Issue 23 09/2002
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Schalsickbrassband "kesh mesh"
87089; 2002; Playing time: 74.33 min
This brass band from Cologne started as a alternative Carnival band but now
the group is an internationally known and rewarded band. Kesh mesh is
their fourth cd and as always one full of surprises. The start is terrible,
an annoying circus tune which hurts the ears. That this opener is only a joke
can be concluded after hearing the quality of the other fifteen songs. The group
gets its inspiration from all corners of the world. They use sneaky Bulgarian
vocals, African drums, Kurdish folksong and Egyptian belly-dance music besides
the Cologne dialect. This group is not only a band with world-wide music, they
also belong to the absolute best the world-brass music has to offer. Much better
than al these Brass formations that think they are original by playing yet again
some klezmer classics, no Schal sick looks further than that and knows how to
entertain its audience.
Eyfo (European Youth Folk Orchestra) "enfants
Ethnosuoni; ES5323; 2002; Playing time: 62.02 min
This is probably the first CD I have in my hands that is co-financed by the
European Union, under the Culture 2000 Programme. And, to summarise the album
in one word, it is brilliant.
The idea of a European Youth Folk Orchestra came about from the fact that there
are already Euroepan youth orchestras for music as diverse as classic, baroque
and jazz. It felt more than suitable to establish also an orchestra for traditional
music, bringing togetehr the diversity of distinctve music traditions from all
over Europe. The orchestra was established and is managed by the European Network
of Traditional Music and Dance (ENTMD), and has become one of the pilot projects
and a symbol of the work of this network.
But to the music itself. Now if you expect a boring orchestra sound, you are
far from what Eyfo is about. Eyfo's music sounds extremely fresh and innovative,
full of great musical ideas and variety, full of drive, beauty and power. The
playing together is tight, and all talents in the band are well showcased. The
music travels from one country to the next, from French Bourees via Swedish
Polskas, a bridal tune from Western Norway and an Irish jig to songs from Italy,
Spain, England. Several numbers are written by band members.
The European Youth Orchestra features some of the huge amount of young folk
talent from all over Europe. The CD features artists from England (Anna Tabush
and Holly Sheldrake), France (Jerome Liogier), Norway (Ase Teigland), Ireland
(David O'Connell), Italy (Marco Dominichetti), Germany (Johannes Uhlmann), Finland
(Piia Kleemola), Sweden (Anna-Kristina Widell and Pär Moberg, the latter
is the musical director of Eyfo), Spain (Pablo Martin). The band features an
impressive range of music instruments, presenting most of the European music
traditions as well as providing modern influences. Instruments include from
Scandinavia nyckelharpa, hardanger fiddle, kantele and jouhikko, there is a
French hurdy gurdy, Italian bagipes, the melodeon of the magnificent German
Johannes Uhlmann, there are violins, flutes, guitars, bouzouki, percussion,
a saxophone, voices.
This is an impressive proof of the current talent found among the new generation
of folk musicians throughout Europe. It is also a proof of how closely European
music traditions are connected, as all songs and tunes, with their broad geographical
background, form a beautiful and inspiring, well fitting overall image.This
is pan European music at its best; a "must buy" for all who love geographically
and stylistically open minded music based on trad.
Homepage of Eyfo's management, the ENTMD: www.eurotradmusic.net,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blazin Fiddles "the old style"
Label: Own; BRCD002; 2002; Playing time: 45.44
Blazin Fiddles is one of the newer bands from Scotland, and in the 4 years of
its existance, it has built a reputation as one of the best Scottish bands.
The band combines five musicians of the Top League of young Scottish fiddlers
- Allan Henderson, Catriona Macdonald, Iain MacFarlane, Bruce MacGregor and
Aidan O'Rourke. To balance all these fiddles, they are joined by Andy Thorburn
on piano and Marc Clement on guitar. Their playing together is extremely tight,
full of energy, well arranged.
Blazin Fiddles' first album, "Fire on!", was a real fireworks of the
best of tunes this bunch of individual talents had on offer. Back then still
joined by another famous fiddler, Duncan Chisholm, they played many old favourites
of the individuals in new interpretations. "The old Style" cannot
really compete against this; it comes along somewhat more gentle. Although there
is a very high quality throughout the album, this one does not reach the same
power that "Fire on!" had. Nevertheless definitely worth a listen
and a buy, as this is still the Blazin Fiddles that we know and love, and the
band managed once more to transfer the live energy of their concerts on CD.
The title of the album, "The old style", is a runnig joke between
the band, well presented by the album cover and booklet, featuring wild photos
of the Blazin Fiddles in traditional evening costumes, as well as the boys of
the band in evening dresses. Those who like to see more of how the Blazin Fiddles
in their dresses made Scotland's beaches unsafe, will be pleased to find out
that there is an extensive slideshow in the Enhanced CD Rom section of the CD,
full of mad photos. Also, for the real Blazin Fiddles' fans, the CD Rom section
provides all those information you always wanted to know - the musicians' dates
of births, eye coulour, Place of Birth, favourite curry, favourite drink, best
hangover cure. Maybe you might even learn what about a sauna or playing golf
to cure your hangovers?
Anyway, good fun, good album - there is not much more you can expect.
Homepage of the artist: www.blazin-fiddles.co.uk,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Din delòn "La rosa e la ramella"
Ethnosuoni; ES5322; 2002; Playing time: 47.08 min
Din Delòn are a rather new band from the Northern Italian region Lombardy.
Their music is based on the Lombardian traditions; most is either traditional
or composed by the band's accordion player Andrea Capezzuoli. The sound of the
band is focused on accordeon, hurdy gurdy and pipes, as well as the singing
of both male and female lead singers. The voices are both pleasant, though at
times maybe a bit weak.
Somehow there is a very French feeling about this album, which is probably due
to both the range of instruments Din Delòn play, and an appreciation
of the band to French traditions. Enjoyable music, and, by the way, also nice
booklet with funny little drawings.
Homepage of the band: dindelon.interfree.it,
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, contact
to label: email@example.com
Josephine Oniyama "A Smaller Version of the
Label: Storm Music;
No. STORM; 2002
Josephine Oniyama is not your average youngster with a guitar. Still in her
teens, the young Mancunian has a string of highly impressive support appearances
to her credit, among them Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Cara Dillon
and Richard Thompson. Critics have called her Britain's version of Tracy Chapman.
This conclusion is far too easily arrived at, and not necessarily accurate.
The formula is essentially the same, but Oniyama's vocals are quite unique,
and compared to Chapman's debut, there is considerably more diversity of influence
on this album - possibly a sign of the times? This, Oniyama's debut LP, has
been eagerly awaited, and should herald the start of considerable media interest
for her. The first thing to strike about Oniyama is her voice - heavy vibrato,
remarkable dexterity, and a wide range, all combining to give way to a heady,
soulful mix. The songs could fool the listener into believing that they are
the work of an altogether more mature songwriter. "Stranger in the Room" is
something of an emotional epic. Haunting vocals are backed by subtle guitar
and smoky bass line. "Find Your Own Way" shimmies along very nicely indeed,
and incorporates some fine percussion work. Tracks such as "Invitation" and
"Hopeless" veer slightly closer to the folk-pop genre, potentially highly radio-friendly.
Josephine Oniyama is still a raw talent - there is nothing uncomfortably slick
or packaged about what she does. Catch her while you can.
Homepage of the artist: www.jospephineoniyama.com,
contact to label: Sam@stormmusic.org
Kirsty McGee "Honeysuckle"
Recordingsc; No. FECD170; 2002; Playing time: 43.19 min
Kirsty McGee is a bit of a puzzle to me. Her voice is, at times, a carbon copy
of Eleanor McEvoy's - occasionally a whisper, but obviously capable of real
muscle, not the greatest voice in the world, but perfect for her repertoire.
The songs themselves, all composed by McGee, cannot be faulted, melodically
speaking. Tracks such as "Wild Garlic" and "Skin" are beautifully written, very
mellow and tender. Her lyrics are, sporadically, pure poetry. But they are too,
intermittently, completely cringe worthy, and this is my main fault with this
record. The usual clichés are well represented - coffee, alcohol and drunkenness
are common themes, while that old chestnut, bad-boy-meets-bad-girl-from-wrong-side-of-the-tracks-and-end-up-in-relationship
is the subject of "The Wrong Girl". I hesitate in writing this, as McGee is
undeniably a talent to keep an eye on, and she certainly knows how to pen a
song. I also hasten to add that dubious lyric writing is not reason enough not
to hear this record. On the contrary, Honeysuckle is still very much worth investigating.
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music; 2002; Playing time: 47.00 min
At a glance, Grada might seem like just another young Irish trad group rehashing
the same old tunes under a different guise. Except, in reality, this couldn't
be further from how they actually sound. Endeavour is their second album, and
is a work of pulsing energy and vision. The musicianship is first class, the
arrangements extraordinarily insightful. Take their version of Ronan O Snodaigh's
"Cathain"; Anne Marie O'Malley's vocals are the common thread between verse
and chorus, which alternate between sparse instrumentation and a lush, fuller
sound. The whole track has incredible drive, and rushes to a close, leaving
the listener in a bit of a whirlwind, longing for more. The self-penned "Endeavour"
is in stark contrast with an altogether gentler sound, thanks to the floating
vocals and sweet harmonies. "Anto's Gambit" is Alan Doherty's party piece on
this album. He caresses each and every beautiful note of "Cailin na Gruaige
Doinne", before gently easing into "Peata Beag A Mhathair", and losing all pretensions
of reverence on "Anto's Gambit". My favourite is "Biodegradable", an enchanting
play on rhythm over an uncomplicated melody.
Homepage of the artist: www.gradamusic.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan McKeown & The Chanting House "Prophecy"
Music; No. SNG704; 2002; Playing time: 37.03 min
A prolific composer and recording artist in her own right, Susan McKeown's
latest offering with her band The Chanting House is a feast of strong, mature,
often invigorating songs. A Dubliner now based in New York, McKeown's sound
contains traits that are unmistakeably Irish, but has strains from both sides
of the pond. Better known to some as a traditional singer, this album is more
closely related to her debut, Bones, which was only on release in the US. More
rock than folk, the blend also has occasional flecks of jazz, while McKeown's
personal literary influences are very much in evidence with several of the tracks
being based on extracts from literature or folklore. There is, really, not a
bad track on the album, so preference is personal, but among my favourites are
"River" and "Chances Are". "River" has tremors of Gemma Hayes's melodic style,
with soaring lyrics that represent Cuchulainn's lament on the death of his brother
Ferdia, who died at his hand. "Chances Are", a bitter song of love lost, has
a gorgeous chorus (note Johnny Cunningham on fiddle). However, it is worth investigating
this album for "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" alone. Emily Dickinson's
poignant poem is here put to music, in a most simple and effectual manner. Add
to this the sublime vocals from both McKeown and Natalie Merchant and the sum
is really something special and very moving indeed. Definitely the most beautiful
track on an album packed with great songs.
Homepage of the artist: www.susanmckeown.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
An Tor "Buds in Winter"
No. LLCD1-001; 2002; Playing time: 20.46 min
Every so often there comes a nice little musical surprise in the post…and "Buds
in Winter" from one of Germany's (arguably the continent's) most respected bands
specialising in Irish trad is certainly one of them. A short album, containing
only five tracks, the playing is worthy of any good Irish band, and their compositional
abilities are equally as impressive. The individual members met initially in
1994 in Co. Donegal, and this, the debut album, is the culmination of years
of playing and immersion in the tradition. The set of reels "The Silver Spear/Jerry
Holland's" work very well, with great guitar and bouzouki accompaniment and
lovely box playing - until the closing bars that is, when the band makes the
fatal mistake of introducing a completely unnecessary drum machine-driven beat.
It is quite difficult to see what the point in this actually is, but suffice
it to say that it just does not work. However, they then redeem themselves very
adequately on the following set of jigs, and continue to do so until the very
end, particularly on the closing track, "Buds in Winter". This is the band's
sole composition to make it onto the album, and personally, I would love to
hear more like this on the next outing. Very promising indeed.
Homepage of the artist: www.an-tor.de,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Karie Oberg "Hard Times"
Folk Records; No. nfr3575; 2002; Playing time: 43.25
This is the debut release from vocalist Karie Oberg. With a broad interest in
the vocal traditions of Scotland, Ireland, England and America, Oberg's repertoire
should be extremely rich and diverse. Between the presence of John Wright and
Steve Lehto as co-passengers, and the power and clarity of Oberg's voice, this
album is, on paper at least, an interesting prospect with plenty of things that
could go very right indeed. My main argument against this recording is also
the main argument for it. Oberg's voice is a powerhouse of sound, very forceful
and rousing. There are occasions when the clarity is such that she bears a striking
resemblance to Maura O'Connell. The problem is, she doesn't seem to know when
to tame the force to suit the song, and with songs such as "Raglan Road" on
the album, there is plenty of opportunity for subtlety and creative interpretation.
The unfortunate result is that the tracks tend to run into one another, becoming
something of a mishmash of varying variations on the general theme of loudness.
Take "Ballybay" for example. With minimal drone-effect accompaniment, there
is unfettered space for Oberg to really make something of the song. She sings
at the top of her voice throughout. Having said all of the above, there is a
lot of potential here. It's just that, sometimes, less is more.
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Casey Neill Trio "Portland West"
Recordings; No. APRCD 1044; 2001; Playing time: min
Casey Neill has been on the folk scene for years. His name has been associated,
through collaboration, with the likes of Pete Seeger, Martin Hayes and Johnny
Cunningham. With a voice like gravel, and the ability to play guitar like a
man possessed, this live, warts 'n' all recording should appeal to a wide audience.
Country, rock and bluegrass are all given the best in trad treatment, and the
listener can gorge themselves on a wealth of styles and boundless energy. There
are only two tracks devoted to straight up trad. "The Kerfuntan Set" sees both
Zak Borden on mandolin and Hanz Araki on flute play like demons. One of the
most interesting tracks is the new take on Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire".
A classic love song, it is here paired with "The Bucks of Orranmore", adding
another dimension to the original and creating an interpretation that draws
further from the well of emotion already present. "Killing Thing" is a stirring
song, with the usual trad twist towards the conclusion with the Hanz Araki breaking
into "Man of Aran". "Riffraff" attracts the loudest response from the audience,
and it is a good-time drinking song, good humoured and frenetic. This album
is just a brief insight into what Casey Neill offers in a live show, and a very
tempting one at that.
Homepage of the artist: www.speakeasy.org/~jlks/casey/,
contact to label: Joevinyl@aol.com
Waterson:Carthy "A Dark Light"
Records; No. TSCD536; 2002; Playing time: 57.03 min
If you imagine an album containing the very best in songs chosen through intense
and heated argument in the Waterson/Carthy household, you would probably be
very excited at the prospect. And you wouldn't be disappointed. With intermittent
support by Martin Simpson on guitar, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Eliza Carthy
and Tim van Eyken here deliver some truly outstanding performances, in Eliza's
case, arguably her most mature yet. Favourites abound. Eliza's rendition of
"May Morning" is truly inspiring. She touches something very deep in the listener
with her velvety performance here. "Death and the Lady" is an altogether darker
affair - the warmth of the vocals and harmonies belying the sinister subject
matter. "Balancy Straw/Seventeen come Sunday/ Whitefriars Hornpipe" is a foot
stomping little set There is a triumphant finale in the guise of "Shepherds
Arise", a tributary salute to the Copper family - I almost found myself rising
to my feet in empathetic praise. How much talent can there be in one family?
A wonderful collection.
Homepage of the artist: www.folkicons.co.uk/wcart.htm,
contact to label: email@example.com
Daithi Rua "Better The Devil You Know"
Label: Lacha Records; LRCD 003; 2002; Playing
time: 40.46 min
Occasionally an album arrives on my desk from Left Field. On the strength of
the CD label, I confess to having no high expectations. However, on exploring
the CD liner lyric pages, I quickly realised that the above-named had surrounded
himself with some quality backing men. Foremost of them being the quite magnificent
Philip Donnelly, a wizard guitarist who I last saw backing John Prine at Cambridge
Folk Festival some years back.
And unlike well-known Belgian musician Philip Masure, whose presence on the
album is fleeting (though he does co-produce), Donnelly really earns his corn
with some inspired stuff. His guitar just adds sheer GRAVITAS to the whole CD.
And to be honest, though Daithi Rua sings well enough, he needs his classy colleagues
to help give the album "weight". And the reason it seems a little
lightweight, is the age-old one. The answer lies in the material.
The majority of the songs are penned by Daithi Rua, and although they are all
decent enough songs, none of them really lodge themselves in your head (let
alone your heart). Perhaps the bravest effort was his song likening the children
caught up in the Belfast Troubles to kids in gangs in inner-city American ghettos.
But he couldn't quite pull it off.
But the CD is a brave attempt that is very good on the ear. Just not quite providing
the mental food that one needs.
Homepage of the artist: www.daithirua.com
John Lester "Live at the Freight and Salvage
Midnight Café Records, MCR 4001; 2002
I confess that this man is a name new to me. He is an American who splits his
time between two Continents: he has bases in San Francisco and Paris. \par \par
And no, he is not - you might be relieved to know - yet another guitarist armed
with three chords and (their version of) the truth. No he is a much rarer fish:
he accompanies himself on his self-penned songs by playing acoustic double bass
and electric fretless bass.
So straight away, his "novelty value" makes one sit up and take notice.
And what is it that one notes?
Well the first thing that hits you is that this is a man with a real voice.
Essentially a baritone, but one with a glorious upper register. And then you
observe that this man plays his bass with considerable authority. And then that
he surrounds himself with some decent musicians. But then comes the big "but"!
The truth is that one then observes that the "songs" are slight affairs.
For sure, they are not without a certain charm: "I Like Brunettes"
had me really won over. But they are more "mood setters" than songs:
they are ideal late at night, just you and your girlfriend and a bottle of wine,
or maybe some "whacky baccy"! Put this on the CD player, and it is
Artist phone contact: US (001)415-273-1810; France (33) 1 45 75 9379
fil campbell "beneath the calm"
Label: Lahaina LMP 008; 2002
Isn't it strange how artistes these days often refrain from using capital letters
for their album titles? But here we have a veritable e.e.cummings: this lady
dispenses with their use in her name also. Leastwise, on the cover of her CD:
the liner lyric sheets see her bowing to convention.
Now, at the outset, let me ask myself if I am as "mixed up" in my
reaction to this CD as the artiste would seem to be, in the marketing of her
"brand name"? The answer is no. After three plays, I am confident
in the clarity of my reaction.
But that said, the truth is that this is a curater's egg of a CD. Some aspects
of it are very good indeed: but, like a glorious edifice, it needs to be built
on the soundest of foundations, and it is there that my doubts lie.
Okay, what do you want first? The 'good', or the 'not-so-good'? Well, I will
choose FOR you, as the former far exceeds the latter. So let's look at the bright
aspects. Pre-eminent in the 'plus column' is Fil Campbell's voice. It is not
the classic modern female 'folk' voice: it is softer (less hard-edged) than
average and oscillates a little. (Oscillates PLEASANTLY, that is.) I knew it
was a voice that reminded me of someone from the past, but I could not think
just who it was. And then it came to me: her fellow Irishwoman, Mary O' Hara.
A woman who achieved considerable international fame.
And on the evidence of this album, there is no reason why Fil Campbell too,
cannot really make her mark. Certainly, if she does, I would suggest she hang
on to her backing musicians: they are a capable bunch. Too many to mention in
depth, but suffice to say that the highlights were the cello of Anne Murnaghan,
the backing vocals of Tom McFarland, and (best of all) the keyboards of Gavin
Murphy. That organ sound was worthy of a place with Dylan's cohorts "The
Band", in their full pomp.
The songs are mainly self-penned: of the others the best is Mick Hanly's "Somebody
Up There", which she wisely chooses as an opener. Her songs are thoughtful,
expressive of mood, and show a real sensitivity. But here we come to the 'minus'
column. \par \par
You see, the plain fact is that for all their apparent charm, none of her songs
(or anyone else's come to that: INCLUDING Mick Hanly's) really grab you. Gosh
this is a nice CD to listen to: one could imagine it would be a perfect accompaniment
for all sorts of occasions. But in the end, it all comes down to the SONGS.
After I had already played the album once, I got an e-mail from her to tell
me that "I Still Think of You" was written for her father, and "Lover's
Eyes" was written as though it was her native Northern Ireland that was
the authorial voice. I had guessed the former, but would never have guessed
the latter; though when I had been given the information, the song did grow
(Which leads me to think that a singer with her excellent diction should have
no need to provide lyric sheets: that space would MUCH better be taken up with
her helping us get an entry into every song, by some personal notes on the creative
But as I was saying, it is not as though there is anything WRONG with these
songs: it is just that they are not right ENOUGH.
I can remember the 60s. And I reckon the young Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Paul Simon
and Joni Mitchell etc have a lot to answer for. And here is for why. When you
bought their early albums, songs would just JUMP OUT at you. You got the sensation
that the songs had forced their way out of their GUTS, not their heads. The
songs were so special and invariably had a particularly distinctive melody,
often coupled with a strong narrative thread.
Suddenly every folkie felt they had to write their own songs. But they invariably
were CEREBRAL efforts, and did not 'write themselves', as the best songs (in
Many folk CDs contain poorer songs than those on this album, but the songs here
share that lack of the 'really distinctive tune' and the 'compelling story'.
But all is not lost: were Fil Campbell to spread her net wider and produce an
album of really fine songs from little-known songwriters (and not just songs
of friends, as I suspect some of these are) then I feel sure she could make
a big breakthrough.
Indeed, if she wants to ask me, I am prepared to help her out with some suggestions.
Oh, and one final thing: please Fil, include 'track timings' on your next album.
If you want radio plays, you will find that DJs regard this info as ESSENTIAL.
Homepage of the artist: www.filcampbell.co.uk,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Various Artistes "Shining Bright"
Records, TSCD519; 2002; Playing time: 50.40 min
For Christmas 1972, I was given a copy of the newly released "Bright Phoebus"
LP, recorded for Bill Leader's TRAILER label. It consisted of songs by Lal and
Mike Waterson, largely performed by themselves, but with assistance from a stellar
bunch of (even THEN) Folk Greats. And, a bit like the man in the Pear's Soap
advertisement, for the next two years, when it came to LPs, I virtually used
But it is a tribute to the quality of the vinyl Bill Leader used, when I say
that I have just played the LP for the first time in several years, and it sounds
as good as it did nearly 30 years ago.
Why take it down from my vinyl shelf after such an age? Simple. This new CD
is an attempt to revisit some of the original songs, plus others written by
the duo around the same time, but not previously recorded. So I wanted to compare
The new CD involves an even greater number of the Folk Glitterati, and I found
it compelling listening. But although such artistes as Christy Moore, Dick Gaughan,
and Christine Collister are almost incapable of doing anything LESS than "the
magical" with a song, I have to tell you that the album suffers slightly
And here is why. Obviously (and lamentably) there is no Lal. She was ALWAYS
my favourite singer amongst the four members of The Watersons. Her loss was
a great one.
But at least we could have had my second favourite voice from that foursome:
Mike Waterson. Alas, for some odd reason, he does not appear until the fifteenth
and last track (and then only as one-seventh of Blue Murder). And let's get
one thing straight: nobody sings a Mike Waterson song like Mike Waterson.
That said, there is only one Mike Waterson solo composition here: they are mainly
Lal's songs, but with three Lal/Mike compositions and three Lal/Christine Collins.
It is interesting now to reflect that there was never any doubt whether it was
a Lal or a Mike song you were listening to. Just as with songs apparently jointly
written by Lennon and McCartney, you could immediately spot the song-writing
fingerprints of one over the other. (As a rule of thumb, Lal's songs are more
oblique: Mike's more direct.)
The CD is worth buying for two reasons over and above any others. First Teddy
Thompson: Linda's son by Richard. I knew he had made the pop charts, but I had
never heard him perform. Here he duets with his ma on"Evona Darling".
Golly, that boy can sing!
And second, the high point of the album comes from two of the less celebrated
performers: Kate Brislin & Jody Stecher. They really steal the show with their
sweet harmonies on "One Of Those Days".
And it is SOME show to steal.
Zjamoel "Het eerste Kwartier"
Label: own label; 2002; Playing time: 48.12
Zjamoel hail from Flanders in Belgium - five guys playing happy instrumental
music. And even if their info letter says they have been arround for 25 years
now - I have never heard of them before this CD arrived. And that is a pity.
Their music is relaxed with a touch of oldish style in new arrangements. Most
of the tunes are composed by band member Dirk Vandamme / Zjamoel, four tunes
are traditional arranged. Zjamoel are Hendrik Calu (fiddle), Franki Deprez (accordeon,
feet), Hans Mispelaere (guitar), Dirk Vandamme (clarinet, windcontroller, bagpipe,
percussion) and finally Paul Vandamme (flute, windcontroller, bagpipe and tin
whistle).For this CD they have added drums and bass.
With this music it is easy to dream the day away - hopefully it will not take
another 25 years before I hear again from them...
Homepage of the artist: http://www.zjamoel.be/,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Lorraine Jordan "This big feeling"
Label: Unforgettable Music; UM002; 2000; Playing
time: 52.10 min
Singer-Songwriters need to write good songs, have a good voice for their songs
and should be able to back themselves with guitar (or use a good guitar player
as backing) - Lorraine Jordan has all these skills. She has a powerful voice
full of emotions - and she can present her songs very well.
Lorraine has a somehow pan-celtic background - she was born in Wales to Irish
parents and she has lived in Scotland for many years.
On this album she has invited some guests to back her songs with cello (Kate
Bevan-Baker), bouzouki (Niall O'Callanain), accordion (Pete Garnet), percussion
(Mario M'goma), guitar (Jimmy Faulkner) and backing vocals (Christine Kydd);
Lorraine herself plays guitar and bouzouki and of course she sings.
Lorraine is a powerful songwriter - if you do not know her by now, give her
Homepage of the artist: http://www.musicscotland.com/lorrainejordan,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roff CD 026; 2001; Playing time: 60.04min (but the first 17min are without
It is not to easy to find here in the most western part of Germany good Russian
folk music, which is one of the reasons why I am very happy to got in touch
with Mitya Kouznetsov of the Russian group Raznotravie. Raznotravie blends Russian
folk music with influences of world music, ancient music, avantgarde and much
more. The group was founded in 1997; almost all members have remained in the
band since then. In 2000 multiinstrumentalist and folk musician Mitya Kouznetsov
joined them. Together they found a new sound which is presented on this album.
Raznotravie come from Rybinsk in theYaroslavl region in Russia. The group consist
of seven members: Mikhail Posadsky (vocal, jaw harp, folk-whistle), he writes
most of the songs; Vyacheslav Kamenkov (acoustic guitar, domra, backing vocal)
arranges a lot and also writes songs; Anna Kouznetsova (Kholodyakova) (hurdy-gurdy,
backing vocal, folk winds, percussion); Mitya Kouznetsov (vocal, svirel [russian
whistle], jaleika [russian reedpipe], flute, gusli [russian psaltery], mandolin,
jaw harp, folk percussion) is the producer, composer and sound engenieer; Alexandra
Nikitina (chello); Valery Ershov (acoustic bass-guitar, backing vocal) and finally
Pavel Davydovich on drums and percussion.
I like their music a lot, it is unconventional and fresh, with a lot of variations.
The album has a CD ROM part, where you can find out a bit more about the band,
watch some pictures and some videos...
A great album; hopefully we will have the chance to see them live soon!
Homepage of the artist: http://www.raznotravie.rdc.ru/,
contact to artist: email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, contact to label: email@example.com
Urbàlia Rurana & Maurizio Martinotti
"Territories amables/Teritori amabil"
Ethnosuoni; ES5318; 2002; Playing time: 55.58 min
This album is a collaboration of one of the best Catalan bands, Urbalia Rurana
from the Spanish Valencia region, and the leader of the well known Italian band
La Ciapa Rusa, Maurizio Martinotti. The music represents a mixture of music
from Valencia and from the Italian Piemont. The background information I can
give about this album are a bit guess work, as the CD booklet is in four different
langauages, where I hardly could said what languages they are (my guess is Italian,
Spanish, and Piemont and Valencia dialects?!). Maurizio and Urbalia Rurana seem
to have seen quite a few cultural and musical similarities, based on similar
landscape and climates around them. This seemed to be a very good reason to
venture into an exciting collaboration.
Urbàlia Rurana features violin/clarinette/derbuka, percussion, flute/dolcaina/tarota
(whatever those might be; guess is - from the sound - some form of bombarde),
soprano sax/dolcaina , guitar/bouzouki/vocals and double bass. Maurizio adds
to this line-up hurdy-gurdy, mandola and vocals. The album is consistent, and
does not feel like being a cross-over between two different traditions. The
material is based on songs from both traditions. The vocals are rather soft,
making the CD overall pleasant listening, although at times a bit more sharpness
in the singing would have helped. The instrumental side of the album is very
well played, providing at times an innovative, at other times a more traditional
feel to the music. The focus of the instruments on hurdy-gurdy and bombarde-like
instruments makes the music at times a bit shrill.
An interesting collaboration, well worth a listen.
Colum Sands & Sharon Aviv "Talking to the
Label: Spring Records; SCD1048; 2002; Playing
This CD brings together one of Ireland's most gifted singer/songwriters, Colum
Sands, and the Jewish story teller Sharon Aviv. The overall theme are seperated
(religious) communities from Belfast to Jerusalem. This theme is taken up with
a sense of humour, showcasing the stupidity of the everyday life in these communities.
The songs and stories provide material to think, but also to smile and laugh.
The album changes between songs from Colum and stories from Sharon, each number
supported by the other. The songs include some of Colum Sands' old and new classics,
great songs full of charme, humour, but often with a serious message behind
them: "Talking to the Wall", "Whatever you say say nothing",
"Directions", "The Night is young". There is additionally
a collaboration between Colum and Sharon, with words in Hebrew by Sharon and
in English by Colum, sung to an Irish traditional tune. Sharon's stories come
from all over the world: the Middle East, Jewish traditions, Uruguay, Ireland
(Fionn MacCumhaill), Indian traditions. As good as Sharon seems to be as a storyteller,
to me storytelling from a CD is not the same as the live experience; storytelling
has only the full appeal if you are in the same room as the story teller.
The CD is lovely for a quiet winter evening in front of the open fire, listening
to the songs and stories from Colum and Sharon. I have to admit though that
for me a CD with stories will not too regular end up in my CD player - songs
can be heard again and again, while stories are only fun when heard again after
a longer while. So to conclude: I enjoyed to listen through the whole CD once,
but will in future programme only the seven songs of the CD. For fans of songs
from the Sands Family this album is nevertheless recommended.
Still, better go and catch Sharon Aviv & Colum Sands live!
More information on the backgrounds of the album in FolkWorld's
News. Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bollywood Brass Band "Rahmania - the music
of A.R. Rahman"
BOLL CD 2002; 2002; Playing time: 73.43 min
The Bollywood Brass Band is one of those bands I would never have discovered
if I had not bumped into them at the Rudolstadt Folk Festival. The Bollywood
Brass Band plays Indian film music, a label which would sound to me quite boring,
as I am generally neither into Indian nor into film music. The BBB are different
to what I would expect - this is intelligent, lively, powerful and innovative
music, easily accessible also for the European ear. And the history of the band
shows that the band members themselves were surprised to find they would become
an Indian wedding brass band...
Brass bands have in today's Indian culture a central role, especially playing
for weddings, with a repertoire based on Bollywood music, film music of the
Bollywood Indian films.
The BBB combines the talents of 11, mainly English rooted, musicians, eight
of them playing brass instruments (saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tuba, sousaphone,
flugelhorn), added by three percussionists. In live this band is a unique experience,
full of energy and passion. This second album of the band presents this live
feeling rather well, also this CD is full of energy, talent and happiness. The
music focusses on the works of the Indian film music composer A.R. Rahman, and
his style combines diverse music styles, such as World Music, Jazz, Brass Band,
Film music, and much more. The BBB interpretations of his works make exciting
and varied listening.
Additionally to their usual music that they play in live, the band have added
four tracks that act more as 20 minutes of bonus tracks. For those numbers,
they asked famous UK remixers and Club DJs (Transglobal Underground; Kamel Nitrate;
Groove Road) to create remixes of four tracks from the CD. I prefer the pure
BBB sound, although I am sure that these collaborations might open the band
doors to even wider audiences.
If you like Brass based folk and world music, you should give the Bollywood
Brass Band a try. This is a magnificent and impressive album.
Homepage of the artist: www.bollywoodbrassband.co.uk,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Brendan Begley "It Could Be A Good Night Yet!"
Label: Own; CDBOB 01; 2002; Playing time:
This is old-style button box and pure traditional song from Kerry's Dingle peninsula.
There's plenty of energy, plenty of good music, and plenty of humour too from
a time-served musician and showman. Brendan's third solo recording includes
five songs, evenly split between English and Gaelic, and eight sets of tunes
with the emphasis on Munster forms: there's only the one set of reels to be
found here, but plenty of jigs and polkas.
Among many fine tracks, I'd draw your attention to four outstanding ones. First
is a song which is well known in Irish as Níl Na Lá, but which Brendan renders
mainly in English. There's gentle comedy to the story, which describes a lifestyle
of drinking and music-making all too rare nowadays. The English version goes
by the name There's the Day, and came to Brendan from his Boys of the Lough
colleague Cathal McConnell.
Second is that lone set of reels, into which Brendan puts all the power of his
bosca beag. Well-known tunes all, they are seldom played with more bite. Ed
Reavy's Hunter's Purse is punched out in double octaves, The Green Mountain
is given extra depth by Brendan's left hand, the mighty Fear a'Tigh swaggers
out majestically, and Matt Peoples' Reel completes the quartet with some meaty
harmonies. You won't find flash modern triplets here: Brendan sticks to good
old-fashioned rolls and trills.
My third choice starts with another Boys of the Lough connection. The Shetland
jig The Full Rigged Ship was originally intended to convey the rolling motion
of a sea-going vessel, but Brendan gives it a more stately interpretation here.
It's followed by two jigs learnt from Johnny O'Leary, and played with all the
vigour of the Sliabh Luachra tradition. Tom Billy's Jig is known throughout
Ireland, and although Ellen Leary's is new to me it stands up well to its heavyweight
You can't judge a Kerry box-player without hearing a set of polkas, and the
one which ends this recording is as good as any. The three tunes here all commemorate
Munster musicians: Jack Sweeney's, Jack Connell's, and John Clifford's are lovely
polkas expertly played by Brendan. The tunes and the dance rhythm both come
through loud and clear, with some nice little twists. Most of this recording
is gentle, unassuming music played for the pleasure of playing. This makes the
occasional changes of gear all the more striking. There is some accompaniment
on most tracks, but you wouldn't notice it if you weren't looking: to me, that's
the hallmark of excellent accompaniment. Brendan is already well established
as a fine box player in the Munster/Connaught style, and this latest CD maintains
that reputation with apparent ease.
If you can't find a copy locally, jump up and down in your favourite record
shop until they get it - or just email Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org
and ask him if he'd be good enough to sell you one.
More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 -
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5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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