Releases > Releases June 2024

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Chongie Road
Own label, 10 Tracks, 41 Minutes
Uilleann piper/whistle player Seán Lynch captures the heartbeat of growing up on Achill Island in his debut album. Featured artists include Tony Byrne (guitar), Joseph McNulty (fiddle/bodhran), Niall Hughes (double bass), Alex Borwick (trombone/keys/percussion), and Collie Ahern (side & bass drum).
Chongie Road opens with The Big House–a lively jig set instrumentally building from The Big House and The Sunny Side to The Munster Buttermilk. An eerie double-bass slide grabs listeners’ attention before they kick their heels to The Road to Lisdoonvarna reel set (The Merry Thatcher/Trim the Velvet/The Road to Lisdoonvarna), followed by another trad reel set, The Scholar (The Boys on the Hilltop/The Scholar). A backdrop of ocean waves stirs nostalgia in the slow air, Valencia Harbour.
More reels and a driving bodhran beat set the dancing pace again in Off the Cuff (The Wind that Shakes the Barely/The Rainy Day), which leads into the energetic O’Connor’s jig set (Gan ainm tune/O’Connor’s) before introducing hopping trad reels (Miss Monaghan/Nine Pint Coggie) in the Nine Pint Coggie set. A violin and trombone improv segment in Jewels of the Ocean will delight listeners, followed by a final toe-tapping jig, The Wandering Minstrel, before Chongie Road draws to a close with Lynch’s original and thought-provoking Chongie Road slow air—complete with spoken word (Brid McLoughlin) and backdrop of the Chongie River’s trickling stream.
Kudos to Lynch, who has turned a personal memoir into a timeless musical collection!
Anita Lock

Sound Solution, 10 Tracks, 47 Minutes
On the self-titled CD by Portage is a selection of ten tunes and songs. Five of North America’s finest female musicians have come together and become Portage. Anne Lederman, Erynn Marshall, Laura Risk, and Christina Smith all play fiddle with Jean Hewson providing the guitar accompaniment. All the ladies are Canadian, with the exception of Laura Risk. Originally from California but having spent many years in Québec she may well be an honorary Canadian now.
The word ‘Portage’ is the word for overland travel between bodies of water. Many bodies of water were travelled across for Canada to become the country it is today. Much music has been brought to the Canadian shores by waves of immigrants. Portage is very aptly titled and very aptly put together to show that this music really has travelled and has helped make the music and cultural landscape of Canada what it is. It doesn’t disappoint.
All tunes on the album are from the cultures which came to make up Canada – French, Irish, Scottish and many more. The tunes here have long connections where they originate and have been passed down through the generations. Added to these are a number of brand-new compositions. The first tune in the Dawning set is one composed by fiddle and band member Erynn Marshall. This is immediately followed by Washington’s March and then the foot-tapping traditional song from Southwest Virgina, Raleigh & Spenser. You’ll recognise The Rocky Road to Dublin, the 18th Century Scottish tune, The Flowers of Edinburgh and you will foot-tap from the onset of Mrs Belle through to the finale with The Teddy Boy set.
This is no easy-listening collection of music. This will have you ready to dance and you can’t help but sway as you enjoy. You’ll find yourself getting up and dancing the country or the highland dance. And you won’t stop.
This fiddling album shows how music connects and the world of Canada has connected with its founding cultures and countries right here in Portage. Guesting on the album are Wendy MacIssac (Cape Breton fiddler) and Bryan Poirier (fiddler from Moncton).
Gráinne McCool

Ri Taobh a’ Chuain
Own Label, 5 Tracks, 22 Minutes
Half an album - a little more than an EP but somewhat short of a full CD, Ri Taobh a’ Chuain presents five traditional songs from Robert John, four in Gaelic and the perennial Loch Lomond in English. MacInnes is as much a pianist as a singer, and much of the beauty on this recording is in the arrangements of these Scottish songs. From his home in Kishorn, as a young man he looked across to Raasay and Skye, birthplace of the love song An Roghainn by Sorley MacLean and Donald Shaw, and beyond to the Outer Hebrides and North Uist where John MacCodrum wrote the powerful lament Smeòrach Clann Dòmhnaill. This music is steeped in the mist and spirit of Gaeldom.
Now based in Glasgow, and still in his early twenties, Robert John MacInnes has enlisted the help of guitarist Keith Morrison as well as multi-tracking his own vocals and piano to make this solo debut a full and varied collection. Three tracks showcase MacInnes’ exceptional touch on piano, with two unaccompanied Gaelic songs including the final An Ataireachd Àrd by Donald MacIver of Lewis, one of the finest modern Hebridean anthems and a personal favourite of mine. Robert John’s solo voice holds up flawlessly on this challenging piece, contrasting perfectly with the preceding piano and voice arrangement of Loch Lomond which is bound to be a popular track.
Music and song, spirit and soul combine on Ri Taobh a’ Chuain, promising a bright future for Robert John MacInnes.
Alex Monaghan

Out of the Ashes
ANIS002, 12 Tracks, 56 Minutes
A native of France, UK resident, Julie Abbé has a unique, distinct voice, emotionally connected to her lyrics. Her new album Out of the Ashes, all self-penned, deals with female agency in the joy of love, the pain of loss, the circularity of grief and healing.
With three songs in her native French language, Lanternes d’Or, Au Bord de la Rivière, and Melusine which is an exquisite blend of tender vocals with exotic flute and percussion.
Take Me Away captures a dreamscape vibe, silken-voiced, the poet invoking the lover to take her away, to “show me around to his hidden places”, to take her away, “deep into the night”, beautifully sensual, an homage to new love, in her signature style of folk, jazz and bluesy blend. Songs of Love has experimental, innovative playing and arrangements, well achieved.
Hushing The Blues Away is outstanding, in the voice of the unrequited, jilted but invested in recovery, directing her pain, “guiding it out through the door”, taking charge so as the offender will “haunt my dreams no more”, with an ethereal touch, her voice ranging from an intimate whisper in the verses to surging chorus.
Medicine Tune, mouth music, powerful, haunting, the intricate relationship between voice and instrumentation so beautiful, a warm cohesion, elegant and incantatory, she performed it at the opening ceremony at Glastonbury 2022 to great acclaim.
Out of the Ashes was produced by guitarist James Grunwell with highly skilled guest musicians; Sam Quintana on double bass, Ewan Bleach on reeds and Paul Johnson, percussion and flute, a very stylish album from an assured and accomplished writer, poet, songstress.
Out of the Ashes becomes gold dust in this case, and do please see her website for links to performances and her other work. and follow Julie on Facebook & instagram @julieabbemusic
Anne Marie Kennedy

The Homeroad
Own Label RRC02CD, 7 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Known for his fiery playing with the Peatbog Faeries and his own energetic compositions such as Strictly Sambuca or Melbourne, this young Shetland fiddler has been at the forefront of the Scottish folk scene for a while and has released a couple of duo albums along the way, so it’s surprising that this is his first solo recording. I say solo, the band is far from just a backing group, with Michael Biggins on keys, Sam Mabbett on buttons, Paul Jennings on percussion and spots of bass from Duncan Lyall, all master musicians in their own right. Together they produce an awesome sound, fiddle-led but artfully filled out, bringing this music to life as a shared creation. Couper has penned most of the material here: twelve out of fifteen pieces are his
The opening medley is almost an overture, a ten minute trio of tunes kicking straight in with fingers flying on the punchy reel Da Clubb, mellowing out with the sultry Farewell to Dumbarton Road, and then cranking up again for the swaggering march Clunie Road which comes from the same stable as Melbourne. Tasty syncopation, piano lines and varied percussion make this a great introduction to Homeroad. The fiddle’s pretty amazing too! A beautiful Shetland bridal march and a couple of pieces from Ireland and Cape Breton cue up Margaret Robertson’s Reel, a great tune written by Ross for his mother. The party vibe of Da Lang Ayre brings in button box on a very contemporary dance set before an almost country waltz. Then it’s back to reels, another languid air on box and fiddle, and the final full-throttle medley. Excellent music with lots of twists: Ross Couper is certainly going places on The Homeroad.
Alex Monaghan

The Road Back Home
Quinlan Road, 10 Tracks, 42 Minutes
The cover art on Loreena McKennitt’s new album The Road Back Home depicts a remote, bucolic setting; farmhouses, pastures, a rock outcrop, all dwarfed by a rugged mountain range split by a trail that leads away, full of possibilities, a journey metaphor, the leaving and coming back.
The album, McKennitt says, ‘harkens back to her roots’, a journey of over thirty years, with material drawn from her early years on the folk music circuit, some of the songs previously unrecorded. With a high profile in contemporary Celtic music, her beginnings were in the humble folk clubs and festival circuit in Western Canada, which this album celebrates.
In keeping with the artful image, there are songs of nature, such as Searching for Lambs recorded live, a delightful opener, also Bonny Portmore, which laments the demise of oak forests, her voice dancing lightly in polished performance. Greystones is an enchanting waltz and her version of Mary & the Soldier is a rousing one. Her version of As I Roved Out is all drama, the voice wild and rich, operatic, with dramatic arrangements, a trad orchestra for backing, bound to be the backbone number in a concert setting.
With stellar musical accompaniment, Custom Gap is a showcase of brilliant instrumentation, a gentle lead in on fiddles and whistles, then away they soar, into a rip-roaring set of wild tunes, buoyant and sprightly, also recorded live, superb playing and arrangements. Salvation Contradiction, a bracing set of tunes, vigorous, authoritative playing, as is the final pair,
Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór/Wild Mountain Thyme.
The Road Back Home is a fine piece of work from a woman who has already proved her mettle as a silken-voiced vocalist. The album may very well be adding to her already overflowing mantelpiece of awards and nominations.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Own Label, 11 Tracks, 40 Minutes
Leonard Barry’s new album Littoral is his third solo recording, its title refers to the edge of the world where sea meets shore. Inspired by his journey along Ireland’s Atlantic fringe, from his youth in Kilmoyley in North Kerry to his present abode in Sligo on the Connacht coast. The tunes too, as you’ll read below, have taken a number of roads to arrive at this Littoral border.
Place is a powerful marker in much of traditional music’s catalogue of tunes, but so too are people and past performances. Barry was first smitten by the sound of Paddy Keenan’s pipes and in particular Paddy’s Bothy Band version of The Pipe on the Hob. Leonard Barry plays that tune with passion and pedigree. A salute to a master from a man who has completely mastered his craft. Listen to how he moves up a key as The Pipe on the Hob gives way to The Fly in the Porter and then into The Stolen Purse.
The album was produced by Michael McGoldrick, who alongside Brian McDonagh and Leonard, also mixed the tracks. Guest musicians invited along to provide added extra dimensions to old tunes, are: Shane McGowan (guitar), Andy Morrow and Kevin Burke (fiddles), Michael Holmes, Seamie O’Dowd and Brian McDonagh (bouzouki), with Michael McGoldrick on flute and Alice Allen on Cello -  her track was recorded in Scotland.
There is a deep well of history to draw from if you are an uilleann piper, this is the case on the opening track The Munster Rake / The Arra Mountains / Last Night​’​s Fun. The first tune is from Farrell’s 1810 publication, the second from Paddy O’Brien, the Tipperary accordion player, the last one a popular session tune. Leonard plays a tune from his home parish: The First of May, which he combines with The Few Bob (a tune picked up from concertina player Rick Epping who learned it from Clare fiddler Joe Ryan); the backing from Shane McGowan is top drawer.
Leonard slows things down with a big slow air, Aisling Ghael from Cul Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of Cork. Leonard’s playing is profound, notes are held against a drone, vibrato is used as the tune shifts into the upper register. Alice Allen’s cello blends in beautifully with Barry’s resonant pipes. You can hear in his playing why the uilleann pipes were first thought of as being an Irish pipe organ. This is unvarnished piping at its best, no studio reverb, no digital cleansing, as pure drop as you’ll find anywhere.
Barry puts down the pipes for a continental set of tunes: La Valse de Pasteriaux / La Polverita Fiera, the first from Michael McGoldrick who had it from composer, the Breton Musician Jackie Pollard. The second came to Barry via John Carty who found it in the compositions of the US based LE McCullough.
The final track has echoes of his Bothy Band heroes, a selection of St. Ruth​’​s Bush/ The Old Pensioner / The Monastereden Fancy, with its pulsating bouzouki and layers of harmony. It’s a fitting and uplifting end to one of the best piping albums you are likely to find in this, or indeed, any other year.
Seán Laffey

Own Label, 10 Tracks, 38 Minutes
Passages is the debut album from four Montreal musicians that are Sassenach. Exploring Irish, Scottish and Quebecois traditional music with creative, innovative arrangements, and writing their own compositions in the Celtic music tradition, they have successfully weaved a collection of beautifully crafted music. Each musician takes their turn as a soloist in pieces featuring their voice or instrument and sings in Gaelic, English, or French.
This is a very authentic and original collection of music. Much of what we have heard before but now in a new composite. With much string arrangement (alongside percussion and keys), there is a delicate tone to each piece bringing new life and new enjoyment to the same.
It’s an easy listening yet musically awakening collection. The mix of voices with instruments provides a soothing and relaxing balance that connects in all the right places. It’s a combination of vocals, a delightful string ensemble alongside the bodhrán percussion. Jane’s vocals welcome us to the beautiful collection on the first track, Siúbhán Ní Dhuibhir, sang as gaelige, it sets the tone for the entire album – beautiful vocals accompanied by equally beautiful musical arrangement. It’s Jane’s vocals again on Spancil Hill and a haunting rendition of the song it is.
The music does the talking on Susan’s composition The Loon. The tune was inspired by a pair of loons (Gavia immer) at her parents’ lakeside cottage. Towards the end we hear the loons bobbing for fish through the music. It is a beautiful piece of music speaking to us.
The set of 10 tracks closes with a twist in Star of the County Down/The Bus Stop Reel. The well-known song is quickly followed by a foot-stomping reel to round off a wonderful debut collection of music and song.
Gráinne McCool

Tús Maith
Own Label, 3 Tracks, 10 Minutes
Muintir is Brendan Monaghan, Cecilie Louise Mace Stensrud, Kaja Kowalska and Gareth Eason, who play traditional Irish music in Norway and throughout Europe. Tús Maith is an EP of three tracks, cracking music, a tantalising glimpse into their individual and collective talents.
All multi-instrumentalists, Monaghan’s pipes and whistles anchor the tunes, solid harmonies in the song Níl Sé na Lá, a nice lively version with the penultimate chorus sung acapella, very effective. Great variety in the playing, traditional Irish to the core, the music is in safe hands.
With a plethora of traditional instruments: bodhran, fiddles, whistles, pipes, drones, guitars, Muintir
have created a unique musical patchwork, staying true to the Irish but putting their own stamp on it, great maturity in the playing and arrangements. They have added unique textures, cross-cultural vibes united in the music, one can understand why they are in demand, be it an intimate venue, concert hall, festival, wake or wedding.
The title comes from an old Irish proverb, ‘tus maith, leath na h-oibre’, translates as ‘a good start is half the work’, mightily appropriate here; the work comes easy to this foursome. Go whet your appetite, get a taste of them on their website.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Own Label, Single, 4 Minutes
Aisling qualified as a Professional Master of Music Education in 2021 with First Class Honours. Aisling has over 10 years’ experience teaching both harp & concertina, groups, bands, duets, trios, céilí band drums, secondary school music & primary school level groups. She is the current harp tutor at the University of Limerick, University College Cork and was the first teacher with the Clare Music Generation Harp Ensemble.
Sunbeam is a contemporary piece of music for the harp, beautifully played by Aisling and meticulously recorded & mixed by Ben Wanders, Wanderland Studios.
Aisling writes on her Bandcamp page that this piece of music was written for “my dear friend, Sarah who passed away suddenly at the end of 2023. A shining light, a sunbeam.” This is the kind of music I’d like written for me when my time too comes, it’s neither sad nor melancholy, there’s a joyous celebration of a life lived, of the light of our existence. The repeated opening phrase is paused for a brief moment as if Aisling is spellbound in reflection. As the track slows down, there are echoes and resonances, and a gentle fade into the realm of story and beautifully formed memories.
Seán Laffey