Issue 26 10/2003
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Fênix "eu, causa e efeito"
Records; CD4461; 2002
An enjoyable CD, yet very difficult to pigeonhole. Fênix is a Brazilean
singer and composer. He has an attractive and sensitive, yet very feminine voice
and singing style. Stylistically he moves between many different styles: Pop,
World, Salsa, Brazilean, Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, Classical, Varieté.
Accompanied by instruments such as violins, piano, accordion, percussion, bass,
cello, flutes and on the first title also brass instruments, he weaves a beautiful
soundscape around his voice. Most of the songs are in Brazilean language, completed
by two English songs, one written by Fênix, the other Peter Gabriel's "Mercy
An album creating a beautiful warm and relaxed atmosphere, with music without
stylistic borders. Wonderful for a romantic evening...
Homepage of the artist: www.jfenix.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Various Artists "Let Scotland Flourish
- The bright young stars of Scottish traditional music"
Tapes; No.CDFSR1718; 2003
The Scottish tourist market is large, so why not offer some decent music for
the tourists? "Let Scotland Flourish" is a compilation showcasing
the CD catalogue of Foot Stompin Records, the record label run by concertina
wizard Simon Thoumire. The compilation makes pleasant listening, and provides
a broad range of Scottish music, from very traditional to modern. The focus
is on Scotland's young traditional music scene - bands and musicians include
Cantrip, Back of the Moon, Fine Friday, Emily Smith, Keep it up, Croft No. Five,
Corrina Hewat, Finlay MacDonald. Liz Doherty and Claire Mann bring some Irish
dimension into the album, while I am sure Margaret Bennet will be flattered
to be among the "bright young stars" of Scottish traditional music.
Only criticism of the album is the sparse information about the acts represented.
A great souvenir for Scotland tourists, giving a great introduction into quality
Scottish music. And not only tourists will enjoy this album; I am sure that
many folk fans will make quite a few discoveries with this album.
Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell "Simple Tricks"
No. CDLD1310; 2003
This is a highly inspiring CD of Scottish instrumental folk music at its very
best. Angus and Ruaridh are two excellent young musicians, with a lot of feeling
and passion for their music. Angus plays on this album piano and accordions,
while Ruaridh plays violin and viola. The two give each other plenty of room
to showcase their skills, yet their playing together is rather perfect. Both
also compose music in the traditional style; in fact their own compositions
are the highlights of this album. To help them a bit out, some guests appear
on the album, most notably Fraser Spiers with his distinctive harmonica playing.
A brilliant album of traditional Scottish music with that special twist which
makes it exciting and memorable.
Birkin Tree "3(three)"
No. fy8059; 2003
Irish Folk at its very best from this four piece band, with a beautiful and
skilfully played blend of flute, uillean pipes/whistle, fiddle/guitar and piano/sax/keys.
"3(three)" is based on traditional tunes from Ireland, mixed with
a few contemporary compositions from Irish and Italian composers, mainly in
traditional style. The tunes are a balanced mixture of fast and gentle quiet
tunes. The music gets its distinctiveness particularly from the exciting use
of piano and sax in traditional tunes.
The music speaks for itself, and there is no indication (other than the musicians'
names) that this band is not of Irish origin, but actually based in Italy. Birkin
Tree's high quality music is already reputed in the Irish musicians' scene,
and the band managed to convince two great Irish singers, Niamh Parsons (with
"Carrickfergus") and Cyril o'Donoghue ("The foxy devil")
to guest on this recording for one song each.
A discovery, well worth to check out for all Irish music fans!
Homepage of the artist: www.birkintree.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Lisa Ekdahl "Heaven, Earth and beyond"
Label: BMG France; No. 74321 973082; 2002
Swedish Jazz/pop/roots singer Lisa Ekdahl ventured in her last albums into Bossa
Nova music, due to her personal and musical relationship to Bossa Nova guitarist
and composer Salvadore Poe. This album is a compilation of music from recent
years plus a few previously unreleased tracks. It only includes Lisa's English
carreer phase; no songs are in Swedish (which is a bit of a shame). The music
is at its best, in my taste, when it is close to Bossa Nova; however, quite
a few songs are jazzy. The selection includes some Jazz classics, such as "It's
oh so quiet" and "My Heart belongs to Daddy" - and no doubt other
Jazz singers have performed better in these songs. I really enjoyed her recent
album "sings Salvadore Poe" (reviewed in
issue 20); compared to that, this compilation, I have to say, sounds very
weak and commercial.
Homepage of the artist: www.lisaekdahl.net
The Poozies "Changed days, same roots"
No. CDTRAX249; 2003; Playing time: 53.27 min
The Poozies these days have the reputation as one of the top acts of the Celtic
music scene. The band's first decade saw two of the most well-known singers
of the English folk scene fronting the band - starting off with the folk pop/rock
singer Sally Barker, the Poozies continued with young folk star Kate Rusby.
When Kate left, they replaced their lead singer with Eilidh Shaw, who did not
provide a singer/songwriter role, yet could offer great Scottish fiddle playing
and a little bit of singing. Their current line-up comprises of Eilidh and the
three original members, Karen Tweed (piano accordion) Patsy Seddon (electro-harp,
clarsach, fiddle, vocals) and Mary MacMaster (electro-harp, clarsach, fiddle
The focus of the band has, obviously, gone slightly away from singing, and completely
from songwriting. Still, there are five songs - two Gaelic ones, one in Polish
(!) and two in English. One of the English songs is sung by Eilidh, whoused
to have no reputation in singing, but does really well. Yet, for me, the Poozies'
strength is definitely in instrumental music, with a beautiful blend of harp,
accordion and fiddle sounds. Compared to earlier albums, the overall sound of
The Poozies has become slightly more traditional and Celtic.
Days have changed, yet the roots have indeed remained the same - the Poozies
still play innovative folk music full of ideas based on Celtic themes.
Label: Tierra Discos; No. TDCD001; 2003
Felpeyu is one of the better known excellent bands from Asturias, the neighbouring
region to Galicia in Northern Spain. Stylistically, Felpeyu's music is quite
similar to that of fellow Asturians, Llan de Cubel, representing a typical Asturian
folk music style.
Instrumentally, the focus of the music is often on the Asturian gaita (bagpipes),
yet Felpeyu have a range of excellent instrumentalists, on 2 fiddles, accordion,
bass/guitar, bodhrán and bouzouki/guitar. The tunes all have a typical
and very pleasant Asturian feeling about them, quite distinctive even from the
music from neighbouring Galicia. Five of the 12 titles on this CD are songs,
sung in a rather soft yet attractive way.
A beautiful showcase album of Asturian music, music that might not be breathtaking
as such, but is still highly attractive in its natural and true way.
Homepage of the artist: www.felpeyu.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
El Nombre "Poetry of Rhythm"
Label: Own; Demo-CD; 2002
El Nombre, based in Merseyside in England, base their music on Flamenco, but
combine it with Indian and contemporary music. The central figure of the band
is the Flamenco guitarist, Daniel Cortés. He is joined by two tabla players,
Parvinder Bharat and Harprit Sahota, as well as bass guitarist Tobias Fleischer.
This multicultural line-up creates interesting music crossing plenty of boundaries,
whilst always referring to Flamenco music. The tablas blend well into the Flamenco
This 7-track demo album gives an overview of the band's programme. It is featuring,
additional to the core band, also a Flamenco singer, Juan Antonio Hildago. For
my personal taste, the music gets a bit much after a while, particularly due
to the combined tablas and Flamenco guitar. Still, I appreciate this as an exciting
Contact to artist: email@example.com
Danny Guinan & red "live"
Label: Fingerprint Music/dbproductions; No.
Danny Guinan's last CD, "If I was wise", was selected by the FolkWorld
editors as second best CD of the year 2002 (see
issue 25). This live album proves that Danny and his Dutch band Red can
also produce similarly attractive music in live.
Danny has created over the last decade his own style of Irish folk pop, in a
very accessible and exciting way. His carreer started with the excellent but
underrated band Speranza; the Dutch band Red is basically the follow-up project
to Speranza. Red features some of the best Celtic musicians of the Dutch scene,
including Ronald De Jong (double bass), Siard de Jong (fiddle, bouzouki, mandolin)
and Onno Cuipers (accordion), plus percussion and guitars.
This live album presents five songs from the CD "If I was wise", as
well as a welcome return of the Speranza hit "Before I'm 30", a couple
of wild instrumental tunes (including "the flintstone set" with the
Flintstones title song!!), and with "Yesterday's here" a completely
different side of Speranza, more based on Blues. Overall, the songs come over
in a more rough, natural and party style than the studio songs on "If I
was wise". Some numbers, particularly the finishing number "nuns 'n
guns", are very reminiscent of the early and wild Speranza times, reminding
me of Speranza's cracking very first tape with its shrill and wild sound.
This is a great and convincing album full of attractions, and for fans definitely
an essential addition to the CD collection.
Homepage of the artist: www.dannyguinan.com,
contact to artist and label: firstname.lastname@example.org
North Cregg "Summer at my feet"
No. CDTRAX250; 2003
Another high profile addition to the Scottish Greentrax label, North Cregg have
a reputation as an energetic and hard working Irish traditional band. The musical
quality and power of North Cregg's performance is easily proved by the fact
that Greentrax' record boss Ian Green was "totally knocked out by North
Cregg" when he saw them at the famous Tønder Festival - and Ian
needs some convincing to be impressed by Irish bands!
New to the talented bunch of musicians is with Fiona Kelleher a very fine singer,
with beautiful clear voice. "Summer at my feet" features 5 songs sung
by Fiona, mostly in English language. The remaining 7 numbers present North
Cregg as the energetic instrumental band that has made them famous. Always central
to the music is accordionist Christy Leahy, joined by the skilled musicians
Ciarán Coughlan (piano, harmonium), Paul Meehan (banjo, guitar, mandolin),
Caoimhin Vallely (fiddle, piano) and Martin Leahy (drums, percussion).
With the addition of a brill singer, North Cregg have achieved what was still
missing for them to be rather perfect. What a superb addition to the Greentrax
Homepage of the artist: www.northcregg.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Annbjørg Lien "Aliens Alive"
No. GRCD4178; 2002
Annbjørg Lien is probably the internationally best known Norwegian folk
artists, and she has the perfect assets as such - she not only plays superb
music, she is also young and pretty. Annbjørg plays the Hardanger fiddle,
a unique Norwegian instrument with a stunningly beautiful sound.
"Aliens Alive" is a live CD of Annbjørg and her band. It presents
a very wide range of music styles, from traditional via new age and programming
to exciting folk rock. Annbjørg is joined on the album by, among others,
the brilliant Väsen guitarist Roger Tallroth, Bjørn Ole Rasch on
keyboards and samples, Hans Frederik Jacobson, a great flautist. Apart from
these, you will find percussion and some vocals on the album
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this album - it has its most
impressive moments, with beautiful and inspirational music. This is in particular
when the Hardanger fiddle is in the centre of the music. At other (more seldom)
times, when the music becomes too experimental based on programming or goes
too much towards New Age, I have my doubts about it.. Still, for me, the pleasing
moments definitely weigh out the in my opinion weaker ones.
Homepage of the artist: www.annbjorg.no,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Christy O Leary & Bert Deivert "Song's
Label: Own; HDCD01; 2003
An album from Sweden, even though both musicians are not of Swedish origin.
Christy O Leary from Kerry, Ireland, became famous on the Celtic scene as long
term member of the Boys of the Lough. Bert Deivert is a guitarist with US American
background. Both musicians are currently resident in Sweden, and have started
to play together. "Song's sweet caress" is the result of this collaboration.
Christy has a beautiful, warm and calm voice, singing traditional Irish songs.
He is also an extraordinary uilleann piper and whistle player. Bert accompanies
him on guitars and bouzouki. The album presents a beautiful collection of mainly
traditional Irish songs and tunes, played by two highly skilled musicians.And
for those who are more collecting records than CDs: Song's Sweet Caress is the
first CD by a major Irish traditional artist completely recorded and produced
Homepage of the artist: www.deivert.com/oleary.html,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Corrina Hewat "My favourite Place"
Tapes; No.CDFSR1719; 2003
Corriana Hewat forms half of the successful Scottish folk jazz duo Bachue, with
pianist David Milligan. "My favourite Place" is Corrina's first solo
She is an excellent and imaginative harpist, as well as a sensuous singer with
a delightful voice. Her music is full of ideas and improvisation, with its own
distinctive style of swinging folk. The five songs on this album have all some
potential to stay for quite a while in the listeners head, each of them yet
being very different. The traditional "Sheath and knife" as an exciting
swing to it; "The Banks of The Nile", another traditional, is sung
in a very traditional a capella style. A terrificly beautiful version of Robert
Burns "Ae Fond Kiss", the jazzy song "When I dream" and
finally Corrina's impressive song "A raft of oak". Apart from the
songs, there are plenty of tunes, again with lots of improvisation on the electroharp,
and in their very own distinctive style.
Corrina is skilfully joined by David Milligan on piano, Donald Hay on drums
and Malinky's Karine Polwart on backing vocals. A beautiful album full of moods,
blue, swinging, thougtful, cheerful, romance...
Homepage of the artist: www.corrinahewat.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Joseph Cormier & J.P. Cormier "Velvet Arm
Records; PR002; 2002
An album that brings the traditional Cape Breton house parties to life - this
is fresh and spontaneous music, full of enthusiams and joy. The album combines
studio recorded tunes with recordings from a session, yet all have a live atmosphere.
This is the first album that sees J.P Cormier performing together with his uncle,
Joseph Cormier. Both play the violin, J.P. also plays piano, guitar, bass etc.
They are joined by Hilda Chasson-Cormier on piano, and in the three live session
numbers also by Gervais Cormier and Gelas Gelarde, both guitar. The love of
playing together comes clearly through in the interplay between Joseph and J.P.
A top quality album of Cape Breton fiddle music, in the most traditional way.
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Salsa Celtica "El Agua de la Vida"
No. CDTRAX250; 2003; Playing time 46.37
This album is great fun, full of lively and happy music. Salsa Celtica are a
sensational band mixing Salsa with Scottish traditional music themes. The line-up
is a combination of some top Scottish folk musicians (Fraser Fifield - sax,
pipes, whistle, Kenny Fraser and Christ Stout - both fiddle), a loud brass section
(saxes, trumpets), salsa percussion (bongos, congas) plus bass and a salsa singer,
Lino Rocha. Overall, on this album, the salsa influence is stronger than the
Celtic dimension; a salsa version of Auld Lang Syne is the most Scottish element.
Yet the combination of brass with folk instruments is magnificent, and the band
is full of ideas how to make the music even more exciting.
The ultimate CD for a hot evening of superb music!
Homepage of the artist: www.salsaceltica.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Panta Rhei "StriDes"
No. WBM21037; 2003
As one of the many bands of the new Belgian folk scene, Panta Rhei combines
six magnificent musicians with a love for experimenting. For my taste, Panta
Rhei are at their best with their full instrumentation, and when staying closer
to traditional music, with the experimenting not too much at the centre of the
music. I love the first few numbers of the album - the first is based on Romanian
dances and has a very lively flair, "Polskapal" is a beautiful and
exciting interpretation of the Swedish Polska. Triptiek starts in a slow manner,
but moves over to a very lively tune. I love the interwoven playing of flute
and accordion in Polskapal; in other numbers, the saxophone adds an exciting
element to the music. The other instruments of Panta Phei are cello, guitar,
perccussion and double bass.
Their range of music is trly trans-European, with tunes based on Scandinavian,
Eastern European, French, Irish music. A lot of the music is either individually
interpreted or composed by band members. Some of the tunes are for my taste
too experimental. Still, there is plenty to enjoy in this music. An inspiring
Homepage of the artist: www.pantarheimusic.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Riccardo Tesi & Maurizio Geri "Acqua Foco
No. fy8060; 2003
This album presents the song traditions of a distinctive small region in Italy,
encompassing the Pistoian mountains and Lower Tuscany. With Riccardo Tesi and
Maurizio Geri, this project has two highly talented musical directors, with
a keen interest of bringing old Italian traditions to life, in a new make-up.
Riccardo, the excellent melodeon player, has put together this project, working
in close co-operation with singer and guitarist Maurizio Geri, who plays also
in Riccardo's Banditaliana. Other musicians involved in this great CD project
play sax, cello, double bass, frame drums, piano/keyboards, percussion. Some
songs see Maurizio duetting with the beautiful female voice of Anna Granata.
The album features 18 traditional Tuscan songs, usually centred on the warm
and pleasant voice of Maurizio, but with exciting arrangements breathing new
and fresh life into the old songs.
This is one of those albums that grows onto you when listening to it again and
again - probably, because some of the arrangements are rather complex. I am
now at a stage of loving this album, listening to it again and again, falling
for the charming spell that this music has in it, and discovering each time
new details. So an album not only of cultural interest, but also highly enjoyable.
Two things still left to mention - the European Union has co-funded this music
project with LEADER II money, to support the development and promotion of local
culture. And finally, the booklet is full of information, in a good layout.
Homepage of the artist: www.riccardotesi.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com, contact
to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Various Artistes: "Milagro Acustico"
Label: Tinder Records; CD861082; 2002; Playing
time: 49:17 mins
Gosh, this proved a difficult album to review. So difficult I almost returned
it to the Editors with a request that they re-assign it. And no doubt by the
time they finish reading this, the artistes involved in the making of this CD
will wish I had!
But I did not because I figured that anything less than an honest review from
me would be a dereliction of duty on my part. So here goes:
This is a very unusual album. Bob Salmieri whose "baby" it is (and who wrote
the music and lyrics on all the tracks, bar one) took two years to gather the
guest artistes for this album. And they include some big names from the World
The idea is (and I quote) " to tell some of the numerous stories listened to
in the Café di lu Furestiero, a small imaginary pub in a border village on a
small Sicilian island where emigrants, immigrants, pilgrims and travellers of
all sorts stop before going their way towards other destinations. Sort of imaginary
journey through the suggestions of the stories they hear. The stories are presented
I should say at the outset that I have a penchant for stories told in ballad
form with background conversation also interjecting. I was brought up on Ewan
MacColl's famous and brilliant "Radio Ballads", made for the BBC nearly 50 years
And, you really do have to applaud Bob Salmieri for at least trying something
DIFFERENT. But that said, being "different", per se, is not enough. The question
is, does it succeed as a work of art?
I have to tell you that I do not think it does. I have listened to the album
six times all the way through: which is twice as long as I normally listen to
albums I review. I deliberately gave it extra plays because I felt a lot of
work had gone into the album and it was not for me to dismiss it lightly.
But the fact is that it never "grabbed" me. I don't think that I ever really
BELIEVED in the "island". Okay, so I did not understand the mixture of Sicilian
dialects that one mainly hears, but there are English translations in the liner
booklet. And I have to say that to be honest, were I in this café, I would ask
for the bill and head for the door pronto.
But that's a cheap shot. A lot of work has gone into the album and I cannot
dismiss it with a glib remark like that. So let's look for "positives".
Well, it's an incontrovertible fact that the musicianship is top-drawer. An
impressive command of conventional "Western" instruments as well as more esoteric
ones such as kora, djambe, darbuka etc. Melodically it is an always-interesting
fusion of North Mediterranean and African melodies and rhythms.
But somehow it is not enough. All of the ballads seem to forego memorability.
And it all seems a bit PRETENTIOUS.
Now, it could be that this is really a masterpiece that has passed completely
over my head. It will not be the first - nor the last - time when works of art
have bemused the critics. Who knows, this might well be another Stravinsky's
"The Rite of Spring", or some such?
But if I were Bob Salmieri, I wouldn't hold my breath on the prospect materialising.
Homepage of the artist: www.milagroacustico.com,
contact to artist: email@example.com
Michael Snow "Never Say No To A Jar"
Label: Irish EyeRecords; CD IYE 967; 2003
This is the final instalment of Michael Snow's "Skelly" trilogy. Snow is a Liverpudlian
of Irish stock, whose career in music started in 1962. Since 1973 he has lived
in Nashville, three years after striking gold after penning "Rosetta", a number
one hit single in 9 countries.
Here he surrounds himself with several luminaries including two members of Nanci
Griffith's Blue Moon Orchestra. As a result, the arrangements and execution
of Snow's self-penned songs are a delight to listen to.
The topics covered run the gamut, and a characteristic of his lyric writing
is a certain robust approach to life and a refusal to feel sorry for himself.
It is fair to say that none of these songs would ever become a hit single, but
that may not be the "put-down" it seems. Why? Well because he gives us his hit
"Rosetta" as an unlisted "bonus" track: and the plain fact is that all 14 tracks
here knock it into a cocked hat.
Still, I guess that "Rosetta" has a nostalgic appeal for him. Quite understandable
I don't think that this album will get me rushing to buy its two predecessors
in the trilogy, but that said, it is an enjoyable and honest piece of work.
Homepage of the artist: www.skellysongs.com,
contact to label: Irish Eye Records, PO Box 22908, Nashville, TN 37202-2908
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