are a band with its very own captivating style of energetic and elegant folk music.
Their 6th release, Polyglot Pike, captures this sound perfectly and is primarily a collection of ‘voiceless’ music, with the exception of the final track. This is a collection of competent and confident, relaxed, and yet fun music. Consisting mainly of the band’s own compositions, this is certainly one that’s worth a listen. Piano, bouzouki and fiddle dominate the album. There is also guitar, Wurlitzer, flugelbone, and moog synthesiser included. Aside from that final track, the CD is wordless. It might well be that the music speaks its own language. This music is both graceful and relaxing. It’s very much easy listening. Kristine Heebell must surely be noted on this album for her fiddling. It’s hugely impressive from beginning to end.
The tracks on this are bringing new life to old and traditional dance forms. This is most notable in Dieselvail and the jazzy Alliken. The third track is just over one and a half minutes long, Inga Rikedomar, and is a rather unusual one. It begins slowly and quietly and suddenly comes to a rather abrupt end. The title translated, ‘No riches’, just seems fitting.
The fifth track Frihed pa forste sal is more relaxed and takes us on a journey of freedom. The music doesn’t need words and we get caught up in the musical experience. This is true for all these tracks. As we listen to Solstik we experience the sunstroke through the notes.
Polyglot Pike is very much a polished and confident collection of music, which proves that music really is soothing for the soul.
Grainnne McCool

Own Label, 9 Tracks, 38 Minutes
This album is a nice introduction to the very talented duo on guitar and fiddle in its selection of varied tracks combining heartfelt vocals with some spirited instrumental offerings.
They bring us a number of great interpretations of traditional material especially in the “sets” including Lasses Fashion, Killarney Boys of Pleasure and Leslie’s Reel and they weave these beautifully and seamlessly in with newer compositions such as Palmer’s Gate and also the wonderfully titled A Little Bit of Fish for Breakfast from Sabrina’s pen.
Sabrina Palm excels on the beautiful self composed Something is Right About It where her fiddle playing will cause you to cease whatever you are doing to listen carefully. This for me is the outstanding track on the album and I would love to see it getting wider exposure. It brings to mind the iconic Ashoken Farewell. The duo also brings us very good versions of other writers’ works from the older Robert Burns song Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation, which is arranged somewhat differently to what we are used to and makes it into a new song that bears comparison with all other versions over the years. A new song to me was Kris Drever’s Scapa Flow 1919 an excellent retelling of a piece of history.
Heather on the Moor is a traditional piece that gets a very lively airing by Crawford & Palm. I would like to hear more from this duo who seem to have that great knack of picking just the right works from other people to marry to their own compositions. The album has that lovely feel with its melodic tracks but also in bringing us songs with heart and meaning that bear careful listening.
Nicky Rossiter