Releases > Releases October 2022

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Live & Plugged In
Own label, 11 Tracks, 48 Minutes
The Moxie Strings is Diana Ladio (5-string violin) and Alison Lynn (electric cello). The dynamic duo gives listeners a small taste of their on-stage energy in their fifth yet first live album, Live & Plugged In. What sets the performance-and-music-education-degreed team apart from other music groups is that they both entertain audiences and teach youth about transforming cultural styles (folk, trad, pop, classical, jazz) into creative and eclectic electronic formats.
The 11-track album includes a few tunes from their previous studio albums. The remaining cuts create a combo of originals, covers, and traditional tunes. Live & Plugged In opens with We Sail at Dawn, a bouncy Celtish original set to driving rhythms. Featherbone—another original—evokes an ethereal fairy dance. Shifting gears, the duo digs into their version of Eurythmic’s Sweet Dreams before stepping down a notch to an air titled Remembering S.C.
Smile On 3 Feet Deep plays with inverted variations on The Kesh, which perfectly segues into renditions of familiar tunes [Ships Are Sailing/Banshee/Frank’s Reel] in Trad Set. The duo mix Celtic, jazz, and hand-clapping folk in their playfully innovative Dive In, Go Swimming, followed by another beautiful air they titled Airport.
The Moxie Strings break into their unforgettable version of the highly popular New England Catharsis (Amy Cann), followed by their spirited Celtic original, Ramnee Ceilidh before drawing their concert to a close with a grungy interpretation of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
The Moxie Strings are exceedingly inventive and are bound to make massive waves internationally!
Anita Lock

Black Brook
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 41 Minutes
Black Brook, Moynihan’s latest album, is named after a river Lee tributary in Cork City and reflects the diverse musical paths that created their unique sound. Comprised of Deirdre (vocals, fiddle, viola), Donncha (guitars, bouzouki, percussion), and Diarmaid (uilleann pipes, whistles, low whistle), Moynihan, the trio, are joined by special guests Liam Ó Maonlaí (vocals, piano, Hothouse Flowers) and Martin Leahy (drums).
Striking vocal harmonies stand out in Moynihan’s arrangement of Aird Uí Chuain (The Quiet Land of Erin). A spirited set of trad and original reels follows in The Flooded Road to Glenties/An Bhean Rua/The Sweet Tin. Swaying waltzes with a syncopated-reel finish perfectly captures the magical and sinister elements of the Gearagh in Deirdre’s An Gaorthadh and The Bowline 1 & 2.
The trio delivers a moving rendition of Silent, Oh Moyle before presenting a traditional-reel-turned-jig (The Lads of Laois) and an original (The Explorer) and traditional Miss McLeod’s. Donncha’s meditative Follow the Mariner commemorates family and Mariner 9, while Farewell, Farewell rejuvenates a well-loved Fairport Convention song.
The Angry Peeler/This is My Love Do You Like Her/Elizabeth Kelly’s includes toe-tapping traditional jigs and a slip jig. Deirdre penned Watching the Waves after an awe-inspiring view of ocean waves against the backdrop of MacGillycuddy Reeks. Black Brook comes to a close with a lively set of trad reels (The Four Leaf Shamrock/The Game of Love/Aughamore) before concluding with a haunting version of An Raibh tú ag an gCarraig (Were you at the Rock?).
Moynihan’s award-winning talent takes listeners to a refreshingly new level in traditional Irish music.
Anita Lock

Round 2
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 42 Minutes
It’s seconds out as the pugilistic metaphor heralds a new album from the young West of Ireland Boxing Banjo. Before the pandemic they were breaking into the American festival scene, becoming immensely popular with their energetic music and crowd-pleasing stagecraft. The good news is they are back with this high-quality album of traditional tunes and contemporary songs. The CD itself looks like an old vinyl disc, and the CD cover seems to be influenced by the work of Waterford based Gotfried Helnwein.
Bright Side of the Moon is a mash up of blues, driven trad and jazzy fiddle breaks. This is followed by a solid batch of traditional tunes, The Beare Island Set, with the box of Dara Healy sparring with brother Mick on the banjo. They then swing into the American old-timey tune Whiskey Before Breakfast, Dara Healy leading a section of improvisations, the runs from Mick Healy’s banjo taking on a twenties jazz shuffle.
Songs range from Bob Dylan’s Kansas City, to the traditional Star of the County Down (I dare you not to clap along to that one). They take us in to the world of Irish mythology on the song Diarmuid and Gráinne, this brings the tempo of the album down a couple of notches, the vocals and harmonies filling the air space, one to revisit often. “Get up get down” is a phrase that rings out on The Road, a song that draws on their life on the live circuit. The album closes with a set of spirited traditional tunes, Pleckin About.
The lads are spending the summer of 2022 taking this album around the USA, they’ll be atomic by the time they get back to the Wild Atlantic Way. Round Two is a knockout.
Seán Laffey

Live Music from Sliabh Luachra
Sliabh Luachra, 8 Tracks, 32 Minutes
Pat Fleming is steeped in the Sliabh Luachra tradition, and has an enviable reputation as one of the very best exponents of this style on accordion and melodeon. This impressive live album was recorded at the CYMS Hall in Newmarket, Co. Cork earlier this year, and what better way to capture Pat’s beautiful playing, augmented by an impressive group of musicians comprising his wife Maria Cotter on fiddle, Tom Browne on bouzouki, Gary O’Brien on guitar with Timmy O’Connor on melodeon and accordion.
Unsurprisingly, the selections are predominantly polkas and slides. They launch into an initially relaxed set of polkas to start with Marie’s Wedding followed by Callaghan’s, finishing with Padraig O’Keeffe’s, gradually building up the pace and rhythm organically so that they’re moving through the gears without losing the beauty of the tunes. Pat has a steady style with total respect for the authenticity of the classic tunes, also including some more recent material such as three tunes composed by Timmy O’Connor.
Maria Cotter provides an excellent foil and the fiddle merges precisely with Pat’s playing, so important when delivering ensemble performances, obviously something they’ve built up over many years, and Timmy O’Connor also contributes hugely to the effectiveness of the delivery. Similarly, the accompaniment is well-organised and always empathetic, particularly important when accompanying highly syncopated tunes. It’s effective, yet never over-prominent or dominant, providing a perfect support to the melody players.
A nice set of reels, Within a Mile of Dublin / Johnny Allen’s / Tom Billy’s I found particularly enjoyable, nicely paced and well executed. Similarly, a lively set of polkas: The Cascade / Billy Mahony’s / The One I Know (the first and last of these composed by Timmy O’Connor) highlights the abilities of all these wonderful musicians. A real treat for all Sliabh Luachra fans.
Mark Lysaght

Own Label MHRCD006, 11 Tracks, 40 Minutes
The recent resurgence of Manx music has been mainly an instrumental affair - like Irish and Scots Gaelic, it’s much quicker to absorb the tunes than to learn the language. Manx song is a bit different: in this language, a revival has produced a growing number of new speakers, its songs collected long since and added to by contemporary composers.
Lossan presents a wide selection, from the unaccompanied Arrane Saveenagh to the richly arranged Keayrt Hug Mee Graih. There are also two instrumental tracks on solo harp from Rachel, jigs and a slow air, as well as numerous instrumental interludes featuring Adam Brown on bodhrán, Adam Rhodes on bouzouki and Isla Callister on fiddle, which inject a touch of Irish and Scots tradition into this mainly Manx recording.
The Manx language benefits from a relatively sane orthography so the titles of many pieces here need no translation. The character of the oral language, at least in the mouth of Ruth Keggin, is somewhere between Irish and Welsh to my ears: very pleasant listening, and beautifully sung here. Mish as y Keayn would be “Mise is an cuan” in Scots Gaelic, a song by contemporary Manx poet Annie Kissack. It’s followed by a melody familiar from the Irish tradition as The Eagle’s Whistle and in American oldtime as Seneca Squaredance, set to Manx words. Ny Kirree Fo Niaghtey or The Sheep Under the Snow is perhaps the most familiar Manx melody, and like the following song Eubonia Soilshagh it dates from the 1600s.
The final Arrane Oie Vie, or “Amhrán Oíche Mhaith” in Irish, ends this album with a gentle but satisfying song of parting.
Alex Monaghan

Appel Rekords APR1502, 17 Tracks, 61 Minutes
Michel Terlinck builds and plays Hommels, and there are chromatic and diatonic versions on this fascinating album. Hommels is the Flemish name for a bumble bee, and the buzzing drone is a key characteristic of this family of European strummed dulcimers, table top drone zithers if you like.
Michel is joined by Thomas Hoste on alto Hurdy Gurdy adding even more buzz to this recording. Guido De Meester joins Michel on Hommels for a number of duets, percussionist Johan De Baedts and baglama player Cumali Bulduk move the sound to the orient. The bass end of the spectrum is covered by Ann Van Hecke on cello. This is the second Hommels album from Michel, the first came out 26 years ago. In the interim he has written new music for the instruments, and a dozen of the tracks here are his own compositions.
If you like strings you’ll be fascinated with this album. The sound is resonant but generally very gentle, the rhythms tied to old dances, even the newer compositions would work over a Pieter Bruegel montage.
The album consists of two suites between which are sandwiched two tracks with another section of tracks after the second suite. The opening tune of the first suite is Gang Der Analogieen. It instantly got me thinking of Ewan MacColl’s Tunnel Tigers. Things move east on track 7 with the Turkish baglama, on Sultan Kim Oldu Semahi Ve Suru. The link here is to its composer and Saz player Ardil Arslan, the Brussels based Turkish musician with whom Michel has worked for the past 25 years.
The first suite dates from 2007-2008, the second composed on the chromatic Hommels was written between 1996 and 1976. The album notes are excellent, with musicians and instruments fully credited, even the keys are named. The system is the European tonic Sol- Fa, which when mastered is an excellent way to learn by ear.
If you are used to the Appalachian dulcimer, Michel Terlinck will introduce you to a bunch of its European ancestors. It will be a whole new family of music for you.
Seán Laffey

Energy Islands
FARA 003, 12 Tracks, 57 Minutes
New music from the Orkneys, the archipelago on Scotland’s North West coast, where tides, wind and hydro turbines are making surplus energy for the National grid. Hence the title and the running theme throughout this powerhouse album.
Fara are three female fiddlers: Jeana Leslie, Catriona Price and Kristan Harvey, all of whom double up on vocals, with Rory Matheson on piano who hails from the Highlands.
They reference Orkney in the opening track’s selection of new tunes, collectively called Solar; the tunes are Sunkiss /The Witch o’ Summerdale and The Battle o’ Summerdale. The last pitched battle fought in Orkney was in 1529 in Summerdale. Even on an island bursting with 21st century technology, history holds strong.
The Hampshire, tones down the mood, almost a lament, it is certainly plaintive. HMS Hampshire, left a stormy Scapa Flow on June 5th 1916 to steam to Russia. It hit a mine on Marwick Head, sinking within 15 minutes with the loss of 737 lives, including the famous poster boy from Ballylongford County Kerry, Lord Kitchener.
Rory Matheson’s piano is prominent on a number of tracks, establishing both tempo and the narrative arc, capriciously playful on Solar. Becoming a foil to the Scandinavian shift that occurs as Broom Power moves into a fiddle dominated closing third. The piano runs over the wordless choral on the opening of Merry Dancers, a song about the Aurora Borealis, which we are informed, can be seen from the back door of many an Orcadian cottage.
Some of Fara’s songs are derived from the work of Orcadian poets, Song in the Night from a work by Duncan J. Robertson and Northerner; they compose an emotional soundscape to the words of film-maker and poet Margaret Tait.
On West Tide Story there’s a deliberate pulse from the fiddle. More fiddle this time right from the get go on White Horse Power. The penultimate track is Excess Electric; it’s a slow starter, the melody building towards a lush ending. The final track in contrast is calmer, one of the fiddles is plucked not bowed, suggesting a land of perpetual energy, happily giving its excess for the common good.
A thematic masterpiece from an island and a band awash with talent.
Seán Laffey

Flight Paths
Eighth Nerve 8NERVE010, 9 Tracks, 44 Minutes
Two experienced duos (what is it with Scandinavia?!) have formed a powerful team to present a concoction of Celtic, Finnish, Swedish and contemporary Nordic styles. Fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers (Scotland) and guitarist Juhani Silvola (Finland) reside in Norway, while fiddler Bridget Marsden and accordionist Leif Ottosson represent a combination of England and Sweden. The siskin was chosen as a symbol of migration between the Celtic and Scandinavian worlds, a better name than SLJB or BLJS!
Twin fiddles, guitar and accordion paint a broad picture on Flight Paths: the opening Peewit is rooted in Summers’ Scottish highland fiddle tradition, April Rain is a polska from Marsden, Eagle Huntress was inspired by a Mongolian story but Ottosson’s interpretation seems to me to land somewhere in the Saami tundra, and Silvola’s Albatrossi draws on contemporary guitar styles to evoke the gliding oceanic flight of a rather larger bird than the little siskin.
In between are more avian references in the folk-rock Americana of Firefinch and the Scots-style title track, plus the stately accordion waltz Midnattssol, the meditative mood poem Morning Green by Marsden and the joyous bounding Time Flies dance tune by Ottosson. All the material on this debut album was written by Siskin Quartet members, arranged and played collectively with no guests and just a touch of tuneful crooning to support their instruments.
Flight Paths is a full-on, vibrant, varied and very accomplished recording from four stellar musicians whose conjunction deserves to be celebrated.
Alex Monaghan

Falling Light
Longshore Drift, 12 Tracks, 31 Minutes
English folk singer and musician Phil Langran’s new album Falling Light has eleven original compositions. He is an astute observer of his own life path and the paths of others, documenting in verse and song how the complexities, the twists and turns of human existence are an intrigue. There is kindness and forgiveness in the lyrics, maturity, sincerity in the vocals.
Produced by Boo Hewerdine and Chris Pepper at Saltwell Studio, Cambridgeshire, a quiet, intimate mood is achieved, with themes around love, loss, regret, redemption.
Love on the Line is a relationship explored, the singer “lost in the questions and answers”, thinking about songs, “songs about loving and leaving”, The Walking Song is also a love song, the man wondering “however on earth did the stars align”, celebrating a couples’ special place, “as the fields fall down to the sea, the road my love and thee”, with brilliant guitar accompaniment.
There’s something mythical, magical perhaps, in Alice Wynter, a tribute to a woman who “walked the shores from night to morning”, a delightfully catchy tune, the character wandering under “a bloodshot moon that hung from the heavens”.
Dunmanus Bay is outstanding, a short song, a personal glimpse, regret perhaps, the writer “was ever the dreaming kind”, a sense of longing for greener pastures but the bay held him captive, when “the breakers heard my foolish words”, superb guitar accompaniment and a lovely lonesome fiddle, accentuate the melancholic lines, “I watch the tears all down the years across Dunmanus Bay”.
The lonesome fiddle and sparse guitar also make rich accompaniment for Repair the Heart, a gentle meditative piece, a prayerful instruction to cure heartache, anguish, offer of respite in “a safe retreat to light the dark, a single breath, a safety net”, and to celebrate “the gift of being”.
Anne Marie Kennedy

Own Label, 12 Tracks, 45 Minutes
Sue Harding is an English singer-songwriter who has been involved in music from an early age, while working most of her life as a teacher. This is her second solo album, a follow-up to her debut release, Flight, released in 2016. All the songs her are original, delivered primarily with her distinctive vocal style, which, although reminiscent of a number of other singers, is quite difficult to classify.
She accompanies herself on acoustic guitar and additional percussion, guitar and keyboards is provided by Josh Clark (sound engineer for Kate Rusby) who also recorded, mixed and mastered the recording. The songs are firmly rooted in the folk/roots tradition, and Sue’s lyrics are very well-structured, each song evoking a particular mood, which is enhanced by Josh Clark’s brilliant use of ambient sounds and additional effects, including clever use of cymbals. She evokes images of very English surroundings and settings, using her deep knowledge of Victorian poetry (the title is a reference from a Matthew Arnold poem) to evoke a sense of times past, with themes of loss, redemption, hope and joy.
The opener Clovelly, named after the picturesque privately owned Devon village, begins with some wave effects and as the song develops, the theme is augmented by some beautiful cello playing from guest player Beth Porter. Fallen was written with poetic inspiration for John Milton, again the lyrics are very evocative. New Moon references a feeling of rebirth and rejuvenation, here she varies her finger-picking approach with use of strumming. Catherine Street was written during lockdown, with reference to Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalott.
Old Smokey’s Lullaby has some tasteful instrumental effects including Americana guitar, and A Dark & Breathing Space uses moths as a metaphor for desire; the music is atmospheric and evocative. Overall, an interesting and thought-provoking set of songs from a highly individual performer.
Mark Lysaght

Gracious Wings
Needle Pin Records, 11 Tracks, 47 Minutes
Jackie Oates is an English folk singer originally from Cheshire, but now based in Oxfordshire, where she has teamed up with the famous melodeon and concertina player John Spiers. Guest musicians are Mike Cosgrave (accordion, piano, guitar, mandolin), John Parker (double bass), Megan Henwood (guitar, vocals) and Jon Wilks (guitar).
Jackie plays fiddle and is versatile with the bow, she sings and plays simultaneously, turning her hand to English, continental and Celtic tunes with a deft assurance. The album is a mix of traditional songs and her own compositions which work together into a sonic jigsaw.
She opens with the broadside ballad When I was a Fair Maid, where a cross-dressing girl becomes a drummer in the army; when she is discovered her fortune is made. A Scottish nursery rhyme about a cheerful two year old called Tommy Toddles, gives Jackie the platform to show us what she can do with a Celtic fiddle, it’s impressive. Things are much darker on Ship In Distress, a tale of near cannibalism, as mariners are adrift on the ocean. Based on a true story from 16th century Portugal, the song was a favourite of ballad sellers in the 19th century, not as macabre as the painting The Wreck of the Medusa, but very nearly so.
Jackie is now in her thirties, yet her voice is as youthful as it was on her debut album made in 2006. And you might be intrigued by the album’s title: Gracious Wings refers to Greek mythology, and the harpy, half woman half bird who asks the dead to retell scenes from their living lives. If the harpy is charmed by their veracity the soul can become one with the universe.
It is clear that Jackie Oates is at one with folk song, whether it be from the 18th century or a more modern reflection on the plight of the marginalized on the last track Tom Wait’s Time Time Time.
A variety pack for sure, but nowhere does Jackie take her eye off the ball. Every track would impress a curious harpy, they surely impressed me.
Seán Laffey