Releases > Releases June 2021

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Hunger of the Skin
Own Label, 9 Tracks, 51 Minutes
When this recording was completed it held a minute of music for every year Brian Finnegan has been on this earth. If you know Brian’s story and his work you can detect a biography walking alongside the music here. A founder of Flook and a past pupil of the Armagh Pipers Club, we know his albums will be full of complex whirling whistles, mesmerising moments and an uncanny ability to find the groove with other players. There’s more as two strands of Brian’s creative life come to the surface. One is his playing with the Rock band Aquarium in Russia; they’ve produced over a half dozen records, he’s no part timer, and then there’s that Armagh Pipers Club background. The teaching in Armagh is free from the tyranny of competition. Pupils are exposed to the wider visual and vocal arts, music becomes a cog in culture. Hunger of the Skin has rock elements and spoken word pieces, and Brian’s compositions are on canvasses that give the space for words to reach multi-levels of perspective.
There are two dozen musicians here, too many to list, but we must mention Seán Og Graham. His multi-instrumental contribution is massive to tracks which are often 7 minutes long. They do form a pattern; often a whistle intro followed by an exposition of the melody, then a break for the big band to shift tempo and tactics, as a voice begins talking to us. Such is the case with Dust Am Damhsa Dubh, and Flow in the Year of Wu Wei, which is the first single from this album. The track is characterised by a brass section and a spoken word passage, with a Celtic rock finish.
The album winds down beautifully; track 8 Equator Light is a modern slow air, the whistle rising above an electric guitar. It reminds me of a sunrise over a reeded lake, a piece that invites us to meditate on the possibilities of the day ahead. The CD closes with Dare a poem from Morna Finnegan; it’s a welcome for a newborn child, a motherly challenge to avoid the corporate suits and gleaming empty smiles that take away the touch and pain of being human.
Hunger of the Skin is an astonishing piece of work from beginning to end, humane and complicated, replete with the wisdom you get after fifty years on planet earth.
Seán Laffey

Own Label PB001, 10 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Peter Browne, from Dublin, has been playing traditional music on the accordion from an early age, and has played at home and abroad with groups that include Kila and Stockton’s Wing. But he’s interested in all kinds of music including classical and jazz, and even earned a diploma in Jazz Studies at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin in his mid-twenties.
On his new CD Sidewinder Peter has recorded sets of jigs and reels and one set of hornpipes in a mix of strictly trad and original compositions by a virtual Who’s Who of eminent musicians. It’s all woven together to make a seamless and pleasing musical presentation, with Peter’s extraordinary display of virtuosity on the BC accordion very much to the fore all the way through.
Along with banjo player, Dave McNevin, Peter plays at a pulsating pace in a John Carty composition, Seanamhac Tube Station, and neither player misses a trilling triplet throughout, competing with each other neck-and-neck to the finish. Speaking of which, bodhrán player John Joe Kelly doesn’t miss a beat in the many tracks where he has a hand in the action and like the other accompanists is skilled and imaginative throughout.
Peter has ventured outside the purely trad music sphere to play with acts that include the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, jazz and other ethnic and improvised forms of music. Indeed, the last track, a set of reels, ends in a predictable enough manner, but then, after a longish pause, voices and a guitar are heard accompanied by laughter as guitarist Shane McGowan - or is it Peter - extemporises on a Latin motif for his own and the listeners enjoyment. When finished, someone is heard laughing and saying, “I love it!”
It’s worth noting that on his Irish Button Accordion Techniques DVD, Peter Browne “shares his amazing right hand techniques with you. One button triplets, two button triplets, two and three finger triplets, standard cuts, roll and triplet cuts, five note rolls, two button rolls, rhythms, off beats, syncopation, vibrato, scales and exercises and much more.” There’s a lot of it on display in his new Sidewinder CD.
Aidan O’Hara

Warners, 10 Tracks, 45 minutes
Declan O’Rourke has always impressed me due to his remarkable song writing ability, along with an attractive, endearing voice. Having first come to attention in the early 2000s, his songs have been covered by several major artists including Christy Moore and Eddi Reader, and been praised by artists such as Paul Brady (whom O’Rourke acknowledges as a key influence) and Paul Weller, who produced this album.
Recorded over 6 days in the summer of 2018, the focus is on the songs, with voice and guitar at the centre, sparsely accompanied by solo cello, analog keyboards instruments and occasional percussion. String arrangements by Hannah Peel. The vocals are deep and rich, with subtle arpeggios and melodic fills embellishing the basic structure of each song, as a 12-string guitar provides extra depth. The Harbour develops magically, with a string quartet underpinning the heartfelt tale of a local tradesman, reflecting the authenticity of his subject matter. He also draws inspiration from other sources, such as Olympian, which charts the journey of a Syrian refugee to compete at the highest level.
The title track uses piano accompaniment to good effect, telling a story of returning home from abroad, particularly poignant in these pandemic-ridden times, again using strings to embellish the arrangement. In contrast, Andy Sells Coke is a subtle indictment of recreational drug culture where thumping percussion and trippy effects emphasise the futility of this lifestyle. Have You Not Heard The War Is Over feels like a protest song of old, just voice and guitar, reminiscent of 1960s folk anthems.     Convict Ways is a transportation tale (O’Rourke spent much of his childhood in Australia), while Zeus and Apollo is an imagined conversation between two Greek gods. There’s a real depth and diversity to the various themes, and as a closing surprise, This Thing That We Share is a jazzy excursion into speculation on the human condition.
Mark Lysaght

They’re Calling Me Home (With Francesco Turrisi)
Nonesuch 0075597915709, 12 Tracks, 45 Minutes 57 seconds
Rhiannon Giddens is utterly believable; from roots to high opera, she lives in each and every one of the songs on these dozen diverse tracks. She wins song after song by applying the determined measured confidence it deserves. An African American spiritual is afforded the same detailed attention as an operatic number. In other mouths both genres would suffer; how many times has a classically trained singer failed to understand the nuances of folk music? How many times has a folk singer gone beyond their technical perimeters and fallen short? This is never the case with Rhiannon. Taken track by track, each song is a self-contained work of genius.
Consider her own song Avalon, beginning with a rhythm from Niwel Tsumbu that carries the Kinshasa soukous flavours of west Africa, a choking American fiddle joins in, recalling pre-colonial, pre-bluegrass music, then her voice, ethereal, another instrument, building up the layers of sonic colour. She evokes her native North Carolina on the 1920’s song Waterbound, her viola interchanging perfectly with her voice. Black Crow is pure roots; in contrast there are the excursions into European high culture, Monteverdi’s Dolce Tormentino written in 1642, and the Italian lullaby Nenna Nenna, Francesco working his magic here on guitar. More string skills on the instrumental track Bully For You, a bare bones acoustic treatment of an Irish jig. On Niwel Goes to Town, is that Rhiannon’s fretless banjo sounding like an African Kora? Then there are the spiritual songs O’Death and the opening, They’re Calling Me Home, a relatively recent bluegrass song from the pen of Alice Gerrard; it’s sublime in its simplicity. She sings I Shall Overcome, affirming without confrontation, imbuing the anthem with an unwavering dignity, something much needed in 2021.
The final track is Amazing Grace. Rhiannon hums the melody, and a set of uilleann pipes played by Emer Mayock, comes in near the end, a nod to the Celtic roots of the tune. A song without words to close is as powerful as the opener. Rhiannon has the empathy and poignant intelligence to unequivocally inhabit any genre of music, leaving us with a total belief in its power to connect. Listen and be moved.
Seán Laffey

The Wind in the Woods
Own Label, 13 Tracks, 40 Minutes
For many the mandolin is the tin whistle of the string world, a great start that moves players on to bigger instruments, in the mandolin’s case the banjo and bouzouki (guilty as charged Garda!). Consequently there is both a dearth of mandolins on the session scene and few truly virtuoso players making recordings.
Spurred on by a suggestion from banjo player Pat Doheny, Martin Murray bucks this trend, his mandolin and its big siblings are to the fore on The Wind in the Woods. He has handpicked a crew of some of the country’s finest players to join him on the ride: Garry O Briain (mandocello), Tommy Keane (pipes), P.J. King (accordion), Máirtín O’Connor (accordion), Paul Grant, (guitars and bass) and Gay Brazel (guitars, bass and congas).
The Mando Masters Reel, found on cassette recording could be straight from cosmopolitan Biuneos Ares. Whereas the second track links Martin’s octave mandola with Garry’s mandocello in a set of reels The Broken Pledge and the Trip To Nenagh; there’s a powerful lift in the transition between the two, thanks to the pulse of P.J.’s accordion.
Martin lives in Carrick-on-Suir a few miles below Sliabh na mBan, and the slow air of the same name he pairs with Banks of Newfoundland (a region that is musically connected to his next door Deise County). He double tracks a mandolin and octave mandolin with Tommy Keane’s whistle on a set of polkas (Yes the 42 Pound Cheque is in there). The East Tennessee Blues Rag is tastefully teamed with Paul Grant’s Reel of Ballinlaw. He finds time for a contemplative I Will written by the Beatles. There’s a warning in Don’t Touch That Green Linnet, a jig written by Tommy Peoples. Martin adds more traditional credentials with a couple of Bobby Casey classics, before rounding out this collection on Bill Munroe’s The Gold Rush, Martin multi tracking himself on mandolins, fiddle and banjo, for a final lash of Boys of The Lough.
If strings are your thing, this album will pluck every one of yours.
Seán Laffey

Own Label, 13 Tracks, 38 Minutes
Ava is the name Éabha McMahon has adopted for her solo career. You may know her previous work with Anúna and Celtic Woman. Synchronising with the current zeitgeist she says, “I love that music is a universal language, whereby one person’s story can be interpreted by so many, in different ways. Writing for me, has always been a way to acknowledge the human spirit, and hopefully help others to know they are not alone with how they are feeling.”
Allowing the listener to find their own meaning within the lyrics begins with her song titles. Ava supplies simple song names, which carry no polemics or didactics: Rhythm Of Earth, Wildflower, Call My Name, Heartbeats, Seas Suas, When We Dream, In the Quiet, One More Day, You Are Home, Native Call, Tell Me Now, Runaway, Loud. Intriguing titles inviting our intense attention.
Percussion, the most ancient and enduring element of music is all Ava needs to begin Rhythm of Earth, her voice gently tells of the coming morning as the orchestration enlightens the track like a June dawn. Heartbeats again is a gentle production, finger style guitar, keyboards, a harp, all in the background behind Ava’s temperate voice. She’s far livelier on Runaway, the song cantering forward as the keyboards add arpeggios. Loud is the most commercial song here, with its complex layers and a catchy chorus could make this a radio favourite. In fact songs are structured for radio with the average length coming in at 3 minutes. The title track is homage to the wasteland where wildflowers grow. A place of human escape from urban sprawl, it concerns the action of rescuing native flora and transferring it between towns. Like the album itself the re-wilding of our lives goes hand in glove with our ability to improve our mental wellbeing, and that is just what doctors are prescribing in 2021. This just might be the gentle world music album the world is craving for right now.
Seán Laffey

Two For Joy!
Own Label Deas 03, 12 Tracks, 61 Minutes
Desi Wilkinson is not very productive in terms of albums. Apart from five CDs with the band Cran, a recording in 1987 with those who were to go on to found Lá Lugh, Gerry O’Connor and Eithne Ní Uallacháin, another with the Breton band Bleizi Ruz in 1993, and then one album with Buffalo in the Castle in 2012, this year he offers us Two For Joy! his third solo album, the previous one dating back to 2001.
If it took him nineteen years to think about and refine the superb album he offers us today, the result is commensurate with our long wait. For Desi is what we could call the “must” of Irish flute players, as Matt Molloy or Michael McGoldrick and the equivalent of the Breton Jean-Michel Veillon. It must be said that the two friends know and appreciate each other, having played together on more than one occasion, Desi having lived in Brittany for two years in the 90s.
He offers us here more than twenty tunes in twelve tracks. Tunes coming from Ireland of course but also from Brittany since Breton music has left more than traces in Desi’s repertoire. Thus we are entitled to a Suite Plinn, a Suite Gavottes as well as a tune Feunteun ar wazh haleg, on which the Breton Patrick Molard superbly accompanies him on uilleann pipes.
On this album, Desi shows his connection with the raw sound of traditional music, on flutes and whistles in particular and to highlight the fundamental aesthetic values of music and songs. And if Desi is an outstanding flute player, he also has a nice voice, given full reign on John Barbour and False Lover John, a song from Donegal.
Apart from Patrick Molard, Desi is joined by Colm Murphy on bodhrán and Garry O’Briain on mando-cello. The powerful yet subtle instrumental backing they provide allows the tunes and songs to breathe in a way that more intrusive sound backing doesn’t.
The title of the album refers to the rhyme that states that two magpies mean joy.
Desi’s playing is at once light, almost Spartan, and at the same time energetic when the tune requires it. His style is both traditional and very personal. Magpies are known to collect shiny objects, those brave enough to climb a tree and rob their nests might find a lost ring or silver trinket. Be a magpie yourself, this album is a pure jewel from Desi.
Philippe Cousin

Out on the Ocean
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 40 Minutes
When something thrilling was about to happen, children from Dublin city used to shout out in excitement, “Hurray, hurray! We’re off to Bray.” That was Bray, Co. Wicklow by the sea where families flocked to in the summer. Well, Bray’s the home place of uilleann piper Donnacha Doyle for whom the sea holds a special fascination and the sea and fresh water permeate every track on this album.
There’s a wild high-pitched start to the Cliffs of Moher; it’s a positive and confident way to begin the album. That first track is a set of three jigs: The Cliffs of Moher, Ships in Full Sail, and Out on the Ocean. The second track is a set of hornpipes: The Fisher’s Hornpipe and The Sailor’s Hornpipe 1&2. “These are a great set of hornpipes,” Donnacha writes in his CD notes, “and flow very nicely into one another.” And he’s right they do.
The drones are in full flow on the set dance The Three Sea Captains, but he also employs them tastefully and wisely on other sets in this album. Donnacha’s influences include Séamus Ennis and Leo Rowesome; his own playing of the Steampacket reel he attributes to hearing the Johnny Doran version. It comes at the end of a three-tune set, the first played on the chanter only while the full drones and regulators combine on the very expressive Steampacket, the whole effect like a kettle coming to a rolling boil. A lonesome chanter plays throughout the slow air Cape Clear and the following jig The Banks of Lough Gowna, which gradually fades out. The album is free from electronic effect; this is solo piping plain and simple. There’s a live room feel to Bantry Bay, the Banks of the Illen and The Flowing Tide set. Turn up the volume and you are right there beside Donnacha as the music flows out of him.
This past year has been quiet due to Covid-19, but Donnacha put the ‘time off’ to good use by making two full recordings, this one, solo uilleann pipes, the other with a band, Achill SoundOut on the Ocean is an invaluable addition to any piper’s reference collection and a treat for those of us who love the honeyed sound of our native pipes. A companion for all your piping voyages. It can be bought online on all the platforms including Spotify, Amazon and iTunes.
Aidan O’Hara

Amergin Fire
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 37 Minutes
A flame of history blazes through this album, of ten newly composed tracks from Dublin based Ciara McElholm. She’s a fourth generation fiddler, tracing those musical roots back to three brothers who lived in Glenties before the Famine. She’s a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who can work on the grandest of orchestral scales.
Norwegian Breeze and The Song of the Valkyries are inspired by the music and mythic tales of Scandinavia. Our own Viking past is recalled in the Lament for Brian Boru, a rival to the Hiberno-Norse of Limerick and a thorn in the side of their Dublin cousins. Ciara dives into the mythology of Ireland, very much in the Levi-Straus tradition of finding the collective truth in cultural myth. Here she devotes two tracks to our founding legend of Amergin.
Where does this sit musically? Her scoring and arranging fits the ambitious scope of her subject matter. For example The Song of the Valkyries is a major piece of choral writing, with hints of Heaney’s translation of Beowulf in the line:
“Warwinner walketh she weaves in her turn, Swordwielder step forth, now Swiftstroke, now Storm”.
Her Embrace is a well-deserved musical hug; she writes that “it is an embrace through music to many of my friends during the first period of lockdown and a salute to all our healthcare workers who gave of themselves so selflessly.”
Planxty Alice and Will is yet another gift-tune. This planxty was written for her niece whose wedding became a much smaller affair as the pandemic restrictions bit. The longest track is the slow air Atlantic Tides, Ciara exploring the deep lower strings of the fiddle. This is a shoo-in for those players who are fond of Carolan’s repertoire; is Ciara a modern day Turlough?
A poignant choral work closes this album, a re-imagining of the plight of Irish children clutched into Viking Slavery in 10th century Clontarf. It is dedicated “to all children in the world today who continue to be separated from their parents due to war, conflict and dehumanising immigration policies.”
Some critics have likened Ciara’s work to that of Sean O’Riada, and yes she now occupies that same cultural redoubt. Amergin Fire has a sweep and grandeur transcending our listening to another plane altogether.
Seán Laffey

Brigids and Patricias
Own Label, 8 Tracks, 40 Minutes
Edel Meade established a solid reputation on the Irish scene as a jazz-influenced singer over several years, and her debut album Blue Fantasia, released in 2017 was well-received. However, this album reflects an artistic shift into highly individual territory, exploring a range of themes, which combine to highlight the many concerns of women in contemporary Irish society.
All the music is original and deliberately sparse, raw and uncompromising – she examines historical events through her own lens on the opening track Bridget Cleary, which addresses the murder of a woman by her husband in the late 19th century, and also on Ode To Old Noll (with lyrics by Ellen O’Leary), which covers Oliver Cromwell’s brutal assaults on Irish Catholics in 1649.
Long Way To Go lists a catalogue of issues affecting Irish women today, mainly using a spoken voice laden with outrage at the various ways in which society has betrayed, isolated and demonised the vulnerable, using the iconic phrase “I believe her” towards the end, which is very evocative. Natural background sounds and drones are interspersed with the vocals and music to create atmospheric soundscapes, particularly on the wonderful Song Of The Seal – the compositions are musical stories, full of twists and turns, and uncompromisingly individual.
Lady Icarus cleverly uses a classical metaphor for freedom and discovery with a more light-hearted approach, while Kundalini Rising is a reflection on hidden mystical depths attained through focusing energy.
Edel Meade has shown real artistic courage in releasing this collection, a thoughtful and nuanced reflection on some important issues and themes all too familiar to many. All the music and singing on the album is performed by her, making this a true solo effort. As with all the best recordings, repeated listening is required to fully appreciate the true depth and subtlety of the performances.
Mark Lysaght

Clogs & Jigs & Reels … Oh My!
Own Label, 20 Tracks, 60 Minutes
Sometimes we Irish forget that our people before us who emigrated to ‘foreign parts’, not least Canada and the United States, brought with them their feet as well. And the feet of their descendants do today the same things that we see here in Ireland - the old-style dancing that is now so widely regarded and sometimes referred to as sean-nós dancing. And it’s often forgotten that other Western Europeans who emigrated over the centuries to North America had feet as well and did the same sort of thing – what is called in Newfoundland “doin’ a few scuffs”.
I must say that I am impressed with this new CD of Chad Wolfe’s, Clogs & Jigs & Reels … Oh My! It’s really exciting to see this new young generation of dancers doing what the people did before them in the music and the dancing. Indeed, where Chad is from in Ontario the tradition in music, song and dance is stronger than ever. In the 60s, I remember renowned fiddle players like Graham Townsend playing for the maestro himself, Donnie Gilchrist, a major influence in the field of Canadian folk dance. Donnie was a key figure in the promotion of Ottawa Valley step dancing and its recognition as a unique style.
Chad’s CD is organized for dancers to easily navigate through the variety of tempos of clogs, jigs, reels, and medleys. I agree with Kyle Burghout, North American Irish Fiddle Champion, when he says, “My favourite part of the album is the ongoing interplay between fiddle and piano–a signature sound of the Canadian tradition, executed masterfully by Chad Wolfe (fiddle) and Mark Allen (piano).”
Other accompanists are guitarists, Corey Thomas, Ted Chase and on cello is Emma Grant-Zypchen. Xavier Leahy, newest member of the famous Canadian Celtic band, Leahy, contributes both his guitar and accordion skills. I had the pleasure of seeing his family perform in the late 1960s when I was singing in Peterborough, Ontario.
Adding to the delightful performance, dozens of tunes in the various medleys are given intriguing titles like, Toto and Your Little Wolfe TooThe Hearty Tin Man of Ballymote, Munchkin Maids of Castlebar, The Higher Level Scarecrow, and The Reel Twister (the hand of a wizard is at work here). Did I say I was impressed with this CD? I did, and I think you will be, too. Also, this fiddler and teacher of dance is a pretty good hand with his feet and worth checking out online.
Aidan O’Hara

Leaving Nancy
Own Label, 5 Tracks, 19 Minutes
I’d read a description of the EP as ‘country’. She’s immensely popular on that circuit, but on listening it’s more blended, like everything else this young lady does, it just works. Theil makes this sound not anything like the Irish Country I grew up with.
The first track on this EP is Theil’s single, Home is Where the Heart is. Full of energy and vitality, this happy feel-good love song had me singing along. She even mentions my homeland, the hills of Donegal! Then we have the EP cover track Leaving Nancy. Written by Eric Bogle, but given a very new sound from Sina. She makes it her own. Slowing the tempo right down, this track allows us to listen carefully and get caught up with the words. This German born lady is becoming more Irish with each track here. Quickly followed by Bible and a.44. Again very much her own take on the song and keeping the tempo slow. Like I Used to Do is sung by Barry Kirwan featuring Sina Theil and takes us down a traditional country route before rounding the collection off with The Fields of Athenry. This final track features the Newbridge Gospel Choir & The Achill Lads. A completely new version of an exceptionally well-known song, Theil does what she really does do best – she makes it her own. Born in Germany, she grew up in Spain, this young lady has lived in Ireland for a number of years and her music is very much representative of our island. Leaving Nancy is a mix of country, folk and our very own traditional music. Sina Theil is as much Irish with this music as the Irish themselves.
Gráinne McCool

The Harvest Faire
Own Label, 14 Tracks, 56 Minutes
Dallas, Texas based Melanie Gruben is a prolific producer of bardic albums, a regular at Renaissance Fairs and a writer of Faery songs. Here you will find familiar ballads such as Scarborough Faire, Fiddlers’ Green and The Star of the County Down. Some titles might throw you a curve ball. The Jolly Beggarman is not the famous Planxty song of seduction; we’d call this version the Little Beggar in Ireland (the tune is The Red Haired Boy). Melanie’s Star of the County Down is slower, more breathy than expected. She picks up the pace on the verse which begins with ‘As Onward she sped….’ She reprises an old Grehan Sisters’ song White Orange and Green, first recorded in the 1950s. It’s a patriotic Republican song based in the Galtee Mountains, which rise majestically above Tipperary Town.
Melanie provides vocals, guitar, tin whistle, recorder and piano and is joined by Georgio the Fiddler, (violin and bodhrán), Michelle Hedden (bodhrán) and Jennifer Mansfield Peal (accordion). Fiddlers’ Green is one of their faster numbers, based on the Dubliners version; she shifts Johnny Conoly’s trawling from Greenland to Finland and there’s a spirited instrumental section from Jennie Mansfield Peal on the accordion. The Irish Medley of Epic Proportions is a humorous comment on the hackneyed bar room songs such as the Irish Rover, Danny Boy, Whiskey in The Jar and The Rising of the Moon, showing us that Melanie is a seasoned performer who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her own Trowel in One Hand is a tale of pioneer isolation, seafaring romance and parental disapproval. Her Faerie Medley tells of a beautiful woodland temptress who leads young men to their death. A story form that occurs frequently in the Child ballads, on this CD Melanie is adding to the harvest of hallowed song traditions.
Seán Laffey

Jump On Board
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 39 Minutes
Three brothers with a collection of famous ballads, the kind of repertoire you might remember from Temple Bar before Covid. Indeed you might have caught the Biscuits at the Hard Rock Café in the capital’s premier entertainment district. The brothers are Kevin, Tom and Joe Donohoe; Eddie O’Sullivan joins them. They play a variety of instruments; whistles, guitars, mandolin, cajon drum, and a six-string banjo, which features on Down By The Glenside.
The lads do a great job with the tracks such as Dirty Old Town, and their version of The Lonesome Boatman is a tour de force of soulful whistle playing, taking a leaf from Finbar Furey’s original, they know not to mess with a classic. They take a similar no nonsense tack with another Furey classic Red Rose Café (this has a very live feel to it). Their version of Black Is The Colour has an appealing close harmony element, the brothers’ voices blending so naturally. They’ve obviously absorbed their music from some of the leading ballad bands in the business, just check their versions of City of Chicago and Carrickfergus
They are no slouches when it comes to original songs, Fly has a folk pop vibe, a catchy chorus and a whistle interlude, one worth considering if your ballad session needs a fresh lick of songs when the lockdown lifts. The final track The Biscuits Blues is where the harmonica gets its 3 minutes in the limelight; the song is a calling card, asking us to enjoy a night of music with the Biscuits.
The album was recorded in Maidenhead in Berkshire in the UK. The lads are Dublin based and are surely well positioned to belt out ballads once the bars are bubbling again. I’d love to meet up with them for a mega-ballad session, from what I’ve heard here, the fun would be only mighty.
Seán Laffey

Murray & Magill
Own label, 10 Tracks, 36 Minutes
The ever-creative, ever-prolific North Carolina-native violinist/fiddler Andrew Finn Magill joins with Glasgow, Scotland bouzouki and guitar player Alan Murray to produce Magill’s latest, Murray & Magill (November 2020). An in-demand teacher and performer, Murray is best recognized for working alongside well-respected traditional Irish musicians, such as The Four Winds, Eileen Ivers, and Colin Farrell. His frequent pre-COVID touring schedule with Magill culminated into a spectacular recapturing of their live performances.
Available exclusively in digital format via Bandcamp, Murray & Magill offers traditional Irish music fans ten impressive tracks, sheet music of every tune (including chords), and extensive liner notes with a complete “tune-ology” by Irish music scholar Don Meade. The tracks cover traditional tunes (many pulled from Francis O’Neil’s Music of Ireland: Over 1,000 Fiddle Tunes book) that were either familiar or new to Magill and Murray. There are also a handful of originals.
The duo opens with a set of traditional Irish/Scottish/Cape Breton jigs followed by back-to-back reel sets. They close with another lively jig set before leading into an original Magill tune titled Harry’s House. Magill’s lightly swaying tune provides a momentary repose as the duo gradually picks up speed with slow reels that lead into an energetic set of hornpipes. The spellbinding team draws the musical experience to a close with Magill’s upbeat reel originals (in honour of two special friends), a set of jigs, and traditional reels. The jig set combines another original Magill tune, a traditional Clare tune, and a tune written by “Tune-a-Day” fiddle and whistle player Colin Farrell Lúnasa).
No matter the combination of tunes, Magill’s masterful command of the fiddle against Murray’s skillfully coordinated chordal accompaniments captures the attention from one track to the next.
Anita Lock

From Squeezing
Career Records, 11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
“Brodie Christ, rhymes with wrist”—Christ’s way of introducing himself and defusing connections with the religious icon. While the catchy moniker combination is striking, more so is the music from this rising artist. Canadian-born (northeast of Toronto), Christ attributes his involvement with songwriting and heading up bands since his mid-teens to the influences of melodic folk and pop musicians like Neil Young, Elton John, and Cat Stevens. Years of practice have produced his Indie-folk, alternative style.
In From Squeezing, Christ’s songs reflect personal experiences—the emotional highs and lows during a pandemic and turbulent political atmosphere. The album gets your attention from the get-go in Everything You Need, especially with a message that includes, “this is the rest of your life you’re wasting away”. A light chugging rhythm introduces Christ’s David-Gilmour-like voice, and the rest is history as one song follows the next with relatable human-interest topics. For example, there’s hope amid restlessness in Collapsing Stars and peace amid war in From Squeezing. The music shifts from a heavier upbeat tempo to a slow, steady pace while he belts out poignant lyrics at the song’s apex in Hell for Courage as Christ speaks of that moment of clarity within a problematic relationship.
Love reaches another level in Ready to Swim, while No Coins is a throwback to a Pink Floyd style but with a fresh twist. These Changes speaks of persistence. Burnout may be self-explanatory, but the lyrics are thought-provoking. Christ shifts downer lyrics by throwing in a catchy chorus in The Defeatist Psalm. The album closes with more reflections on life issues in The Same Song and Oh How Funny. Christ is spot on when he states that From Squeezing “does not pull any punches and offers a nakedly introspective and intimate affair…”
Anita Lock