Releases > Releases October 2018

Want to see earlier releases? Visit the archive.

Ó Mo Dhúchas/From my Tradition
Gael Linn CEFCD 191, 2 CDs, 26 Tracks, 99 Minutes
“Seosamh Ó hÉanaí was one of the greatest Conamara singers of his generation; many would say the greatest.” For a younger generation, that needs to be made clear right from the start, as it states on the cover of the double CD just released by Gael Linn: Ó Mo Dhúchas / From my Tradition.
This 2-CD set includes all the tracks from both of his solo albums with Gael Linn: Seosamh Ó hÉanaí (1971), and Ó Mo Dhúchas (1976). Seosamh was also widely known at home and abroad as Joe Heaney. He spent many years in Britain and the United States where his singing and storytelling introduced an appreciative new audience to Ireland’s heritage. He had great respect for the songs he was singing and he wouldn’t tolerate anyone speaking while he sang. His biographer, Liam Mac Con Iomaire said: “He would stop if they did that, but the fact was that he commanded, demanded and deserved respect. We have an expression in Connemara, ‘omós don amhrán’, respect for the song, no matter who’s singing.”
Several of the great songs for the sean-nós tradition are on the two CDs, and in the booklet accompanying them there is a wealth of information on Joe and the songs provided by that great scholar and broadcaster, Seán Mac Réamoinn. Joe’s voice was heard first on Gael Linn’s radio programme that ran on Raidió Éireann from 1953 for 27 years. Many of the songs he sang then are on the CDs and include, Caoineadh na dTrí Muire, Neainsín Bhán, Sadhbh Ní Bhruinnealaigh, and Amhrán na Trá Báine.
Joe was awarded the gold medal for sean-nós singing at the Oireachtas festival in 1955, and another singer of a very different sort, his good friend, Liam Clancy, said of him: “When he got immersed in a song, he became possessed by that song. And it was like he was a medium. It wasn’t an individual that was singing. It came out of everything that had gone before him. And anybody who ever watched him singing got that sense of not just the individual but the importance of what he had come from.”
Aidan O’Hara

Paddy Keenan
Gael Linn CEFCD045, 16 Tracks, 41 Minutes
Gael Linn are re-releasing a series of their classic recordings and when you discover who they had on their books in the 1970s you’ll agree this is essential listening. Twenty-five-year-old Paddy Keenan’s fame was copper-fastened when he joined the Bothy Band in the same year this album was first released. Back in 1975 there were probably less than a hundred pipers playing in Ireland with any regularity. Paddy’s music was highly regarded as can be seen in the critical analysis in the liner notes from no less an authority than Séamus Ennis.
It’s all here, the tight fingered wildness of The Steam Packet and McLeod’s Reel. The ensemble playing of the slip jig Drops of Brandy, a solo start in D, a shift to G as Paddy’s brothers John and Thomas join on the banjo and whistle. Thomas takes over with a solo whistle double jig, The Lark on the Strand; Ennis notes it was an unusual tune for its time. The first truly big number is The Humours of Ballyconneell/TossThe Feathers, with Paddy Glackin dueting on fiddle. Johnny Doran was a major inspiration to young Paddy; we hear that legacy on track 8 Coppers and Brass and the Rambling Pitchfork. Paddy’s regulator work is a study in itself.
The longest track is a slow air The Blackbird, transforming into a set dance. Here his skill and taste on the drones and regulators is evidence of a master at his work. The Wild Irish Man begins on solo chanter; the track closes with The Sailor’s Bonnet, adorned by a flurry of triplets on the banjo from Thomas Keenan. Paddy closes the album with Colonel Fraser and My Love is in America. No wonder when Dónal Lunny went looking for a piper for the Bothy Band, he beat a path to Paddy Keenan’s door.
Seán Laffey

The Gort Mile
Own Label BR001, 12 Tracks, 51 Minutes
The opening of Angela Usher’s album The Gort Mile comes as though you are invited into a session of music that has neither just begun, nor is about to end anytime soon, such is the gentle, relaxed nature of the opening tune The Love of Lucia.
As the album traverses its way through a carefully selected repertoire of the Manchester-Irish banjo player’s own traditional compositions woven with older tunes like The Trip to Durrow, Angela is playing her music as though nobody is listening, a music that exhales from her as natural as a breath. It is not by coincidence then, that I read in Mike Harding’s testimonial in the liner notes that he hears her music coming from that same special place as lyricised by the late Séamus Heaney in his poem The Given Note. The music and the approach indeed flows and comes from a special place, with a clarity and melodic flow peppered neatly with triplets that help to bounce tunes both new and traditional in one sphere. Tracks like Cillian’s Step recoils with all of the above superb qualities, nothing overstated or overdone, paving the way into the title track taking the low road of the banjo’s range, before going up high and back and around, never getting lost. It is this clarity which no doubt makes her a wonderful teacher of music and her teaching abilities are lauded in the liner notes in equal measure to her playing, by none other than her fellow Manchester sparring partner Michael McGoldrick, whose production of the album can be heard in the overall groove and feel.
With guest musicians like McGoldrick, Jim Murray, John Carty (who flew to Manchester especially to record the Barndance set after Angela heard John playing the tunes in Ennis) and her own family, The Gort Mile is a testament to a musician much respected for her playing and teaching, and indeed serves as an aide to both students of the banjo and lovers of Irish music.
Derek Copley

Castor Bay
Own label, 11 Tracks, 39 Minutes
A new album from siblings Barry (flute) and Laura (fiddle) who present 2 songs and 19 tunes arranged in 9 sets. They open with The Angry Peeler and Padraig O’Keefe’s slides, both learned in the Belfast session scene; the first is a tight duet between flute and fiddle until they are joined by the house band of Donogh Hennessy (guitar), Ryan O’Donnell (bouzouki) and Trevor Hutchinson (double bass).
Money In Every Pocket But Mine Own is a jaunty tune, which turns to a deliciously modal Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine. The set closes with a mystery; Tom McElvogue’s, which Tom has stated on line, lovely tune though it is, he cannot claim as his own.
Barry sings a Tyrone song, The Tern and the Swallow; the accompaniment is lyrical with understated washes of fiddle and a bell-like bouzouki running beneath the vocals. I’ll admit I have had this track on repeat; it’s too tasty for just one run at it.
There’s an echo of Matt Molloy on Barry’s own Dawn of Dara, before they move the action south to Brittany to close with Giles le Bigot’s Funamble. Laura is centre stage on The Tailors Thimble, a driving reel. There are three Armagh tunes The Chicken Gone To Scotland, Miss Chalmers, and Miss Elspeth Campbell. The pulse here has a Scottish lift, heavily rhythmic; they wouldn’t be out of place in Donegal or Cape Breton.
Laura coaxes a rich warm tone from her fiddle on Thomas Connellan’s Planxty Davis, a melody from the middle of the 17th century. There is another fine Tyrone song On Yonder Hill learned from the singing of Geordie Hanna. Finally Barry picks up the pipes on The Morning Dew and The Widow, a rousing end piece with all the sensibility and purpose of the Bothy Band in their pomp.
Castor Bay is a success on any level you can think of.
Seán Laffey

Gael Linn CEFCD 042, 15 Tracks, 41 Minutes
It’s well known that the back catalogue in Gael Linn contains a heap of treasures, and this retrospective collection must rank very high among them. Caitlín grew up in Rosmuc in Connemara, but like so many of her people, immigrated to London. But she returned to Dublin, and was involved in Gluaiseacht cearta sibhialta na Gaeilge, the Irish civil rights movement. She was known as a teacher, dramatist, poet, and an actor, but above all as a sean-nós singer. She was set fair to become the Joan Baez of Irish music with a similar remarkable purity of voice, when in 1982 she succumbed to cancer at the untimely age of 41. Her grave is in Bóthar na Bruíne just above Tallaght in west Dublin, but her finest monument is the all-Irish school nearby named in her memory.
The poetry notes for this album were written by Pearse Hutchinson: one poem entitled Love-Song of Vietnam gives the collection a historical anchor-point. The songs are classics of sean-nós: Donal Og, Róisin Dubh, An Bonán Bui, and Liam O Raghaille. Less familiar is An Sailchuach, a song in praise of a boat, which came from an aunt in America. As is usually the case with albums from Gael Linn, the liner notes contain the words to the songs, a help to scholars and a boon to singers. It’s worth the effort to look up Caitlín on YouTube. There is a fine interview she did with Seán Bán Breathnach where she asserts the worth and antiquity of the Language and its literature/ songs which she did so much to vindicate.
John Brophy

Forget Me Not
Traditional Irish Music on Fiddle and Flute
Own Label, 13 Tracks, 43 Minutes
Rose (Conway) Flanagan recently led a slow session at Catskills Irish Arts Week. Teenaged students, beginners in their 80s, and everything in between packed into McGrath’s to play with Rose, who called the tunes and led with confidence and clear rhythm. The sound was mighty; in part thanks to Rose’s fine leadership. Rose is also well known as one of the leaders of the Pearl River musicians in New York.
This sprightly CD, made with flutist Laura Byrne, another well-known player in the Northeast, captures the feel of a terrific session. It’s bouncy and fun and irresistible. Brendan Dolan accompanies on piano with Eamonn O’Leary on guitar. Though both have been featured on albums before, Rose on Cherish the Ladies (1985) and Craic in the Catskills (2011), and Laura on Tune for the Road (2005) and Crabs in the Skillet from the Old Bay Céilí Band (2011), this 2014 CD is their first together. It’s delicious.
Honestly, it’s kind of hard not to wiggle in your seat as Byrne tears into Bly’s, a jig she learned from Martin Mulvihill. And a set of barndances that end with If There Weren’t Any Women in the World has terrific lift. A standout is Sliabh Geal gCua Na Feile, a slow air written by Pádraig Ó Miléadha (1877, 1947), played with yearning by Byrne.
The liner notes tell us that the Irish lyrics express the longing of an exile for home in Ireland, and you can feel that in her playing. However, most of the CD is wonderfully jaunty. It’s hard to pick a favourite set, but Piper’s Despair/King of the Clans/Love at the Endings, that last tune by Ed Reavy, is a knockout.
Gwen Orel

Proper Music PRCD48, 15 Tracks, 71 Minutes
Banjophony by Damien O’Kane and Ron Block is an album of banjo music and that might scare some folks. But wait! Don’t stop reading yet! Give this album a chance. It won’t bite. It will excite! For despite the pre-emptive quips, which pepper the introduction in the liner notes, Banjophony is a proud, stand-tall album of banjo music.
It is also packed full of new compositions, carefully thought-out sets and a stellar cast of guest musicians, but it is essentially the sterling work of Damien O’Kane and Ron Block and their bringing together of two banjo attitudes.
Just like the motorised vehicle, the banjo in the wrong hands is an unforgiving, dangerous weapon. But O’Kane, on tenor and Block, on five-string, know how to drive a banjo. In their hands, Irish and bluegrass make the journey, like the distant cousins they are, to meet in the middle and blend their styles. Battersea Skillet Liquor is just that, the title hinting at the seminal string band The Skillet Lickers, as is the opening track Miller’s Gin/Potato Anxiety, the first in the set sounding as though it has roots in the old time ‘Johnson Boys’ before veering off in a different direction.
As in the opening track and indeed across the album, the subtle differences between tenor and five-string draw you closer to listen carefully, for although these are two completely different instruments to play, both players’ styles lend to the other with such grace and complement as to blend seamlessly across the vast terrain of Banjophony.
Take Damien’s tune Phoebe or The Trip to Portugal, on which the directness of the tenor is accompanied by chordal runs and harmonic pings on the five-string, with noted appreciation of the five-string’s 6/8 abilities. The crossover of the two instruments and how they accent each other, is the prime purpose of the album, but as well as this, it is packed with modern contemporary tunes, like O’Kane’s Brown Eyes (for wife Kate Rusby) or Block’s Leiper’s Fork, the latter allowing for a bluegrass circle to form as Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan and Steven Byrnes all trade licks around O’Kane and Block.
Banjophony is in equal parts a driving banjo album, as well as full of sweet, subtle moments of carefully arranged pieces, accompanied by a fine cast of stellar guest musicians.
Derek Copley

The Railway
Own Label SRCD02, 15 Tracks, 46 Minutes
A second concept album from multi-instrumentalist Hamish Napier follows on from his excellent 2016 release The River. This one was inspired by the Speyside railway line, closed in the 1960s but still part of the landscape and history of Strathspey. It also continues the theme of beautiful monochrome drawings on three panels of the CD cover.
The Railway was written by Hamish, with two songs by his brother Findlay, and tells the stories in words and music of the people, the engines and the bustling stations in the hundred years from 1863 until Beeching’s cuts put an end to the Speyside line.
Based on the reminiscences of three old railwaymen now in their nineties, and on archive material provided by local museums and railway societies, many pieces here have stories attached: Jocky the Mole about the races through the valley between Highland Line and Great North Railway engines, Up the Hill describing the steep climb up to Drumochter Summit, the highest point on the rail network, and the lovely air Helen’s Song paying homage to driver Jimmy Gray’s wife and their 63 years of marriage. Other numbers are just great music, whatever their inspiration: the delightful slip jig Cheery Groove, the relaxed pipe march The Old Ways, and the lively syncopated reel The Hiker. Flute and whistle, pipes and fiddle, piano and drums and guitar, there’s a full and varied sound from the opening travelogue The Speyside Line to the final bittersweet Railwayman Suite. With fine sleeve notes, atmospheric old photographs, many railway sound effects and a crew of Scotland’s finest musicians, The Railway is a compelling and dramatic album, standing on its merits as a piece of contemporary folk music, but also a fascinating connection to the past and to a world, which is all but lost. You can almost taste the smoke and cinders at times. This is certainly one of the best Scottish CDs of 2018.
Alex Monaghan

The Golden Book
Own Label, 3 Tracks, 15 Minutes
Contemporary folk songs with a soulful aspect from a Cork based young song-writer. This EP draws you in immediately. I couldn’t decide which was most compelling, Sinéad Murphy’s voice, or the depth and quality of her songs. Her voice wraps itself so beautifully around her own lyrics that it’s both impossible and unnecessary to untangle that. And, contradictory as it might sound, remarkable vocal clarity mixed with a smokiness in tone, a voice that needs to be heard.
A degree Graduate from the prestigious Cork School of Music, where Sinéad specialised in vocal studies and songwriting. She accompanies herself on piano and guitar, joined by nine talented musicians. Final Night spools out like a story in lyrics enhanced by appealing melody. A nod to the best of Nashville underpinned with Sinéad’s authentic folk sound. Old Church Street is powerful. Soaked in loss, touched with love of place, Athenry as it happens, and lifted with hope. A lovely simplicity in her tempo, like an achingly slow walk homewards toward some reconnection. But a (marvellous) and subtly dark complexity also; lyrics that leave you wondering about a ghostly shadow, but also hope, possibility, and a sense of lots more to be heard.
Deirdre Cronin

Edge of the Bow, Own Label, 13 Tracks, 62 Minutes
This young fiddler from the northeastern USA is equally at home in Irish or Scottish styles, and apparently plays a mean gypsy violin although there’s none of that exoticism here. Edge of the Bow is a debut album of prodigious skill, and at over an hour there’s space for both Celtic strands.
Starting with the Scots, Seán delivers Hebridean airs and Cape Breton reels, strathspeys from the golden age of 18th century Perthshire fiddling, pipe tunes and song airs with aplomb, and finally the established showpiece pairing of The Dean Brig and The Banks Hornpipe. There’s nothing stilted or overly formal about his performances: he gets to the heart of each tune and brings it alive with just the right amount of traditional ornamentation.
Miss Lyall’s is a fine example, an ancient reel played for dancing in Cape Breton and given a wild travelling interpretation here. It’s followed by the achingly beautiful Calum Sgaire in a version recorded by Alasdair Fraser on his Return to Kintail CD: young Mr Heely runs him a close second here. The second part of Edge of the Bow moves to Ireland, starting in Donegal with a medley of highlands and reels a whisker away from Scottish music. The jig Paddy O’Rafferty is known all over Ireland: this version draws on Kevin Burke, the famous Irish fiddler from London and Oregon. Next comes a set of Kerry tunes, jigs and polkas, and then two reels by Paddy Fahey and Ed Reavy, the first slow and soulful, the second fast and funky. Heely uses this track to acknowledge Liz Carroll and Martin Hayes who have been mentors in his journey with the fiddle.
Zan McLeod’s guitar provides accompaniment along with a good handful of other musicians, but Heely’s fiddle is always on top.The last selection of hornpipe and reels comes from the Irish scene of Washington DC, which is a thriving place for Celtic music. This is a hugely entertaining collection of music, and a great introduction to a fiddler who should make quite a name for himself in the next few years.
Alex Monaghan

Irish Music on the Harpsichord
CKCD004 14 Tracks, 50 Minutes Email:
Concertina ace Claire Keville is a radio presenter, teacher and a stalwart of the Willie Clancy Summer School. Here she plays a harpsichord, kindly supplied by Michael Shields, an early music expert living in Galway. Seán Ó Riada declared that the harpsichord was the sound nearest to the wire-strung harp of the native Irish, and made the point with the album O Riada sa Ghaiety.
Now some fifty years later comes Irish Music on the Harpsichord. Here Claire has picked tunes from the beginning and the end of the 17th century, two from John Dowland and three from Turlough O’Carolan. She matches them with five of her own compositions and in doing so has created a four-hundred year perspective on the Harpsichord in Irish music.
The album opens with John Dowland’s White as Lilies Was Her Face, composed for voice and lute around 1600, a stately complaint on being spurned. The balance is made up with four traditional tunes.
Claire rightly demonstrates that the harpsichord with its resonance from its bass strings, offers fine possibilities: captured perfectly in track twelve, two compositions from the George Petrie collection (1855) including the wonderfully titled The Dublin Street Singers’ Chant combined with her own Whitewash the Frescoes. She also has two tunes about bells, The Friary Bell and The Bell Tower in reference to the Ross Errily Friary in Headford, County Galway. There’s a long meditation on what might have been in Irish history in The Harper’s Journey, with pauses to emphasise the steps taken.
Liam Lewis on fiddle features on two tracks; O’Carolan’s Mabel Kelly, which is a great example of how well the two instruments can blend together. Then at the final section of track five Liam Lewis plays a solo version of Bill the Weaver’s jig, connecting the album to modern traditional dance music.
Harpsichords are rare; there really isn’t an entry level instrument on the market and that fact alone shows the importance of this album, both in terms of highlighting a rarely heard Irish repertoire for the Harpsichord and subsequently exploring other ways to present and construct Irish music. This album is a fine pointer to what can be achieved when
musicians from the tradition get access to authentic resources and then approach the task of music making with innate sensitivity.
John Brophy

What’s Next?
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 53 Minutes
Languid fiddle music and song from County Clare, Eimear Arkins’ debut album follows from a long career of competing and performing all around the world. What’s Next? is made up of two part song and one part tunes, which is a lot, more singing than I usually review , but Eimear’s voice is so natural and pleasant that it’s no hardship to listen. She sings in both English and Irish, classic ballads and comic ditties, big songs like Slán le Máigh or Úna Dheas Ní Niadh, and old favourites An Spailpín Fánach and The May Morning Dew.  I hadn’t heard John Fitzgerald’s Sweet Inniscarra before, an exile’s lament for rural Cork, or Fair of Sixmilebridge, which praises a Clare market town. Eimear sings all these and more at a measured pace, with some great expression, and I’m sure as she matures her wit and character will increasingly put their stamp on her songs. You can hear the influence of fine singers Deirdre Scanlon and Nora Butler Swan in An Buachailín Donn and Ballyconnell Fair.
The four sets of fiddle tunes here are a mix of Clare and Sligo/Leitrim traditions, with one of Eimear’s own, a gutsy jig, which provides the CD title and passes smoothly into Garret Barry’s. The reels Glen of Aherlow, Miss Langford’s and Callaghan’s are similarly smooth, contrasting with the jaunty hornpipe Father Bernie’s and Ms Arkins’ driving version of Maudabawn Chapel. The final slip jig and reel (not a song this time) brings us back to Clare music and a lovely flowing fiddle style, tastefully accompanied as are several tracks here: a fine end to a most promising debut recording.
Alex Monaghan

A Place That’s Home
Own label, 14 Tracks, 54 Minutes
Music,’tis well known, runs in families: the famed Bachs, including JS and sons, went on over nine generations. The piping Rowsomes aren’t far behind, and still motoring, and here comes John O’Neill ready with his own dynasty at Donaghmore near Dungannon in Tyrone.
John was a founding member of the Old Cross Céili Band, which morphed into The Country Flavour, and probably left a few tunes behind in the changeover. On this very fine recording we see him pay homage to his traditional roots, enabled by his talented children and grandchildren.
John is a very natty box player with fine repertoire; from the style and approach, you’d know that he could herd a thousand dancers in the Galtymore, or any other place from there to Dingle, and probably did in his time. The tunes too are worth learning: John Brady’s; The Star of Kilkenny; Down the Broom and the Yellow Tinker. Especially notable are the brace of marches, which used to be essential at Céili functions to break the ice (socially).
From the younger generation there come songs like True Colours; The Blackbird and Lough Erne Shore. There are plaintive versions of the Holy Ground and the self-penned A Place That’s Home. In all, this is a well- considered and varied album, featuring very talented performers who have amassed a haul of awards, up to and including All-Ireland titles. The tasteful accompaniment by Seán Og Graham, Brian McGrath, Gerdy Thompson and Plunkett McGartland completes what can best be described as a very rewarding listening experience.
It’s a bonus that there is reference to the Wednesday night session in John O’Neill’s local, Quinn’s Corner and the recording does capture some of the atmosphere, which in itself is a fine achievement. Hang in there, John, you’re good for another generation or two.
John Brophy

Irish Harmonica
Own Label, 12 Tracks, 47 Minutes
A man of many talents, Joel Andersson is a world-class harmonica player and maker from Sweden who has focused on Irish traditional music for the past decade or so. Here he plays in a pretty straight traditional style, much more Pip Murphy than Brendan Power, but his technique is outstanding. Although there’s little blues influence on this album, Joel plays in octaves and provides rhythmic accompaniment while pushing out a powerful melody line. According to the CD cover, every track was recorded in a single take, with no edits, and what you hear is one man and his harmonica throughout, which makes this music even more impressive.
There are different harmonicas on different tracks, of course, and sometimes on the same track. The iconic Trip to Cullenstown is a nice example of a switch between tunes. Other classic reels include The Galtee Rangers, The Tarbolton, Maids of Mount Cisco and the currently popular Callaghan’s. Big jigs aren’t lacking either: Paddy Clancy’s, The Cordal Jig, Whelan’s and more are played with skill and flair. The delicacy in Andersson’s performance of Carolan’s Welcome is awe-inspiring, especially as he slots it in after a few rollicking Sliabh Luachra slides and polkas. When he does cut loose in a bluesier style for O’Farrell’s Welcome after Rick Epping, the effect is such a dramatic contrast.
From Martin Rochford’s Cliffs of Moher to the final Lord Ramsey’s Reel, this recording is a real eye-opener on the capabilities of solo harmonica in Irish music.
Alex Monaghan

General Humbert II
Gael Linn CEFCD 095 (Re-issue), 10 Tracks, 35 Minutes
General Humbert was a respected traditional/folk band with their heyday in the late 1970s, perhaps best known as the launch-pad for singer Mary Black’s solo career, and she is undoubtedly the star of the show on this re-issued album, their second offering following their eponymous debut release in 1975. The album also marks the inclusion of a very young Vinnie Kilduff on flute, pipes and whistles, joining guitarist Shay Kavanagh (who went on to join the Dublin City Ramblers) and mandolin/harmonium player John Donegan.
The band displays an additional maturity developed from a few years of touring, and as well as providing excellent song accompaniment, they are well able to hold their own on instrumental sets, with some nice arrangements on the selections included here, including Mary Black playing an energetic bodhrán at times. There’s a nice variety to the tunes and a willingness to explore new territory at times. Song arrangements are uncluttered and showcase Black’s undoubted vocal excellence to good effect. Three of the five songs included here are in Irish, with the beautifully arranged opener Amhrán Pheter Baille, a haunting ballad called Duilleoga, and a nice reading of Mo Ghile Mear; an undoubted highlight is a lovely version of Fare Thee Well, My Own True Love.
Producer Nicky Ryan and engineer Philip Begley get a very clear recorded sound, displaying their strong understanding of how best to record traditional instruments, so this album is a real treat, an unexpected bonus being the inclusion of fiddler Kevin Glackin on a lively set of reels.
Mark Lysaght

Own Label, 12 Tracks, 54 Minutes
Tallymoore are based in Milwaukee, a town that knows a thing or two about Irish music. While this album does not give us much in the way of new music it is an excellent collection of golden songs, many of which Tallymoore breathe new life into with new arrangements.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the opening track Step It Out Mary. In fact I thought I had cued the wrong track when I started to review the album because of the rather unusual instrumental intro that I heard. The track itself continued with the familiar lyrics given a very lively treatment that had the blood pulsing. McColl’s Dirty Old Town gets a similar makeover. It may not be a favourite with the purists or the fans of the original recording but it certainly bears close listening especially for the exuberant fiddle playing that underlies the lyrics. The only track on offer that I had not heard before was a spirited rendition of a song called I’m a Tommy Makem Man that is a well deserved tribute to the great man that sounds very sincere and will resonate with anyone who saw him in person or even on television. Another lesser-known track is The Sons of Molly Maguire, by Chuck Rogers of The Irish Balladeers. It is a powerful story song that is well delivered and a song that deserves a much wider audience.  A particular favourite song of mine is the Mingulay Boat Song and I am always a bit wary of new treatments. I need not have feared because although they give a completely new treatment to the standard they make it “my new favourite” version.
They perform similar magic with standards like Black is the Colour and Red is the Rose. I suppose what they are doing is taking songs and tunes we are oh so familiar with and revising and revamping them for the 21st century. It is a dangerous job but then it is how most of our current “standards” evolved from their original time of composition.
Over the dozen tracks on offer here Tallymoore show themselves very brave in giving the familiar a new rendition and thankfully they succeed without any loss of integrity. Check out the track listing and put aside preconceptions. Listen with an open heart and you will have a very pleasurable experience.
Nicky Rossiter

Wandering Albatross
Brechin All Records CDBAR032
12 Tracks, 60 Minutes
Andrew Mill belongs to a genre of singers with voices that are distinctive, not for the sweetness of their singing, but for some ineffable appeal that warms listeners to them, as much for their songs and a commitment to their unique style as for their unusual voices. One thinks of Ronnie Drew, Leonard Cohen, Louis Armstrong, and Shane MacGowan among others. Andrew, from Edinburgh but now living in Glasgow, adds to his man-in-the-street vocal renderings with his choice of song material.
Before we hear him at all, the song titles themselves provide us with a clear enough picture of what to expect, and the CD notes refer to “Andrew’s unique tragicomic song-writing style” that “captures the quirky elements of life everywhere”: Blue Is The Colour Of His Ex-Lover’s Heart the story of a disappointed lover, The Pigeon & The Lawnmower in which the jealous bird attacks the machine and there’s blood and feathers everywhere, Pissing In The Sink, which is always cleaned out to prepare meals, and Sing Me A Lovesong Where Nobody Dies, written “For all the musicians that played on this record”.
This is Andrew’s second CD from Brechin All Records whose owner is musician Sandy Brechin about whom I have written in the past and his wicked sense of humour that matches Andrew’s for far-out ideas and expressions. Most of the songs are Andrew’s but others are by his friend “the extraordinary poet from Nairn, Donald Ker, with music specially composed for them by Andrew”. The CD “was recorded absolutely live around a pair of 1950s ribbon mics over five days in a snowed-in cottage in the Scottish Borders, and features some of Scotland’s finest musicians, including Ciarán Ryan (fiddle/mandolin), Davy O’Neil (double bass), Tracey Muir (fiddle/vocals), Sean Thomson (telecaster/mandolin/banjo/vocals), Paddy Coyle (telecaster/drums), Gary Rafferty (Stratocaster/tenor banjo) and label-owner Sandy Brechin (accordion)”. It all works.
Aidan O’Hara