Issue 19 8/2001
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Karen Tweed and Timo Alakotila "May Monday"
Label: Fyasco Records;FYCD003; 2001
Karen Tweed, the well known accordionist from England (duo with Ian Carr, The
Poozies, Swåp, Two Duos), has finally something like a solo CD - not that
it is really a solo CD. More a project with plenty of well known musicians of
the English and Nordic folk world. She has teamed up with the Finnish pianist
and composer Timo Alakotila. The album features also Väsen's guitarist
Roger Tallroth, the Finnish accordeonist Maria Kalaniemi, Finnish violinists
Mauno Järvelä and Matti Mäkelä, Helka Hahasalo on viola,
Shanti Paul Jayasinha on flügelhorn, Timo Myllykangas on double bass and
Marion Göbel on cello.
As you can imagine, the result is excellent. The album wanders between different
influences between the British isles and the Nordic countries, being steepted
in the two music traditions that Karen Tweed is in love with: the Irish and
the Swedish. The album displays and celebrates the result of sessions with other
bands during diverse festivals. It features both traditionals from England,
Ireland and Scandinavia and newly composed music by musicians such as Karen
Tweed herself, Sarah Allen, Andy Cutting and Chris Wood.
This is laid back music, blending not only diverse folk music traditions, but
also diverse styles. Mainly it is quiet music, along with a few livelier tunes.
Plenty of wonderful music. The music project "May Monday" is just
about to embark on a mini tour in England at the start of September, watch out
Karen Tweed's Homepage
Paul Winter and the earth band "Journey with
music; lmus0038; 2000
On his own label Paul Winter presents his newest cd called Journey with the
sun. His band includes the Armenian musician Arto Tuncboyaciyan and the well-known
Uillean-pipe player Davy Spillane. Besides this band Paul also used the skills
of musicians such as Niamh Parsons and Mickey Hart. Journey with the sun is
an adventure, a rare mixture of newly written English, Irish and Armenian influenced
music. The start of the album is impressing. The song is called Caravan at dawn
and the vocal part of Tuncboyaciyan is overwhelming and wakes up the whole neighbourhood.
After this highlight, the album continues with quality songs. Changing from
intense instrumental parts like Mountain wedding to more songs sung by Arto
Tuncboyaciyan. Paul Winter collected an excellent group of musicians and especially
the Armenian Tuncboyaciyan surprised me very much. The cd is nominated for a
Grammy award and it surely disserves to win!
Label: Own; tum001
I think that each country has at least one klezmer group. This one comes from two countries: both Sweden and Denmark, and is called Tummel. Not like many other Klezmer groups they play their music in the same "happy" style as heard often before. They managed to add something extra to their tunes. I like the parts where the electric guitar makes it almost sound like rock-music. I wish that they had done this a bit more. It would have given the cd a real unique sound. Don't get me wrong. Oy is a fresh, strong cd and highly recommended to everybody who likes Klezmer music. But I feel that this band can do more, they have so many qualities and I hope they will be able to develop their own style more and more. Tummel sells its first cd on their web page only. I hope they will find a distributor soon because this cd deserves the attention of music-lovers worldwide.
Garmarna "Hildegard von bingen"
network, also on German westpark label; mnwcd365.; 2001
I don't think Garmarna needs any introduction. They are well known all over the globe by now and Folkworld printed an interview with lead-singer Emma only a few months ago. During this interview Emma told that they were working on the Hildegard von Bingen album and that it would be different than their previous releases. Before I got the cd in my hands I heard many different opinions about this new Garmarna cd. The first one was very negative, absolutely boring they said, while others were terribly positive. Now after hearing the cd for about twenty times I choose for the positive ones. I think Garmarna grew up. This music indeed is different than their first four cd's but that is logic, the music by von Bingen has a totally different atmosphere than the traditionals Garmarna used earlier and Bingens music asks for a different approach. The album has a modern sound with different kind of rhythms and beats as basic elements together with the voice of Emma. Not as overwhelming as Vedergallningen but more adult and with both feet in the 21 century. I'm sure they will loose a few fans with this new album but they will gain new ones too.
Whirligig "First frost"
Label: Lochshore; cdldl 1302.; 2001
The sleeve of the new Whirlig cd First frost is one of the most terrible sleeves I've ever seen in my life. It looks like a very bad new-age synthesizer cd sleeve. How wrong it is to look at the sleeve only, proofs the music played by Whirligig. Whirligig brings a mixture of traditional and early music. Instruments used are different kind of smallpipes, Appalachian dulcimer, hurdy gurdy, guitar etc. Although the tunes are played in traditional style the music sounds full and very fresh. Whirligig has an own sound that is very pleasant to listen to. They know how to buildup a song and the combination of the traditional and early music sounds very natural. A few tunes like the Morrison's jig are well known and not better or worse than other versions. While tunes like Never love thee more that is a combination of three traditionals ending with the Bransie de bourgogne are also known but combined in such way that they sound like a new written tune. I'm very pleased with this cd and am especially enjoying the playing of Ken Campbell who is responsible for the smallpipes. A strong traditional album this First frost by Whirligig.
Sian James "Pur"
Label: Bos records ; rbos001.; 2000
Just back from a tour through the USA, Sian James recorded her new album Pur. The album represents her live solo performance and contains Sian singing Welsh songs accompanying herself on her harp. The fifteen songs on this album are all traditionals and brought close to the original versions. Sian has a good voice that, together with the harp, creates a peaceful atmosphere. Here music is great for moments of rest and almost sound like lullabies although I understand that the lyrics are sometimes much darker than you would aspect from a sleeping-song. It's not unique or new in anyway. Sian is just a good musician who brings here style of music in a professional way.
Sian James Homepage
l'eco dei sansoni "un po' di fumo-un po di sereno"
Label: Italica/map; it cd2003
L'ecodei sansoni is a Italian band with Giuseppe Ballerini as central composer and singer. The group mixes traditional influenced music with rock elements. What is most special about this cd called Un po di fumo-un po di sereno is the vocals. One of the lead singers has almost the age of my grandfather and he has a great voice in which live left it's traces. Listen to a song like L'eros which sounds both strong and fragile at the same time. I prefer the songs sung by the older singer.sorry but I cant find out which name belongs to which singer.Although the quality of songs like Giorno e notte and L'omu no omu is high and the voice is actually very good, it doesn't have the same feeling as the "old man" voice. The musicians play a combination of traditional instruments and electronic instruments and the tunes have a typically Italian style. An intriguing cd that I enjoyed very much.
Rudi Mika "Das gewicht einer feder"
Pläne; plane 88861.; 2001
Already thirty years the German guitar player Rudi Mika is active in different groups. Now he released his first solo cd on the German Pläne label with the help of a few fellow musicians. Beside own compositions Mika also wrote lyrics on songs like Voodoo child and a song by John Hiatt and Stephen Stills. The first song is called translated from German "My live is like a waiting room" and although it doesn't sound bad it is far from original. Ein kind der nacht, a new version of Jimi Hendrix Voodoo child, has more to offer. Powerfull and an unexpected African introduction. Mika doesn't sing himself; he is joined by two guest singers called Peter Freiberg and Ulrich Schlitzer. Especially this last singer is able to take songs like Am rande der zeit to a higher level. Besides songs the cd also offers a few instrumental tunes like Dialog mit einem wal and Redwood raga. Nice tunes, not of special high quality. The weak point of this cd is in my opinion the lyrics. They are predictable and, together with some parts of the music, a bit out of time.
Mari Boine, Inna Zhelannaya and Sergey Starostin "Winter in Moscow"
Jaro; jaro 4235-2.; 2001
This sounds like a very special project. Mari Boine, the well-known singer from Lapland, together with Inna Zhelannaya and Sergey Starostin both from the Russian group the Farlanders. The idea for this cd came in 1990 and in 1992 the musicians met for the first time in a studio in Moscow. The first three songs from this cd are recorded during this first meeting. The cd starts with a typically Mari Boine styled song where she also takes the leading vocals accompanied by the voice of Starostin and the sound of the Rozjok cowhorn that is so typically for the music of the Farlanders. In the second song Pjesna Ljesorubov Inna Zhelannaya is singing the leading part and Korridorsangen is sung by Boine again. After these three crossover songs each musician plays with their own band a few extra numbers. That is such a pity, why didn't they record a few more songs together? The combination works! The Russian and the Joik music perfectly fit together and create a very strong sound. Not that the other songs are of bad quality but they are not as powerful and refreshing as the first three. Of course, Sjestra maja notsj is sung beautifully by Zhelannaya and also Boine and Starostin bring high quality songs but it was the chemistry of these great musicians together that made the first part of this cd of such a high quality. I recommend Winter in Moscow highly but I do hope that they will meet again in Moscow or at any other place on this globe and they will record more Russian-Sami progressive folk music.
The Easy Club "Scottish rhytm and swing"
Label: Greentrax ; cdtrax 205
The Easy club is a Scots band who released their first record in 1984. This is the cd issue of this debut album and contains both traditionals and new written folk-tunes. The band stopped playing together in 1988 although they still meet in different other music projects. This re-issue is a very nice cd that still sounds fresh and up to-date. 10 tunes that blend folk with jazz and swing brought by highly skilled musicians. This cd shows that the folk-music that comes from areas such as Scotland but also from other parts of the United Kingdom, did not develop much during the last two decades. This album is good quality and nobody would look strange when a young group of musicians would record a cd like this. High quality but not innovating and I think it's the right decision to re-issue records like this because it's what people want and still, after 17 years, is representative for the Scottish music of nowadays.
Label: Own; Mini-CD; 2001
A four song cd recorded by Brett Levy himself in his bedroom. He wrote the songs and plays all instruments. The first song is very actual about the USA election and the decision to stop the vote recount in Florida. According to Levy his other songs are more open to interpretation. 4 songs by a singer-songwriter that at least has the self-confidence to record and promote his own music. This four song cd gives only a very poor picture of his musical capacity and I need to hear more to give a strong opinion. These four songs are nice and although recorded in his bedroom, the quality isn't bad at all. I can't say that it's new, there are many singer-songwriters like Levy. If he will manage to reach a big audience is something the future will learn.
Mailto Brett Levy
Chaz Stewart "The angels falls"
macmeanma; skyecd16.; 2001
Chaz Sewart is the guitarist of the band Burach and Cliar. This Angels falls is his first solo cd containing 12 self written tunes mainly with the electric guitar as centre of the music. Mixed with accordion, harp and other instruments he brings music that is hard to describe. It's not folk but more guitar pop with a bit mellow sound. It's the kind of music you hear on the radio after midnight. Tunes like a day in the rain and amazon sound a bit jazzy and would also work in a supermarket. There are only two songs on the album called The games we play and Wasted time. They remind me of the music that was popular during the fifties. A friendly album but not spectacular. Don't expect to hear innovating, new music. Stewart plays music you heard before.
Michael Mc dermott "Last change lounge"
Label: Koch records; 335362.; 2000
The thirty year old Michael McDermott is a modern singer-songwriter who writes
songs about human things and lost dreams. His style reminds me about both Richard
Thompson and Bob Dylan. Getting off the dime starts like a Thompson song while
his way of singing is more Dylan-like. This first song is strong, heavy folk-rock
of good quality. He also sings soft songs like Murder on her lips but I prefer
his more rock styled songs. His voice is much more suitable for a bit heavy
music. His lyrics are a bit chaotic and need a few times listening before you
got an idea about what he is singing. Last chance lounge is a collection of
fine folk-rock songs with a few intriguing moments but most of all uncomplicated
Michael McDermott's Homepage
Label: Drone; drocd022.; 2000
Nyckelharporkestern is an orchestra that exists of six talented young Swedish nyckelharpa musicians. This instrument has a high popularity at the moment. Groups like Väsen showed this instrument to the world and their Nyckelharpa player is also a member of this orchestra. All tunes on this album are written by Byss-Calle an important person in the Nyckelharpa music. He lived from 1783-1847 in the Uppland region and great tales are told about him and his magical power. About rivals with other musicians in which magic plays a big role and the, sometimes strange, stories behind his tunes. Nowadays his music is very popular and is played a lot by Nyckelharpa musicians all around the country. Byss-Calle is a very strong cd with 16 tunes that all have a special kind of feeling. I like Brostugan that starts like somebody is putting a spell over you and this person then starts dancing in front of your face and you cant stop him. Other tunes sound almost like classical music, such as Byss-Call polska efter Wesslen. It reminds me of big parties that royal families had during the 19th century. This is a high quality cd with very strong versions of traditional Swedish music.
Arto Tuncboyaciyan "Everyday is a new life"
Living music ; lmus 0037.; 2000
Arto Tuncboyaciyan was born in Galataria, a small village just outside Istanbul. He comes from an Armenian family. He started his musical career when he was only eleven years old and played with several well-known Anatolian artists. He moved to the USA in 1981 and now in the year 2000 he released his cd Every day is a new life. The cd consists of several songs and tunes influenced by the traditional music of his homeland. Thank god I wake up again reminds me of the fanfare music that is heard often in the Balkan countries. I miss you every moment my brother is a long tune in new-age style about his older brother who inspired him to become a musician. Broken arm is the opening track and also one of the best on this album. It has strong vocals and deep Armenian influenced music. Arto wrote all his music himself and some lyrics must be very personal. It's a pleasant album but the songs sound a bit the same and my attention is gone halfway the album. That's a pity, because his contribution to Paul Winters cd Journey with the sun is fantastic and I'm convinced that Arto is a great musician.
Keola Beamer "Islan born"
Label: Ohe records ; 96118.; 2001
Island Born is the second cd from Hawaii I'm reviewing ever and again I'm surprised. Keola Beamer is a member of a musician family that is well known in the music scene in Hawaii. After a few solo albums he invited some guest musicians for Island born and this gives a more than average result. Thirteen fine singer-songwriter songs about the beauty of his homeland brought in a warm atmosphere that recalls pictures of lazy, sunny days at a place you feel at home. The cd is partly sung in English and partly in the native language sorry, does anybody know how I should call the language that is spoken on Hawaii?. Besides his own vocals he get help by a woman called Princess Kel'iho'omalu who adds extra warmth to his songs. I cant compare it with his earlier work and I don't know enough about Hawaiian music to compare it with other music but for a nice summer evening, this is just the perfect cd.
Kola Beamer's homepage
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