Releases > Releases July 2020

Want to see earlier releases? Visit the archive.

An Ownerless Corner Of Earth
2 CDs, 26 Tracks
This is a CD that I’d happily take with me to a Desert Island and I think the music, song, poetry and stories that Francy Devine delicately weaves on this gorgeous album would sustain me there for many a day and night.
An Ownerless Corner Of Earth is only Francy Devine’s second CD; a double album that brings sheer delight to the listener with every track played. The accompanying booklet is also packed with plenty of interesting information on all the tracks. This CD was a few years in the making and the time was very well spent in delivering what is a work of great and lasting beauty. The technical grasp and meticulous management of things by Steve Byrne and Richie Werner is evident in every aspect of the recording, mixing and mastering.
There is no obvious theme to the songs other than that they reflect Francy Devine’s interest in Irish and Scots songs, class struggle, and songs that evoke memory. Francy has chosen well and he inhabits every poem, song and story on the double album. Two of Francy’s own compositions are included, with three poems to which Paul Anderson, Aoife and John Kelly and Liam O’Connor have added beautifully sympathetic tunes.
My own favourite tracks from this lovely collection include: the poem that tells the story of-When Abdul Moneim Khalifa Met Darach Ó Catháin - a beautifully spoken word track with tender touches by Liam O’Connor on viola and fiddle; Gazing at Lochnagar is another spoken word poem of magical quality that includes a hauntingly beautiful fiddle tune played by Paul Anderson. Other favourites include: One Starry Night, a song that Liam Weldon collected from Travellers in Ballyfermot in Dublin; The Lowlands Of Holland, Where Oh Where Is Our James Connolly, The Hound Of Granemore and When The Snows Of Winter Fall.
Francy’s motive for recording this CD was to create a family heirloom. He definitely has created a lasting legacy here and the collective contribution of all involved in the recording and production is to be applauded. The CD cover picture is from an original photograph of a Mountain Hare by Steve Rennie. It’s a beauty – one to add to your CD collection.
Frank Greally

The Reed That Bends in The Storm
UOSR007, 12 Tracks, 66 Minutes
Three musicians, who at this stage of their careers, need no introduction. For a quarter of a century they’ve been at the top of their game and on the strength of this album they are still in pole position.
They met on the set of Transatlantic Sessions in 2007 and have played together on and off ever since. Their previous album The Wishing Tree came out two years ago, their 2020 iteration is certainly worth the wait.
Jenny Wren a new tune from McCusker makes for an unhurried start to the album with flute and fiddle in unison, the fiddle taking the reins of The Santiago (another McCusker composition), they meld into Lad O’Byrne’s and finish with The Madison Square, is credited to McCusker and McGoldrick. McCusker swaps his fiddle for an accordion on The Factory Girl sung by John Doyle. Today we might miss the radical message that a handloom weaver could embrace an industrial sweetheart, but Doyle imbues the song with so much feeling that we know there’s more to the story than a chance early morning meeting.
John Doyle sings Napoleon Bonaparte to the air of the set dance The Princess Royal, here given some surprising twists. A selection of three original tunes from Mike McGoldrick, Bluebell Fields/Dolder Grand and Reel in Vienna greet us on track 8, a duet starter on guitar and low whistles and builds to an enriched climax as the pace shifts into overdrive as it closes with Donald Shaw’s The Jura Wedding Reel.
John Doyle’s song I Never Let You Know is a cautionary tale about talking to each other, with its four-line chorus of the repeated regretful phrase I Never Let You Know. More songs from Doyle, Al O’Donnell’s Maid on the Mountain and the traditional cross-dressing seafaring ballad Willy Taylor.
The album folds its pages down so softly with an atmospheric Taimse im Chodladh, McGoldrick’s pipes sending goose bumps down the back of my neck, echoing his hero Liam Ó Flynn. There is always so much expectation when you hear of a new album by this trio and so much reward when you get to hear the finished recording. Fresh tunes, new songs, old standards, tasteful, poised, polished and perfect.
Seán Laffey

Big Beat Music BBM005, 13 Tracks, 55 Minutes
A big album, a big sound and an even bigger ensemble, this album is dedicated to the memory of that much loved giant of the Irish music scene Gavin Ralston, who was for a time the bass player with the group. Now to call them simply a group or a band is selling them short. A Celtic magnificent seven is at the epicentre of the album, those seven members are augmented and expanded by over fifteen guest musicians, creating a sinuous often serpentine and always exciting soundscape. I don’t have the space to list all the players, but the mere mention of Robbie Harris (percussion and production), Éamonn de Barra (flute), Gary O’Brien (guitar), Éamonn Galldubh (uilleann pipes), Aoife Kelly and Eoghan Ó Ceannabhain, attest to the highest quality of performances here.
Musically this is a hybrid of Irish and Indian influences, traditional Irish tunes adorned with a percussive parkour, populated by the sub-continent’s sophisticated classical drumming from Koushik Chendra Shekar. Road to Errogie opens with a lilted Tabla heralding a highly tongued-trilled whistle, the melody expanding over a thrumming bass line until that Tabla riff reappears as a vocal chant.
Man of Aran, adds a Kila-esque rap to the mid-section of the piece from M.C. Muipéad. Crossing the Rhine a set dance, jangly and jumpy with the pipes creating an ethereal call to prayer as the music shifts the action east towards the Ganges. Séamusin an old DeDannan standard is given the Jiggy makeover, eminently danceable and extended beyond the verses with lively lilting from Eoghan Ó Ceannabhain. Aoife Kelly’s is the emotional voice of the band, pleading and plaintive on Friday’s Child and utterly convincing in the paired to the bone Paddy’s Lamentation.
Jiggy are best served live and would be a shoe in for any one of those huge summer Celtic festivals on the continent. Play Hypernova loud at your next family sundown barbecue, it’s a sizzler.
Seán Laffey

Uilleann Piping from County Waterford
Ace and Deuce of Piping Volume 4
NPUCD023, 14 Tracks, 57 Minutes
Listen to this solo recording by Caoimhín Ó Fearghail on concert pitch pipes and you’ll quickly see why he was 2012 recipient of the TG4 Young Musician of the Year award (Gradam Ceoil TG4). It is also evidence of why it was chosen by Na Píobairí Uilleann to be The Ace and Deuce of Piping Volume 4. One of his early teachers was Bobby Gardiner who said of musicians like Caoimhín that “these dedicated young players are now playing with an ease and maturity far beyond their years”.
Caoimhín plays many instruments including tin whistle, flute and guitar and quickly progressed to the uilleann pipes under the tutelage of David Power mostly. His influences include Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Tommy Reck and Patsy Touhey. Caoimhín is from An Rinn (Ring) in Co. Waterford and has a keen interest in the songs of Na Déise and their airs. This interest is reflected in the choice of material on the CD which includes a number of airs and pieces of dance music associated with Caoimhín’s native place.
There’s a generous offering of fourteen tracks on the CD, eleven dance tunes and three airs. The CD notes supplied by Caoimhín are most helpful, and tell us where he got his tunes and what the music means to him. An Rinn gave us the great singer, Nioclás Tóibín, and so it is no surprise to read what he says of Air/Hornpipe: Cáit Ní Dhuibhir / The Stack of Wheat: “I was drawn to this song after hearing a recording of Nioclás Tóibín singing it. I have not heard it sung much these days. I thought The Stack of Wheat fitted nicely after, having obvious similarities.”
All the tunes but one are traditional, and Caoimhín’s treatment of them is a skilful rendition of the art of piping that serves as an example for practitioners seeking to attain a level of competence that might help to place them in the ranks of the masters.
Aidan O’Hara

Spanish Point
Own Label, 8 Tracks, 35 Minutes
Spanish Point is the debut tin whistle album from Dublin born Kevin Meehan. Aptly titled, this collection of 8 tunes is very much rooted in both Ireland and Scotland. Many of the tunes have been inspired by locations of great traditional music importance. And on listening to the music it just transports you to those very places.
Starting off with Spanish Point we are immediately drawn to the Co. Clare Sea through the music and this is a theme, which I felt continued throughout. There is a hint of the waves flowing as the music played on all tunes. One feels carried away with this exquisite collaboration of sound. Meehan transports us between Ireland and Scotland and allows us to remain very much on our home turf wanting to tap the feet on tracks such as Nusas Wedding and Inches From Dublin. There’s a tune for a ruin in Sutherland Scotland called Borve Castle, surely a template for a song melody.
Even when we reach mid-way of this CD with The Living Bridge the selection of tunes and the music allows us to feel as though we really are on that living bridge going across. The weaving of sound and technical excellence allows for a real-life escape. Maybe it’s the combination of guitar (acoustic and electric bass), together with some 18 collaborators who bring the trombone, fiddle, piano, bodhrán, trumpet, uilleann pipes, upright bass and drums, to this album alongside the tin whistle, that allows us to feel such. It’s a masterful combination of instruments at every turn. Mention must be made of the Bflat Reel, the lowest off the shelf whistle is seldom heard in recordings and Meehan explores every depth of its deep personality in this track.
Whether it’s a dance you require, or a relaxing listen, you will find it all here under the tin whistle brilliance of Kevin Meehan; entwined with the vast array of other instruments and musicians throughout. You won’t be disappointed. The tin whistle transports us and really does allow us to feel ‘together apart’ in this strange and unprecedented time. Meehan has released his debut tin whistle collection at the very right time to delight music fans with its traditional and contemporary sound from beginning to end. Available as both CD and digital album.
Grainne McCool

Time to Fly
Head East Records HER01Cd, 11 Tracks, 47 Minutes
Two of the founders of Scottish folk-rock band Rura have produced this album of their own compositions, sixteen tunes split across eleven tracks, featuring flute and fiddle with backing on guitar, bass and drums. The gentle Marioni’s was inspired by one of the stranger characters from fiddler Jack’s home town of Cullen, while the title tune expresses some of the drive and urgency these two felt for releasing their duo sound on the world. Flute and fiddle are almost inseparable at times, flying indeed, and there’s an almost Scandinavian purity to the melody lines as a result. There are echoes of Rura on some tracks, especially when James Lindsay’s bass, John Lowrie’s drums and Jenn Butterworth’s guitar kick in, but there’s almost no overlap in material and even the piping vibe of Strings Attached or The Lockhouse is distinct from the rapid-fire Rura sound. Much of Time to Fly is considerably gentler: the relaxing Drift, the soulful So Long Lefty, the more optimistic Graeme & Carly’s.
This album is a real mix of tempos. The swaggering polka Alex Thyberg of Järvsö will get you on your feet, the dreamy 7/8 Roshambo will sit you down again. Littlejohn gets the toes tapping, the knees knocking, the feet stamping and the hands clapping as it builds to a climax. The hypnotic Coruscate is well named, swirling and sparkling, sliding away but always coming back. The final pair of reels edges more towards an Elephant Sessions sound, sparse and modern, with a solid but sensitive back line and a relentless duet on Mick Foley’s Hacksaw (long story) before David cuts loose on his End of the Empire to be joined by Jack in two octaves. Time to Fly is impressive, expansive, a broad sweep of creativity from Smedley and Foley who are definitely a pair to watch in future.
Alex Monaghan

Rain Dance – Compositions Arranged for Solo Guitar
Exchequer Music, 11 Tracks, 66 Minutes
At last year’s Milwaukee Irish Fest the whispers among the musicians mentioned one name; Shane Hennessy. The must-see performer, the man who could get Grant Wood’s American Gothic couple laughing and dancing. Hennessy’s guitar playing was almost unbelievable, even amongst those who knew their way around the instrument.
Rain Dance is Shane’s third studio album and will cement his reputation as one of the finest guitarists to come out of this hemisphere this century, yes Carlow might claim him, but talent like this belongs to the world. No need for whispers any more, you can shout that to all and sundry.
In many ways this is a difficult album to review, Hennessy’s musical mind is a kaleidoscope, translating to the guitar as multiple rhythms, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, runs, arpeggios and harmonics. Often within a single passage of a tune. They may have single titles but the music within them is dynamic, their themes and tensions flexible, virile, versatile and sinuous, there is nothing static or predictable about any of them. Rain Dance the title track, seems inspired by the Soukous kora tradition of West Africa, with its repeated walking motifs that Hennessy works around harmonic pulses. Momentum lives up to its name, with running finger style patterns and a bosa-nova groove as the piece succumbs to a Latin jazz patina. The nearest we get to traditional Irish is track 9 Travelling Tune. I can see its theme being simplified and ending up in a session in a year’s time. Track 11 is the bonus track; called Jumbo it’s a jazz swing tour de force.
The guitar has probably been the most influential instrument of the past 100 years, and in the hands of maestros like Shane Hennessy its true potential as the ultimate portable orchestra is brought to life. If you are a guitarist this is one for your collection, perhaps not to emulate, but certainly to inspire. With just 6 strings and 19 or so frets Hennessy’s Rain Dance is amazing music from any angle.
Seán Laffey

Path of Stones
Compass Records, 10 Tracks, 55 Minutes
As a Grammy-nominated founder member of Solas; a leading force in guitar, composition, and song, Dublin native US-based John Doyle has an astonishing track record across the most notable collaborations in traditional music including Liz Carroll, Karan Casey, and many more.
Across the decades, the texture of John’s journey in music, while undercut with the drive and pulsating force of his radically inventive guitar, is also crucially overlaid with an acute and beautiful musical sensitivity.
All evident in The Path of Stones. Musicians include Cathy Jordan, Mike McGoldrick, Duncan Wickel, Rick Epping, and John McCusker.
John composed most of it, six songs, four instrumentals. In the jaunty lyrics on The Rambler from Clare (linked to the 1798 rebellion), John re-imagined that melody, the culmination lyrical, fresh, uplifting. His voice is melodically appealing, but what stands out too in John’s distinctive singing style is the simplicity and grace with which he inhabits his own voice; gentle authentic assurance. Vocal subtlety matched with how sensitively he handles themes like the oft’ opposing dynamics and complexities of love, loss, history, exile, adventure.
On the title track, John is the impressively solo performer: vocals, harmonium, six & twelve-string-guitar, harmonies. In the rhythmic meditative ‘path’ through the song, echoes of John’s strong family connections in Sligo, aspects of love weaving through landscape; a pleasingly oblique mystery to the words. Virtuosic Elevenses with Mike McGoldrick is both multi-layered and uncluttered. Later, luxuriating tempo on The Coolaney Reel set with its drawn-out exquisitely sweet sound. Cathy Jordan and John do great vocal justice to Teelin Harbour’s tense fast-paced story of fishermen in danger.
On Her Long Hair Flowing Down, John literally ‘pans for gold’ by wrapping a sky-wide story of fortune-seeking around a most melodically beautiful love song. And at the (irresistible) risk of over-egging the imagery, liquid gold overall in the sonic meld of fiddle, cello, vocals, 6 & 12-string-guitar, mandola, harmonium, flute, bodhrán, bouzouki. In short a great CD.
Deirdre Cronin

Blue Élan Records, 11 Tracks, 45 Minutes
Lisa Lambe was a leading performer with Celtic Woman, in that time she also recorded in Nashville and has been fêted by none other than the Irish Times.
Juniper her latest album, produced by the Frames’ Karl Odlum, is a work of aural poetry. Recorded in one room at Attica Studios in County Donegal, I’d go so far to say that that tight space is very much in evidence here. Juniper feels intimate, as if we are sharing Lisa’s candid secrets. North Star Rise is a tender introduction to the album, Lisa’s vocals, gently rocky on the refrain: ‘Let It Shine’, clear and assured on the verses, a hint of country and a touch folk in her phrasing.
Someone Like You is lit by a slow fuse, burning into a mid-section where her vocals take on a pop character, the backing musicians moving the piece into an easy listening groove as Lisa brings the track to a close by the repeated phrase ‘A search for someone like you.’
Holding Back the Tide is a percolated country brew, a fiddle in the distance mirrors the emotion in Lisa’s question ‘Why are we Hiding?’ Again she uses the pop device of the repeated phrase “She is holding” allowing the musicians reign to weave a damask of sounds around Lisa’s singing. Tiny Devotions is chirpy, held together by a piano track; it preceded the album by a season, having been released as a single and video in January.
Juniper’s title track paints a picture of a northern winter landscape, a bleak bog, a forgotten deserted boreen, a lonely situation well beyond the Wild Atlantic Way, elemental, weather carved. Ancient beauty, under a wind blown sky, the song softly sinks into a quiet moment as if the wind has stopped to take a breath, the whole track ending on a ghostly chorus of pure sound.
Juniper confirms Lisa Lambe as a major Irish voice, a stylish songwriter with an ability to create a contemporary Celtic sound that is original and enduring.
Seán Laffey

MVD Audio DM1014, 12 Tracks, 53 Minutes
French-Algerian virtuoso Pierre Bensusan is one of a handful of world-class guitarists who have truly made DADGAD tuning their own. Initially adopting it in his teens, he has developed his early Celtic-tinged style from a diverse amalgam of influences from Larry Carlton and Pat Metheny to John Renbourn and Bert Jansch via Jimi Hendrix, and made something uniquely his own. For this album he has made a conscious effort to concentrate on the synergies of nature, and the title represents the continuum of music as a reflection of this.
While many of the tracks are solo guitar, he adds to the sonic palette by vocalising in parts, mainly scat singing, and also collaborating with other musicians, notably Jean-Marie Ecay who also co-produced, and plays nylon-string guitar in contrast to Bensusan’s steel-string on the jazz-tinged Balkangeles. Another remarkable piece is Dia Libre with Stéphane Kerecki on double bass and Christophe Cravero on alto and fiddle. Fils de la Rose features some subtle double bass to augment its neo-classical style, with some delicate (uncredited) fiddle touches.
But he really shines on the solo pieces, where he can create an entire sonic landscape using the “Old Lady”, a guitar made for him by George Lowden in 1978. The title track has a mystical and enchanting opening before it modulates into a more expansive set of themes, all based around a simple motif which runs through the piece. Without You is a relaxed and airy jazz-tinged expedition with beautiful chord voicings, and attractive vocalisation.
Return to Ireland is a nod to his strong Hibernian connections with a dash of Carolan-tinged melody thrown in. Corps Vaudou features French lyrics written by his wife Doatea (to whom he dedicates the album), and the closing track Manitowoc features gorgeous melodies with a technically stunning use of natural harmonics.
Mark Lysaght

Own Label, 12 Tracks, 67 Minutes
Piano maestro Ryan Molloy has won the admiration of Irish music aficionados for quite some time and this album verifies why this is so. The opening track sets the tone with a hauntingly beautiful version of The Wounded Huzaar. Track 2 transports the listener to Greenfields a contemporary piece penned by Kieran Munnelly. He bounces on to a very traditional sounding set of jigs played with a highly articulated, crisp melodic line filled with musical richness, oozing with his unique personal style which can only be characterised as something truly special. It blends a myriad of ingredients into its sonic landscape - elegance, brightness, richness of texture, style and panache. There’s a wide array of colours as is illustrated on the cover - Molloy invites us the listeners on a journey into his magical musical mind and uncovers layer upon layer of musical heaven. Each time I listen I hear something new. Molloy is also an excellent traditional fiddler giving him yet another perspective on the tunes he plays. There are some old favourites here including hornpipe Poll Ha’panney performed with a playful, polyphonic palate. He performs a selection of newly composed reels he wrote for his three boys and there’s a set of popular reels pairing The Broken Pledge with Dinny O’Brien’s reels set in unusual keys.
There’s a deep sense of respect for the tradition and the melodies he plays, whilst still allowing lots of freedom for him to colour in the space in the most creative and imaginative ways. Special guest Shauna Mullin joins on vocals. Her voice exudes depth, passion and maturity. Ballads such as The Heathery Hills and The Mountain Streams are exquisitely performed with a stellar vocal richly enhanced by the sublime accompaniment on piano. As Kevin Crawford notes in the liner notes, “I’ve no idea where he got his box of crayons but the colours he plays with ain’t from the same box the rest of us have that’s for sure!” Highly recommended.
Edel McLaughlin

Strath Records 003CD, 9 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Once again there’s huge satisfaction in finding a new recording that belongs to that music and Gaelic fraternity where performers from Scotland and Ireland revel in their common cultural heritage and provide us with such delights as we have here in Mhairi Hall’s Airs CD. And, responding to what’s on the label, so to speak, Mhairi starts off with an air entitled, A Peak Apart, one of three compositions of hers on the album. It may have been inspired by the fact that she was brought up in Aviemore, which lies in the heart of the central Highlands of Scotland, where there are many majestic peaks and bens. She is one of her country’s most creative pianists and this first track amply illustrates her talents as soloist and composer.
Mhairi has created what’s described as “an album of ambient slow airs played on the Steinway piano wrapped in sounds from the landscape, warm drones and old archive recordings”. She and Scottish contemporary landscape artist Beth Robertson Fiddes spent time together in Argyll imbibing the mystery and magic of the historic land of the Gael and are taking their joint creation on tour this year. There is a pleasing fusion of the traditional and contemporary in Airs that together evoke the beauty and heritage found in Gaelic music and song, and nicely exemplified in her dreamy Lullaby for Eilidh.
There’s another remarkable piece of fusion in the song Luinneag MhicLeòid that was written by 17th-century poet and nurse Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh. Folklorist Alan Bruford recorded Rev William Matheson singing it in 1965, and through the appliance of double-tracking, Mhairi takes the original recording and constructs an altogether appealing accompaniment around it. I found it very moving.
Mhairi ends her recording with a wistful and imaginative instrumental rendition of The Parting Glass, a song and melody that is used very often as a farewell. “Shortly after I recorded this album,” writes Mhairi, “renowned Irish pianist Micheál Ó Súilleabháin died. I was lucky to have been taught by him for a year. We shared a love of slow airs and both wanted to record an album, he with Irish airs, and I with Scottish. This one’s for you a Mhicheál chòir.”
Aidan O’ Hara

Barra Taoide
Cearc Records CEARC001, 10 Tracks. 32 Minutes
Instagram @delaneymacaulaymusic
Donegal meets Kerry on Barra Taoide. This is the debut album from the talented duo of Nicole Delaney on flute, whistle & concertina coupled with the guitar & bouzouki skills of Kyle Macaulay. The duo crossed paths at the Music Department of UCC, and have been making music together ever since. There’s a youthful, energetic drive that permeates this recording, a natural flow and hunger for the music and it’s quite a balanced mix of the traditional repertoire & style as well as some innovative tunes and arrangements thrown in for good measure.
The opening track sets the tone with an energetic set of jigs driving into The Torn Jacket an apt choice of reel from the pen of Connie O’Connell, a musician who has a long legacy of affiliation with UCC. The March of the Kings of Laois begins with an impressive rendition of the tune on solo guitar, building up to great effect. Sliabh Luachra is well represented in the slides which are performed with a stylish panache. The Wee Plank a composition of special guest Hamish Napier exudes fun and energy straight from the intro. There’s lots of musical treats here from chromaticism to modulation and jazzy chords, this chilled track allows space to showcase the flute’s range and technical skill.
Versatile Nicole switches to concertina with a set of punchy polkas. Strings are used to good effect on a couple of tracks adding a more contemporary feel to these selections & there is some really captivating whistle playing to be heard. The Tunnel Tiger, a newly composed tune penned by Kyle is a catchy tune for the contemporary ear. The final selection is a set of reels including Black Pat’s a composition of Tommy Peoples. There’s something here for everyone; a very enjoyable mix of the old and new. Recorded and mixed by Kyle Macaulay at Cearc Records, this debut album comes highly recommended.
Edel McLaughlin

Idir Dubh agus Bán
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
Solo piano albums are conspicuous by their absence in the field of Irish Traditional Music. The opening track sets the tone with sparkling motifs between the bass and melody lines, leading seamlessly into a bright selection of jigs. A crisp, clear melody line sings out the tunes supported with an unfaltering bass line. In the reels, there is a strong sense of traditional style shining through, notably with a solid rhythmic drive & distinctive triplets performed with ease. A set of marches follow showcasing some double octaves and impressive technical skill.
A number of different traditional pianists are cited as references for the source of the repertoire and having had a musical influence on Millane’s playing style, particularly during her time spent studying music at the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick. Her style is very much rooted in the traditional vein, but she explores her range, inversions and a wide variety of chordal progressions to great effect. Her slow pieces are especially impressive from a beautifully captivating rendition The Mountains of Pomeroy, to an equally impressive instrumental version of Bruach na Carráige Báine both learned from the singing of Séamus Begley. There’s a good mix of lesser known tunes and well known tunes here, many of which may appear in a different key, something which adds a fresh lease of life to the music. Percussion is added on bodhrán from Danny Collins and snare drum from Felix Morgenstein. Recorded on piano at Jack Talty’s studio in Co. Clare, this is a very musical recording indeed.
To conclude, in Idir Dubh agus Bán Millane explores a myriad of musical colours and soundscapes in her debut recording - a fine collection of tunes tastefully arranged to a very high standard & polished to reflect a mature level of musicianship. A welcome debut recording, this album is a must for all traditional music lovers.
Edel McLaughlin

Reflections of a Celtic Heart
Down Da Road DRP192, 16 Tracks, 67 Minutes
German born, Sina Theil comes newly and excitedly into the traditional Irish genre. She takes the well-known Irish ballads, those that have earned their keep at every gig and session, mixes them in with the contemporary, an original, sporting anthems, folk songs and Glen Hansard’s Falling Slowly. The CD is rounded up with a choir collaboration and a rousing gospel-country song, fitting for the now, ‘One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from you…’
Songs and music provide solace, much loved ones like Grace, Caledonia and the Parting Glass, songs that are an integral part of the fabric of traditional and Irish folk material. Sina Theil’s versions are injected with vibrancy, musical nuance in diction and phrasing, refreshing, delicately delivered. Juxtaposed with her rocked up Fields of Athenry showcasing her versatility. Red is the Rose is compelling, marrying the Scottish and Irish version with Loch Lomand tagged on acapella, an enchanting ending.
This recording is a tribute to Liam Clancy’s legacy, fitting then that The Dutchman stands out, insightfully sung with whispery sweet vocals, a heartfelt, passionate rendition and beautifully layered arrangements. Aine Fingleton’s whistle lends lovely haunting accompaniment to the Green Fields of France. James Darcy’s lead guitar is stellar throughout, on box Ronnie Kennedy’s melodic interpretation of Davie Furey’s Good to Be Back Home works very well. Billy Condon’s fiddle and Colm Kenny on vocals both enrich Ralph McTell’s timeless classic Streets of London.
With innovative artistry in cover design and sleeve notes, manager Mike Gleeson is gratefully acknowledged. Recorded at Golden Egg Studios, Portlaoise, Reflections on a Celtic Heart was produced by Brian O’Mahoney. With this record and her other work, Sina Theil will easily earn her keep within the Irish tradition.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Antoni O’Breskey
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 55 Minutes
Samara is the new album by composer and pianist Antoni O’Breskey. Antonio Breschi is an outstanding Italian instrumentalist whose love affair with Irish music goes back 40 years - and also explains the name change! His musical path has visited other genres like flamenco, Basque and jazz and can be traced over his 2 dozen or so album releases (including collaboration with Ronnie Drew!).
Some of Antoni’s long time musical partners are present on this recording, along with a newer generation. Participants include Joe McHugh (uilleann pipes & whistles), Máirtín O’Connor and his daughters Ciara and Sinead (fiddles), Consuelo Nerea Breschi (vocals), Tony Byrne (guitar), Paddy Cummins, Leonora Lyne and several Italian players.
The album can be broken into 3 component parts; New compositions, such as Samara, Estonia, Kevin’s Polka and Xi’an Reel; Re-workings - a new version of Drunken Spider (given added power by the inclusion of triple fiddles), remixed versions of Nomadic Aura and Sue Morley’s Jig and a live version of Dancing Leaves (originally recorded on his award winning album Ode to Ireland) and Traditional songs newly arranged: Derry So Fair, Wee Weaver, and The Longford Weaver.
The music on show here is absolutely wonderful. Fans of the late Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin will find much to admire, especially Dancing Leaves, with subtle percussion, and the preceding polka which has a lovely flute embellishment. Arrangements are outstanding, and there is plenty of room for other instruments to shine. The title track at over 7 minutes duration is multi-faceted and has delightful interplay between O’Breskey and Mairtin O’Connor before cello and banjo chip in.
The 3 vocals are all strong performances and I can see this release winning many new fans for O’Breskey. Superb recording!
Fergal Woods