Releases > Releases May 2022

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Own Label, 15 Tracks, 61 Minutes
Cork singer/musician Meadhbh Walsh launched her first album in February 2021 and has quickly followed it up with her second album, Unforgotten. This second collection is one of 15 tracks and holds many songs of Ireland’s unforgotten past, alongside a number of contemporary ones which Walsh herself is very fond of. The new album is all about sharing the love of Irish folk music in the modern world and remembering and recalling all the good and the bad of Ireland’s past.
Opening with the track Shanagolden we are taken right back to the time of the War of Independence and a time when Ireland was fighting for freedom. Followed by Sail on Jimmy an Irish pagan ritual brought to life originally by Christy Moore. Walsh does both these songs about Ireland’s past much justice with her elegant voice. A Song for Marcella is another song dedicated to Ireland’s past, to Bobby Sands and the hunger strikers of the 80’s. Meadhbh Walsh is not letting Irish history die and clearly feels very strongly about keeping it alive in her music.
A number of well-known tracks follow, including Blowing in the Wind, Back Home in Derry and On the One Road. Walsh has created something special in this collection and the title itself is reminding us that this world gone by must never be forgotten. And what better way to keep it alive than with music bringing it all together in the modern world. Not forgetting Óro Óro, Leaving Nancy, Faraway in Australia, Isle of Hope, Sad Song for Susan, Free the People and Sniper’s Promise. She captures a wide collection of history in song.
Finishing up with one of my favourites, Home to Donegal, these tracks really did make me stop and think, but allowed me to enjoy history through the music. With musicians Andrew Doyle and Brendan O’Connor, Unforgotten is one you won’t forget once you’ve heard it.
Gráinne McCool

3 On the Bund
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 44 Minutes
3 On the Bund specializes in spectacular original arrangements and tunes in their 10-track debut, Frenzy. The band includes Aisling Lyons (harp, concertina), Rebecca McCarthy-Kent (fiddle, viola, keys), Seán Kelliher (guitar, banjo, mandolin), and Simon Pfisterer (Uilleann pipes, whistles). Guest musicians Róisín Ryan (vocals; Celtic Steps), Trevor Hutchinson (double bass; Lúnasa), and Dermot Sheedy (bodhrán; Hermitage Green) join them on their album.
A mix of original arrangements and tunes, Frenzy opens with Singing Stream, a lively set of reels: Niall Vallely’s Singing Stream and Cathal Hayden’s Gortavale RockLocal Hero perfectly segues from Mark Knopfler’s Local Hero to The Master’s Return. Róisín’s silky vocals complete Dubliners’ I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me. Well-known jigs—The Cordal JigMcIntyre’s Fancy, and The Mouse in the Kitchen—take front and centre in Fancy a Few Jigs.
Frenzy picks up the pace, opening first with Rebecca’s slower alternating-meter tune, Áine’s, followed by Aisling’s Through the Roof and closing with Breanndán Begley’s Frenzy. A lovely slower melody, written by Seán, Not What It Seems, follows with New Year’s Day, an energetic set of original tunes—Seán’s jig, Cover Confusion, and Rebecca’s reel, New Year’s Day.
Róisín sings on the band’s version of Skipinnish’s The IslandRosewood, named after the C chanter Simon plays, is composed of two original slip jigs, Rebecca’s Trip to Pocahontas and Seán’s RosewoodFrenzy closes with Farewell, a smashing set, including Franzi Müller’s Farewell, a jig from Mayo-native Stephen Doherty, and an old favourite, John Stenson’s Reel.
Frenzy is a superb debut from a spanking-fresh band with infinite potential!
Anita Lock

Bitz & Beatz
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 40 Minutes
Canadian fiddler and step dancer Kerry Fitzgerald continues to “push the boundaries of Celtic music” as she collaborates with a mighty array of musicians on her 11-track “electro-fiddle” fusion album, Bitz & Beatz.
The album opens with East End Beatz, an upbeat fiddle tune featuring East Ender Sean Clarey (guitar, beats). Westport, a tune written during a rainy day in Westport, Ireland, captures Fitzgerald’s jazzy counterpoint against a Pachelbel cannon-like ground bass. Brian Finnegan (Flook, whistle) and Ed Boyd (Lúnasa, guitar) join in on a slow waltz (Finn Flute) followed by an upbeat melody (Ed in the Clouds). A mellow song sends a reminder to us that empathy over judgment builds compassion in Think You Know.
The fifth track includes My Love, a tender instrumental tune—a wedding gift for her sister. Greenwood Girls is a jazzy, up-tempo tune featuring Clarey (beats) commemorating Fitzgerald’s pastime of playing pond hockey at Greenwood Park. Fitzgerald’s minimalist skills follow the style of electro-pop singer Imogen Heap in ImmiGrommit, a sweet keyboard (Denis Lanetôt) and fiddle tune in honour of Grommit, Fitzgerald’s grandmother.
Highgates, a slower tune with punctuated beats written during Fitzgerald’s time in the London district, includes Spencer Murray (Spencer Murray & Pipeslinger) on low whistle. Fitzgerald’s instrumental (keyboard) tune, Winter Walk, provides reflection of taking a walk in freshly fallen snow. Beauty & the Beatz is “a juxtaposition of gentle acoustic instrumentation with rugged electronic beats” (liner notes)—the perfect description to bring to a close a perfectly delightful album!
Anita Lock

Hometown: Stockton’s Wing Live
Universal Music Ireland 3884003, 15 Tracks, 65 Minutes
This 15-track collection was recorded live in 2020 in Ennis and at TradFest, Dublin. Recorded a month before the pandemic shut down live music in Ireland for two years.
The Wing as their fans know them are an institution in Clare. This version of the band, who have been together for the past 7 years is founding members Mike Hanrahan and Paul Roche. For the past several years they have been joined by fiddler extraordinaire Tara Breen, Karol Lynch on banjo and mandolin, and guitarist Paul McSherry.
With such a big back catalogue no surprise that their live show is full of favourites: for example Walk Away, it is Irish Folk rock at its best, the story of the busker’s lot when the passer by refuses to drop a coin in the opened case. In Our World finds Tara Breen’s fiddle high above the lead vocals; she drops off when the chorus breaks in, the instrumental section is taken up by the flute - this is well thought out performance music. They go back to their trad roots on Tatter Clonmult, banjo and fiddle pushing father Jack Walsh into a frenzy of dancing. The second reel has even more pizzazz, harking back to the super groups of the 1970s; we all know this kind of high energy trad never goes out of fashion. Being a live show they include some show stoppers. Track 14 is Skidoo, a very subdued opening, atmospheric percussion and a didgeridoo, before that unmistakable Clare music breaks through.
From there they have to finish on an all-time classic of theirs, Strange Affair. This is the modern anthem for the banner county, with its opening lines evoking standing on the rocks in Doolin at the end of a summer’s evening watching the sun run away to America, before you head to the Piper’s Chair for tunes, chat and a chance to feel the air (well that’s what it does for me). The crowd join in on the la la la chorus. It’s great to be home with your own people. The album is a beautiful live affair, it would be, it’s from the Wing.
Seán Laffey

Brand New Day
Bard Craft, 10 Tracks, 35 Minutes
Jessica Willis Fisher writes honest songs, songs made to show she has recovered from hurt and trauma, from betrayal and brutal abuse. Her story is one of public record; on this album she puts her thoughts on record, music is her catharsis.
She’s far too intelligent to make these songs into depressing recollections. There is absolutely no self-pity anywhere on this album, from the title track Brand New Day her work is replete with hope. She’s turned a corner and her songs will help others to look themselves in the mirror and realize they are better, much better, than their past.
Charmed by literature as a child (it was a means of escape from her father’s attentions), she has honed a keen ear for lyrics; a facility for the pinpoint word makes her songs memorable. Even if you don’t know her back-story there are lyrics here to inspire and drive you forward, every word originating from the winding road she’s travelled. On one of the family’s trips to Ireland she wrote the melody of River Runaway and completed the lyrics on her return to the USA.
This is the first album she made away from the family, and her newfound sense of freedom is evident. This album is full of killer tunes and memorable lyrics. Right from the get go, on the title track Brand New Day, Jessica’s way ahead looks far better than the road she’s left behind. Taking control is key as she says in the song, “everyone has to choose, you don’t have a thing to lose”, the band rising to the sentiment with a full drum kit, five string banjo and a twist of country guitar, setting us up for what’s to come down the pike. River Runaway, with its Enya style opening and Jessica’s lonesome fiddle that is resonant and confident, her plea to the river is, “would you wash away every lingering stain that so often appears”. This is Celtic country, a big chorus and strident fiddle swirling like eddies around a rock, we know both the river and Jessica will get through.
My History opens with the telling line: “history is written at the hands of those who win”. This is HER story, HER triumph, the second part of the sentence puts her in the winner’s enclosure, “the battle must be over for the writing to begin”. The song ends with the line, “I am my survivor and you are just my history”.
October First addresses her struggle with the responsibility of speaking up to protect others going forward and wondering what her role can be in making future change. A brave decision, a brave album, and full of brave songs from one of the bravest ladies I’ve ever known. If you have a daughter, buy her this album. Inspiring is too small a word to laud the power of Jessica Willis Fisher’s songs and music.
Seán Laffey

However Long The Day
Own Label, 14 Tracks, 58 Minutes, 40 Seconds
Two musicians Brian Hughes (pipes and whistle) and Dave Sheridan (fiddle), who have known each other for years, having played in numerous sessions, have for the first time recorded together; their collaboration is breath-taking. Supported by funding from Kildare County Council the two leads are joined by Garry Ó Briain, Jim Higgins, Michelle Sheridan and Eric De Buitlear, the title referring to the time at the end of the day set aside for music. A time of relaxation, where the cares and rush of the world can wait until tomorrow.
That sense of inner ease percolates every last molecule of this album. The opening set of jigs whets our appetite for more to come, with its butter smooth transitions between The Maid in the Meadow and the Wheels of The World. Hughes’s whistle bristles on Shanahan’s Hornpipe; listen out for the bass line here, it’s an effective and subtle foil. Later on the same track, hear a faultless shift to the minor as the selection flies into The Leitrim Thrush.
That pace is easy on Robert Burn’s A Man’s A Man for A That, played as slow air and moving into the livelier Road to Banff followed by the Asturian tune Muineira de Rengos. Sheridan takes a fiddle solo on track four, with Garry Ó Briain adding in little touches of bluesy guitar backing. Here his fiddle is earthy and raw on the hornpipe Mary Bán, which segues into the Rainy Day and Paddy Cronin’s Reel. Brian Hughes takes the main spotlight on the solo slow air An Ciarraoích Mallaithe; this is excellent piping of the highest quality.
The quality shines on every track. I must mention the liner notes, which are informative, and a springboard to further study. The players here bring the wisdom of experience to an album of traditional music that will outlive us all. However Long the Day is a recording for ages to come. There is no ‘however’ about it: this is a classic.
Seán Laffey

Where Old Ghosts Meet
Under The Eaves Records UTE006,
8 Tracks, 52 Minutes
At first glance this album’s track list looks like a gift-set of Irish ballads, but take a look at the extended track time. There’s the clue; expect big songs here, imaginative explorations and surprising twists and turns of melodies, lyrics and narrative.
The Haar’s approach to song recording is in their own words ‘live reactive composition’. The instrumentalists, Adam Summerhayes (fiddle), Murray Grainger (accordion) and Cormac Byrne (bodhrán) improvising while Molly Donnery frees the song’s inner spirits, hence the title Where Old Ghosts Meet. In the Haar’s spontaneous method, which they have mastered completely, each track is a once off, the musicians capturing their musical and emotional responses to Donnery’s intense rereading of the meaning of the lyrics.
For example on Home Boys Home, which was a tankard thumping rafter-rouser in the hands of ganseyed balladeers of the 1960s, Donnery uncovers the truth, the song’s heroine is abandoned, pregnant, the culprit blasé and cruel in his parting words. There are surprises a plenty, Adam Summerhayes’ fiddle taking us on a paradoxical carousel ride in She Moved Through The Fair. Contrasting the pledge of a fair day with the grief of bereavement, the juxtaposition of the pain of loss with the pain of lost promise. There’s the unexpected too, Byrne’s simultaneous steady yet unsettling bodhrán on Danny Boy, Murray Grainger’s foreboding accordion on the introduction to Wild Mountain Thyme, this version more poignant and autobiographical, a tragedy in miniature. This, the final track, is flavoured with eastern European fiddle from Summerhayes, Donnery’s voice fragile and vulnerable, condensing the hurt of imminent emigration, accordion and fiddle ending on a long high note like a cry of despair. The Haar are making Irish folk music like no other band in the world. They understand the DNA of ballads and are forensically creating music that is other-worldly. They are taking familiar Irish ballads into an altogether different artistic space.
Seán Laffey

The LoCal
Pingin 01, 8 Tracks, 37 Minutes
Before the pandemic four musicians got together for a jam session at Joe Gallagher’s GAF recording studio in Knockgraffen, County Tipperary, and they liked what they did. They liked it so much that they formed a band, then asked Joe to press the record button and this album was born.
The LoCal are James Delaney (keyboards), Kevin Malone (drums & percussion), Eoghan O’Neill (5-string bass) and Ciarán Tourish (fiddle and low whistle). Their pedigree includes stints with Altan, Moving Hearts, Chris Rea Band, Van Morrison, Mary Black, Sinead O’Connor and Los Paradiso: their USP is a combination of R&B and jazzy funk running under solid traditional Irish tunes.
Once you fuse traditional music with other genres it opens up the possibilities and dynamics within tunes. Hence their Star of Munster expands to 5 minutes, starting with a sonic wash on the keyboards and pizzicato fiddle, the bass then adding a groove to the fiddle’s top line, the sound filling and widening as the tune shifts to the Templehouse Reel, with a middle section of tumbling keys while the fiddler takes a breath. Will You Come Home With Me takes a while to establish, the tune is paired with Peter O’Brien Fancy, the swap-over being a lush echoey interplay from the back line. Ciarán slows things down on Comb Your Hair And Curl It, Malone’s percussion holding the track steady, then two thirds of the way in Ciarán picks up speed on Jimmy Wards, which itself is preceded by some clever off-beat bass from Eoghan O’Neill. Ciarán summons up the spirit of the Northwest on track 5, Mrs Malone’s Grandfather Clock, a selection of Matt Peoples and Ciarán’s own composition Philip Crofts.
The final track sees Ciarán out front on Sonny Brogan’s Fancy, the keys adding chords on the first beat of the bar; the second half of the piece Condon’s Fancy features more of a harmonic drone from the keyboards, creating a full-on ending.
The LoCal has made an album from their blended musical DNA, freshly baked from their funk folk rock and Donegal ingredients. It is an album to make fans of this genre of Celtic music sit up and listen.
Seán Laffey

Pure Records, 13 Tracks, 53 Minutes &
Two banjo styles, two banjo traditions and two types of banjo join forces on this innovative album from Damien O’Kane (Irish tenor banjo) and Ron Block (bluegrass five string). This mixture goes beyond trading alternate tracks in the name of amalgamation. There’s something more organic growing in this collaboration. For example on Taxi Driver, a tune written to thank Damien’s dad for the dozens of free lifts that were provided in his teenage years, beginning with simple quiet chords on the tenor banjo to herald in an Irish tune, the complexity builds, there’s a jazzy interlude, O’Kane’s playing momentarily takes on the spirit of the old plectrum players from the 1930s and the piece ends with its feet somewhere in the foothills of the Appalachians.
Irish nyah and American yeehaw share the laughter in the funky Happy Chappy. There’s a running tenor banjo on Daisy’s Dance, named for Damien’s daughter, followed by a piece for his other daughter Happy Little Phoebe; it’s happy and quirky, capturing her nature, personified by the bent twangy strings of Ron Block’s banjo.
Ron dips deeper into his American roots in an original piece he composed one night in Damien’s kitchen in Yorkshire called Bide the Night, revealing how gentle the five string can be as it lands softly on the final cadence. Ron is joined by mandolin player Sierra Hull on The Fiddler’s Gun, which hails from the modal shaded groves of bluegrass music. Other collaborators include Mike McGoldrick, effervescent as ever on the whistle.
Both Damien and Ron are fine singers, yet they only contribute one song each to Banjophonics; Ron’s Endless Wonder has some fine song lines such as: “A good book in my pocket makes music in my head.” Damien sings Woman of No Place, Barry Kerr’s reflection on the life of Margaret Barry, Kate Rusby adding backing vocals. The album finishes on a flourish of fusion with The Thrifty Wife, O’Kane’s tenor and Block’s five strings with a little dash of spice from Hulls’ mandolin. No matter how you like your banjo served, there’s something tasty for everyone in Banjophonics.
Seán Laffey

20 Printemps
La Compagnie du Nord, 12 Tracks, 53 Minutes
This album marks the 20th anniversary of one of Quebec’s finest traditional groups. The band was formed in 2002 by current members Nicolas Boulerice (piano & hurdy gurdy) and Olivier Demers (fiddle, bass, mandolin, guitar). They are now a 5 piece with Simon Beaudry (bouzouki & guitar) and the Brunet brothers, André on fiddle and Rejean on accordion, bass, bombarde and piano. They all sing and are masters of podorythme (foot percussion). This line-up has been wowing audiences across the world since 2017.
The first track Tour De Monde is dedicated to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival; the set begins with a Celtic reel Toto followed by Olivier’s, Reel Scandanaviene and the ABC Reel, in that one track we discover the compass of their instrumental playing, it’s a triumph.
There’s some Americana, Quebec style of course, on Ma Louise, with bluegrass in the mandolin chops; the song is from Cheticamp on the Acadian west coast of Cape Breton. Singing is an integral element of Quebecois folk music and they add to the national library by writing Dan’s L’Eau De Vie De L’Arbre, a tribute to the unknown First Nation culinary geniuses who discovered how to make maple syrup. There are other songs too, a perfect piece of mouth music for spring Turlute Du Mai; imagine Irish lilting by a five-piece choir and you’d be close. Nicolas proves he is a sensitive songwriter on Ameriquois, which deals with the amalgamation of native and settler cultures. With its characteristic call and answer chorus it has a very traditional feel.  The final track is a lullaby, Petit Reve IV, a guitar and fiddle tune that I just didn’t want to end. It’s one for the loop option. The album’s cover is as bright and cheerful as their music, their website is a visual delight, and you can listen to all of the tracks before you decide to buy them. Twenty out of twenty for their joy of spring.
Seán Laffey

Anywhere But Home
Own Label, 9 Tracks, 40 Minutes
Exile puts the home place into sharp focus, at least in one’s mind’s eye; James Joyce did it with Ulysses and Eamonn Flynn has done it with Anywhere But Home. Flynn is a long-time resident of California’s Bay Area, he’s best known at home for his piano and Hammond organ work on the soundtrack of The Commitments. He takes to the piano again for an album of richly figured songs that are as fresh as wet paint. Eamonn brings his songs to life with the help of some of the finest musicians in the world: Athena Tergis, John Doyle and Mick McAuley (Solas), Mike McGoldrick (Lúnasa, Mark Knopfler), Todd Denman, James Macintosh (Shooglenifty), and James Blennerhassett (Paul Brady, Mary Black), as well as Grammy-winning Bay Area drummer Brian Collier (Santana, Ledesi, Lalah Hathaway).  Many of Flynn’s songs recall the Dublin of the early 1990s, shortly before he left in 1997. Today thanks to social media, exile isn’t what it used to be, and he’s bang up to the minute on Ringsend Balcony Bingo, a musical marker to tell future generations of how some Dubs got through the pandemic.
Dublin is the main character in this album, cherished like the old friend whom Flynn recalls fondly; oh the fun they had mitching from school in St. Anne’s Park. The once in a lifetime joy of watching the Irish soccer team and that famous Packie Bonner penalty save against Romania at Italia 90 (a song which Christy Moore should cover). And, as he intimates in the song, what better pub to watch save than in The Dockers, U2’s favourite spot round the corner from Windmill Lane Studios. One song at least is more historical than nostalgic. Sack Em Up brings to life the work of 19th century resurrectionists, who would remove fresh bodies from graves for sale to medical students. There is nothing stiff about the lively Irish melody Flynn has written to shroud this song in.
In contrast Baile Átha Cliath is full of sunlight; reminding us that Dublin is a glorious place to be on a summer’s day. The album closes with that most Irish of sayings, Sorry For Your Troubles, a funeral phrase transcending time and place. Eamonn Flynn’s song understands the grief of the moment and the dignity through which it is borne; death is never the end in Ireland, memories like songs are encouraged to live on. With the recent passing of the great Pete St. John, Dubliners need have no fear. The well is not dry; Flynn is the bard to continue the canon of songs for Dublin, because every generation needs its memories and melodies.
Seán Laffey

Our Voices Echo
Own Label RURACD004,
6 Tracks, 26 Minutes
Six chunky tracks, five champion guests, and four chuffed band members. It’s been hard times for RURA, like many others, but the release of their 2020 live album coincided with the Covid close-down and nothing much was heard of them until the release of this short album, this extended EP, which puts them back in the limelight with glare to spare.
Mike McGoldrick’s flute opens proceedings with a pumping medley of rhythms spanning Scots, Irish and Bulgarian styles, the way you do. Two of the finest young Scottish voices join the lads for songs in Gaelic and English: Julie Fowlis on the well-known Dh’èirich Mi Moch Madainn Cheòthar, with McGoldrick contributing uilleann pipes, and Hannah Rarity follows up with the contemporary American folk song Take This Heart of Gold. In between are two beautiful tracks featuring fiddler Duncan Chisholm: the air A’ Mhàiread Òg played with poignant accompaniment by Jack Smedley, and then a medley of the harrowing Gaelic anthem Chì Mi ’n Geamhradh plus Chisholm’s own reel Running the Cross written for the Highland Cross 50-mile endurance test.
The core of RURA - Dave Foley on flute, Smedley on fiddle, Steven Blake’s pipes and Adam Brown’s guitars - weave around their guests, filling the spaces or leaving room for the music to breathe, turning outstanding solo performances into superb musical moments. The last track is a fine example, three reels driven by the great piper and whistler Ross Ainslie, perfectly supported by fiddle and guitar, a piping duet with Blake, and a full band arrangement to close out this powerful selection with a bang. Our Voices Echo is the business and sees RURA back ontop form.
Alex Monaghan

Year of the Rat
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 46 Minutes
Gabriel Morena, a page-to-stage poet, singer, bi-lingual songwriter and musician packs a big punch in Year of the Rat. Using a combination of spoken word, verbal theatricality and social commentary, there will be comparisons made with Leonard Cohen, chiefly by how he uses instrumentation in tune with the human voice.
In the Irish bardic tradition also, poetry was spoken, recited, sung, and it dealt with contemporary issues. Morena’s themes are universal, the ordinary, ‘pantomime of everyday news’, exploring with great literary panache, the body, love, heartache, kinetics, isolation and the global lockdown.
Feel Like Dancing is a beautiful, evocative poem; ‘when I spin like a bird in the genderless roulette of waltzing by myself’, such tenderness. He uses a cactus plant, one that was gifted to him, one that will blossom repeatedly, like the repetitive rhythms of dance. It makes a sharp contrast between nature, growth, earthiness and the ethereal routine of a solo dancer. Everyday News, rhyming couplets, questions of self-doubt, soul-searching, set in the now where the poet is observing his closeted existence; ‘the prison of sameness, the window of trust/the gleam and the brightness, the mould and the rust’. Dance On In An Empty Field, a showcase of Morena’s word power, literary skill and emotional connectedness even during a pandemic. The writer/speaker longs to see the lover’s ‘lips dissemble in a song’, beautiful imagery. In addressing Covid 19 he knows that ‘love’s a game for the open highways and the plague has trapped us in a box’.
China’s Year of the Rat was 2020, an extraordinary year for the world, fitting that Morena, Gibraltar’s Cultural Ambassador 2022, would mark that year in this work. With stellar, sparse musical accompaniment and an unusual vocal range, there is great commitment and energy in the delivery here, lyricism and melodic, genre-defiant.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Following the Wind
Friendly Folk Records FFR21036, 11 Tracks, 44 Minutes
Let’s turn to Northern Europe, and more particularly Finland, where a Celtic folk-rock band called Greenrose Faire has been in existence for some fifteen years. Nothing predestined the two founders of the band to this type of music. Tomi Hyttinen and Niilo Sirola both played in a hard rock band. However, as they were passionate about fantasy and medieval literature, they decided one day to turn to folk and acoustic music. After recruiting four accomplices, all of whom were also involved in Celtic music, they launched the band under the name Greenrose Faire.
This band plays a relaxed and catchy folk rock with medieval and Celtic influences. The Finnish sextet skilfully mixes violin and bouzouki with drums, bass and keyboards. Their music sounds unmistakably lively and modern, while not neglecting the nostalgia of ancient times, and adding the sometimes disturbing accents of Finnish melancholy.
Both epic and grandiose, their new album Following the Wind, their fifth, touches the heart of the listeners thanks to a dynamic that never fails.
Eleven tracks, The Fire WithinFollowing the WindThe Tale of Scalliwag JoeGrateful For the RideInvincible…, led by the magnificent voice of singer Salla Rimmi, cross without restraint the territories of a Nordic folk that integrates melancholic ballads inspired by the sea shanties, flirting with Celtic folk and borrowing without complex from bluegrass or rock.
All the melodies and lyrics are original, composed by the band members. Theirs is a new music to discover.
Philippe Cousin

Green Hill Media GHM 10121, 11 Tracks, 48 Minutes
Since the revival of the 1970s, Irish music has been much appreciated, and played, in Germany, and the bands that have embraced it are legion, from Cara to Iontach, from An Tor to Sheevón or Fiddlers Green.
Saoirse Mhór, an Irishman from Kildare, moved to Germany in the early 1980s and founded Fleadh, which toured for a decade. This time he returns with a new band, Síolta, an Irish-German band that would not be out of place on the Irish stage. In Irish, Síolta means seeds, an evocative name for a band that refers to the Irish tradition in which each generation of musicians passes on their knowledge to the next.Apart from Saoirse, Síolta is a quintet of four Germans: Stefan Emde on fiddle, Brian Haitz on flute, Michael Busch on guitar and Thomas von Haefen on bass. They have just recorded a superb eponymous album rooted in the Irish tradition. Eleven tracks follow one another with energy, including five songs written by Saoirse except for the standard Lord Franklin, commemorating the demise of the Franklin expedition in 1845 and popularised by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Bothy Band. Saoirse’s songs are inspired by old ballads, linking the past with the present.  The tunes include Lake of Shadows by Moving Hearts, Leaving Uist by the Scottish musician Fred Morrison and The Air Tune by Liz Carroll. The traditional instruments of fiddle and flute create a timeless symbiosis with guitar, bass and percussion. The authenticity of the performance is real. Síolta’s music exudes a palpable musical joy. There is no doubt that the seeds sown by this band are ready to germinate.
Philippe Cousin

Songs For The Time Being
Own Label, 15 Tracks, 56 Minutes
This is the first volume in a double set of CDs, which will bring 33 of Paddy Madden’s songs into the public realm. Volume 1 provides us with 15 of his new compositions. His second volume is scheduled for a May 2022 release. He has assembled a cast of some 15 of Cork’s most famous and most accomplished musicians for this album, which was recorded in Blarney. Paddy is a veritable veteran with over 50 years playing Ireland’s genuine Southern rock, in fact his The Sunday Stroller has an opening tag that could have come from the Garth Brooks playbook..
Where I Am Now, is a pop love song, with backing vocals, harmonies in the chorus, “this is where I am now, it took a little time but we got here somehow”. Patrick Street Incident is a much more acoustic number, guitar and cello painting a picture of Cork’s most famous thoroughfare; the tenor of the song reminds me of the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset. Paddy almost talks his way into The Winds of Change, some nice patches of piano between the lines on the main verses here. Sometime in April is the slowest song on the album, a message for a loved one, wishing to share their dust together.
Last Train To Cork City includes the sound of the locomotive’s hooter, from the harmonica of Joe O’Callaghan (with whom Paddy has been making music since the late 1960s); catch the Tex-Mex middle eight on this one. The final track and the album’s title For The Time Being, is a gem of miniature literature, holding out the promise of even more jewels to come in Volume 2. Its inner ambiguity makes the listener think, ‘for the time being’, referring to the waiting time, awash with the angst of longing for something to happen, a lover to return, a family member to come back home.
With refugees on the move once again in Europe, this song could be a sad requiem for the times we are living through. As Paddy sings in the chorus: “Nothing ever stays the same, everything is changing.” And he gets that wisdom from his long career in music; he’s a veteran and a true Cork original.
For The Time Being, is a gem of miniature literature, holding out the promise of even more jewels to come in Volume 2.
Seán Laffey

The Lark’s Call
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 49 Minutes
Piper Tom Delany writes on his Bandcamp page this album was made with the intention of recalling the great Irish traditional musicians of the 1970s, and he doesn’t tell lies. His piping is fluid, influenced by the travelling styles of Johnny Doran, Paddy Keenan and Davy Spillane. There are exuberant yelps in tunes to highlight a passage or just simply to let us know how much fun he is having playing them. He takes up the whistle on John Joe Casey’s, Gus Jordan’s, Maudabawn Chapel, backed on bouzouki. You can hear the influence of Mary Bergin in this track, and I could only wonder at his stamina - the accuracy, and energy in the tunes would tax anyone’s lungs and fingers. Things are slowed down for the lament The Wounded Hussar, Tom exhibiting exceptional control over the higher notes on the chanter, played pure without a hint of vibrato. Another slow air Valentia Harbour sees Tom taking to the drones and regulators to colour the lament with such heartfelt pathos. He is accompanied by Alan Murray on guitar and bouzouki, Brian O’Loughlin on flute, Laura Kerr on fiddle, Conor Lyons on bodhrán, Camille Philippe on mandolin, and Caroline Keane on concertina.
There are brighter tunes; another whistle set on Micho Russel’s Cliff’s of Moher joined by an ensemble of bouzouki and bodhrán. The album ends with an old favourite of Kevin Burke’s, The Eavesdropper; here the opening salvo of a three-tune set that also includes The Morning Star and My Love Is In America, wild piping at its best here, as he summons the spirit of one of those bands that Kevin Burke had a hand in the 70’s. Delany brings us piping with a vintage feel, forever ageless. Like gold, the glint never goes off quality. If you aspire to pipes or bouzouki, this is a must have album.
Seán Laffey