Releases > Releases September 2016

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Beyond the Bog Road
11 Tracks, 49 Minutes

Here is the girl from the Bronx with the blue fiddle and a complete handle on the Irish tradition in America. Eileen brings all her skill, knowledge and bubbly energy to a work that will take you on a journey from the rough track outside of a Mayo cottage to the iron rails of a trans–continental railway. A journey that millions of Irish people have made from Ballyvaughan and Ballyhaunis to the Bronx and beyond.
Ivers understands this journey, the pain it caused, the hope it created, the excitement that accompanied every step, from the first imaginings of a better life in a new world to the first footfall on the western shore. And she knows the musical trail it left in its wake. The triumph here, and it truly is a triumph, is the way she has made a musical magnus–opus from a journey that has been running for the past 200 years.
The first track, written by, Eileen is called Walk On, it opens with old timey banjo, shifting into a Cajun two step as Tim Shelton adds Southern swing to the vocals, there is an authentic Cajun triangle too, this is a song that could become a hit all on its own. Niamh Parsons lends her wonderfully rich alto to The Green Fields of America a song dripping with nostalgia for the homes that will soon be only a memory and hope for a new life in a new place.
Eileens fiddle is front and centre on Crossroads, a lyrical waltzing tune which sweeps to give way to a piano break, this is music that wouldnt be out of place on an ORiada album, it is expansive yet at its heart is a simple repeated motif.
Vocal traditions from Ireland and African America collide on Linin The Track, a clever musical linking of the rail road track that took emigrants further west and brought beef back east. Here Paddy Works on the Railway is patched to an African/American work song. The Irish–American experience is of course a continental one and Eileen covers the French Canadian tradition on Le Réve Du Quetreux Tremblay (the back story is a tale worth re–telling, check it out on the liner notes).
Those liner notes are worth the price of the album, 16 pages of information, archive photographs and Eileens commentary on Irish musics happy immigration to North America. Irish music has come a long way from the Bog Road but you can still catch the smell of the turf fire in music that now lives in New Orleans, New York or Montreal, it even perfumes the jazz inspired Irish Black Bottom.
Irish music in America could have become a folk memory or a vaudeville pastiche, but thanks to musicians of the calibre of Eileen Ivers, the turf fire is burning bright.
Seán Laffey

Storm Party
EchoWrecKids EWCD001, 12 Tracks, 49 Minutes

dBize have been touring Ireland, the UK and beyond (including Shanghai) since their inception a few years ago and have recently released their debut album Storm Party with the help of a lively Fundit Campaign. The group, rumour has it, met over at Glastonbury and includes Yvonne Bolton from Carlow (concertina, fiddle, cello), Neil Fitzgibbon from Athlone (fiddle, guitar, vocals) and Paddy Morgan from Derry on guitar. Glad they met as this superbly produced album by Donagh Hennessy in Studio Mhic an Daill on the Dingle Peninsula allows the band to cut straight into a carefully concertina enunciated French March before ripping into the lively reels Mothers Delight and Humours of Westport, so setting the standard of the quality of playing that carries through all twelve tracks on the album.
Theres a lifting flow to the Inishbofin jig set where the instrumental combinations fuse delightfully before allowing both the concertina and fiddle to showcase their individuality with a subtle lift from the guitar strings and Jim Higgins percussion raises (or rouses even) the bar even higher on the last jig of the set; Professor Gilberts Birthday. The band keep you on your listening toes though, on some of the tracks, as sharp tune changes can take you from the La Valse pour les Petites Jeunes Filles waltz into the familiar bars of The Boys of Ballisodare and hop from that jig, straight into The Oriental Polka without taking a breath.
A standout has to be the depth of play from Fitzgibbons fiddle as he emits a forceful vibe in the beautifully self–composed Nach Mór an Trua which is featured in Risteard O’ Domhnaills insightful film Atlantic; in fact, the whole jig set here shows exactly what this band are made of with a passionate concertina play from Bolton and an intricate string interlude from Morgan that could easily be expanded for further listening pleasure. Theres a lot more of that listening pleasure within dBizes debut; a detailed dexterity of play is what youll get with Storm Party. Well worth a listen.
Eileen McCabe

Light Up
Black Horse Productions CD1601,
10 Tracks, 37 Minutes

Padraig Lalor is from Belfast, and although he has lived in Wales for many years, he still carries a torch for his home place. With Light Up he has achieved a new level in his exploration of the modern Irish song. Based partly on his experiences and reflections of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, the album is a positive affirmation of the power of peace over prejudice. He chooses a number of musicians to back the songs:
Folk award winner Tim Edey (Guitar/Melodion), Gill O’Shea (accordion and whistles), Grieg Stewart (drums/percussion), Piotr Jordan and Selyth Edwards (fiddles) plus Danny Kilbride and, Andrew Wal Coughlan on bass guitars.
Lalor has crafted a work of exceptionally high quality. This is a richly layered collaboration with major creative inputs from Tim Edey, Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots) and 20 year old Sarah Passmore (a real find, a lady with a deeply smoky voice). Greig Stewart also does a fine job on the production of the album.
The track Light Up Your Hearts is truly a charming & uplifting song with a strong theme of reconciliation and positivity and is ideally constructed for radio airplay. Carrying an affirmative message for the generation that has grown up with the peace process, this song is essentially about Ireland being led into the light of peace after centuries of turmoil. The song has a Celtic soul feel to it, not unlike the gentler melodic work of Van Morrison.
Rinty Monaghan, recorded at a live gig, is a joyous look back at the musical career of one of Belfast’s most famous boxers, whilst The Western Wind tells of the sad longing for their homeland of the Irish diaspora. Lalor knows the dark side of the North and this is brought into sharp focus on Kathleen’s Choice, which contrasts the pull of politics over love.
This is brave song writing, never rhetorical, never hectoring, never polemic, yet always persuasive. At it’s heart is a universal set of truths about our condition. Lalor has a voice that demands to be heard. This is his best, most complete and uncompromising album to date. This album will appeal to those with a love of Irish history.
Seán Laffey

11 Tracks, 52 Minutes
Gael Linn,

Gaelré is Gráinne Hollands second studio album. Belfast born Holland has brought together her favourite Irish songs and it is spellbinding from start to finish. Gaelré (Era of the Gael) is a delicate, dynamic compilation, producing new boundaries for the traditional Gaelic song. Steeped in the Gaelic language, Gaelré symbolises the very strong place for the Irish language in our modern day music. Its alive and thriving through music such as this.
Síos and Sliabh opens the album and immediately transports us into another world. Its captivating not only in language but through Hollands voice and her acoustic style. She takes the music up a gear with Shíl mé Féin and it never falters.
Throughout Gaelré we are transported to another time and era and yet we are very much rooted in the modern day. The language ensures a strong sense of place. Airde Cuain is almost lamentlike, and yet again transports us to a tranquil zone and we cannot help but feel the music in this captivating song. You are spellbound through every song as you listen. The power of music and language successfully show us throughout this album the true magic of our tradition. And yet at no time does it feel anything other than contemporary. Ending with the lively Ceol and Phíobaire one doesnt want it to end. Such is the captivation of this music.
This album really will lure you to another world.
Grainne McCool

Behave the Bravest
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 49 Minutes
Nuala Kennedy has made her name as a flute player; bit there is far more to her musical imagination than two feet of ebony. This is an album where six of the ten tracks are songs, sourced from a number of traditions. Nuala has gathered an impressive group of musicians on this album, Donald Hay (Drums/Percussion); Michael Bryan (Guitar), Shona Mooney (Fiddle) Eamon OLeary (Guitar, Bouzouki, Vocals); Johnny Connolly (Button Accordion); Mathias Kunzli (Drums/Percussion) and Joe Philips – Double Bass. Nualas hand was very much on the tiller when it came to the production, a process which took six months and three studios, each on a different continent to bring the work to completion. Such is the quality of the album and the strength of Nualas musical vision that that this comes together as coherent
The album opens with a song Lovely Armoy, an emigration ballad from Antrim, with a gorgeous folk melody (not to be confused with the dance hall version from 1961 by Maisie Daniels). She brings her clear bell–like voice to the Scottish waulking song Mo Bhuachaill Dubh Domm which she pairs with the tune Young Tom Ellis. Nuala takes a song from her native Louth Úrchnoc Chein Mhic Cáinte, she sings over a lush drone adding plaintive whistle halfway through the track. She takes a very simple yet effective road on Glen Where The Deer Is–The Ivy Leaf–The Dublin Lasses, percussion and whistle predominates here. The Funamble at over 5 minutes is both experimental tour de force in her control over the low register of the flute. Her mastery of the flute is demonstrated again on the final selection, a Galician set of Muneira De Paula–The Broken Lanter–Barralin, I can see the first tune becoming a session favourite.
Behave the Bravest is an intoxicating mixture of solid soaring tunes and passionate songs, from one of todays top Celtic performers.
Seán Laffey

Box Sets
Own Label 10 Tracks, 34 Minutes
An album of new tunes is still a relative rarity in Irish traditional music, but Bronx–based box player John Redmond offers exactly that on his second CD. About fifteen years after he released East to Northeast, a mix of old and new tunes and songs, hes back with a box full of his own compositions put together during enforced rest as the result of a broken collarbone. Not the sort of injury youd expect to produce accordion music – but I suppose every cloud has a silver lining. Box Sets is certainly a welcome byproduct of this misadventure, and of time spent convalescing at home in County Wexford. While its a little short on duration, the quality is never in doubt from Johns button box and Alan Murrays fine accompaniment.
Redmonds music is mainly close to the core of Irish button box tunes, with similarities to Paddy OBrien, Finbarr Dwyer, Joe Burke, Jackie Daly and even John Whelan. His style is more staccato than Burke and OBrien, but not as clipped as the classic Munster players. The melodies bear strong resemblances to familiar tunes in many cases: The Rossmore Jetty, Kinnegad Slashers, Sweet Biddy Daly and others spring to mind. Jigs, reels, polkas and hornpipes are leavened by two lovely waltzes, one distinctly Irish and the other more French.
There are also two unusual slow pieces which break the mould of accordion slow airs: The Hillsland and Looking Toward Vinegar Hill both exploit the low notes, although on different hands, and both use minimal ornamentation compared with airs played by McMahon or Begley for example. This collection ends with three rattling good reels, each one a modern gem. With excellent notes and some great tune titles, theres plenty of new material here for listeners and players alike. John doesnt appear to have his own website, but samples of his music are available through major online stores such as iTunes and CDBaby.
Alex Monaghan

Own Label 11 Tracks, 44 Minutes

Líosa Murphy first released her debut album Skylark in 2014. She is currently touring Ireland with this composition and is making a firm name for herself on the Irish folk and traditional music scene. This album presents some of the most traditional ballads such as Nancy Spain, Siúil a Rún and Caledonia. Although well–known, Murphy puts her own contemporary touch to all three. They become original with the rhythms and electronic recording techniques she uses. And even more so with her very own quirky, authentic voice. Caledonia is exquisite to listen to.
The album comprises 11 tracks and is a lovely blend of Gaelige agus Bearlá. Siúil A Rún opens the album and is a delightful melody to kick–start a very contemporary collection of music. A series of jigs and reels helps keep the traditional feel throughout. These sets provide the perfect interlude to her other collection of tunes. Reconciliation is a most soothing, relaxing tune and then leads onto Soldiers in Dreams, a reflective tune but Murphys quirky voice once again puts an authentic stamp to it. Murphy really is taking us on a new sound journey of Irish music.
This album has been described as dainty and beautiful. It is this and more. It is new, its fresh, its alive with modernity and it highlights the exquisite voice and musical talent of one of Irelands newest and freshest talents, Líosa Murphy.
Grainne McCool

Sciodar, 7 Tracks, 40 Minutes

Scannal, a Kerry based duo of Peter Staunton (box) and Bréanainn ó Beaglaoich (guitar), takes us for a night out in Dingle on this seven track recording. Now seven tracks might not seem a lot, but when you consider that the album begins with Lóda Bailics, a number that runs for over 12 minutes, youll understand this is music rooted in the dance traditions of the South West.
You have to play for turn after turn of polkas, slides and reel sets in the Kingdom. Stamina is a pre–requisite for a night beyond the Connor pass. That opening track has whoops, hollers, words off, and the sound of cows mooing to the box and guitar combo. The music here is what has become the traditional driving style of Sliabh Luachra. The guitar channels the spirit of Steve Cooney, with triplet runs, picked arpeggios, the dynamics are as alive as a new born cat, you can hear as the box and guitar move in and out from the microphones, and this is vital music, bouncing along, waving to the crowds who are spinning below it. Originally recorded in 2014, it is presented in a distinctly homemade package, printed on white paper, complete with comic book illustrations of life in Dingle (not that strange as the town holds an animation fest each year).
Track one over; do you need a rest yet? Well you are not getting one, ever! The tune called Easy Now, is as lively as a spit on a trivet. At one point one of the lads shouts out Rock and Roll, not that tame, Rock has never been as much fun or more subversive. The track Shark Attack, its a day at the seaside gulls whirring overhead and a voice over that tells we are about to hear the jig. Out on the Ocean, more sea gulls and lapping waves shifting gravel, theres ozone in the tide of tunes here.
The album closes with Ah Seriously, introduced by a faux RTÉ continuity announcer, it is a bit of a mess, a room full of dancers chattering over the din of the musicians complete with obligatory bleeps to avoid a parental advisory. I suspect we are not meant to take this album seriously at all, but theres no doubt Scannal are serious players. Next February as I drive down to the Gathering in Killarney, as soon I pass through Macroom, this album is going on the car CD player. If you like your Sliabh Luachra authentic this is the unfiltered rough cut to beat all rough cuts.
Seán Laffey

Purt Sheearan Records PSRCD002,
10 Tracks, 39 Minutes,

Its a good few years ago now since I was last in the beautiful Isle of Man, or Ellan Vannin as its known in Manx Gaelic; but I keep in touch with the music scene there through Kiaull Manninagh Jiu, the islands free newsletter guide to Manx music and dance. And when I had read in the most recent edition that Ruth Keggin had a new CD coming out, I remember how impressed I was on hearing her and her young musician friends during that visit. Talented musicians indeed, and fine young Gaels.
The CD is called Turrys, and drawing on the smattering of Manx Gaelic Ive picked up, I figured out that it was what we know in Irish Gaelic as turas, which means journey. And I was right, because now that I have the CD notes before me, Ruth explains that her choice of name for the recording is meant to take you on a compelling voyage through the songs and music of the Isle of Man. And she does just that right from the start with an enthralling rendition of Irree ny greiney which is easily recognizable in Irish as Éirí na gréine – Sunrise, a Bob Carswell song. And the nice thing is that Ruth supplies the words along with their translations into English.
Continuing on the musical journey, Ruth refers to the islands connections with Ireland and Scotland – ties that are well established; but then she extends it further through a connection to North America, and here there emerged something of a surprise for me. The notes explain: Ruth weaves the traditional Manx song, Ushag veg ruy (Little Red Bird) together with In the Pines, an American folk song… The surprise? My wife, Joyce, and I first met in a logging town nestled in the pines – the pine forests of British Columbia – and the very first song we sang together there on CFTKs Tall Totem Country Television was In the Pines! It was our first time to actually sing in public and we were very nervous, and it was not a memorable performance.
Ruth starts off the song in gentle Manx Gaelic about the wee bird and surprises us with a sudden but seamless transformation to a blues type rendition of the American song, eventually easing back into the more plaintive Gaelic song once again. It is just one example of her vocal dexterity that is amply demonstrated throughout the recording and her ability to take Manx song through imaginative vocal and instrumental arrangements that are a delight. Incidentally, Ruth is also a flute player, and shes joined by versatile and talented musicians David Pearce (guitar), Vanessa Hutchinson (double–bass) and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (flute, concertina and vocals).
Aidan OHara