Issue 30 01/2005
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Susane Seivane, photos by The Mollis
Stine Michel "Til de elskende"
Records; No. COPECD076; 2003; Playing time: 45.54 min
This is another most pleasant discovery from the Danish music scene. A young
singer/songwriter with an attractive and sexy voice, Stine Michel performs on
this album only her own material, all in her Danish mothers tongue. Danish might,
in general, not be seen as the most beautiful singing language, but Stine proves
that it can be a vehicle for most beautiful songs. The album, translated "To
the lovers", presents 12 songs around the theme of love, stylistically
ranging between folk, jazz, singer/songwriter, world, pop, easy listening. The
arrangements of the songs are closely focussed on the singing, with backing
of acoustic and electric guitars, percussion and double bass. Some songs are
quiet and reflective, other are more tribal or jazzy, but all have their very
own style attached to them. The album often reminds me of Stine's Swedish colleague
Lisa Ekdahl, of the times when Lisa still sang mainly Swedish songs, in her
folk-jazz-pop style which took the Scandinavian music world by storm.
Every single song on "Til de elskende" has a tremendous amount of
charme, and the main credit for this has to go to Stine's exceptional voice.
This is a wonderful CD, for the more quiet hours of the day. No doubt we will
hear of Stine again in due course!
Homepage of the artist: www.stinemichel.dk
Kristine Heebøll "Trio Mio"
Label: Go Danish
Folk Music; No. Go0204; 2004; Playing time: 51.00 min
Staying in Denmark, with another impressive young female folk musician with
her debut solo CD. Kristine Heebøll's "Trio Mio" is an instrumental
album, with music usually based in the Danish tradition, but taking on inspiration
from various other music styles, especially classical, jazz and other Scandinavian
folk traditions. What makes the album stand out is that all tunes are composed
by Kristine, yet each has a lot of character and individuality.
Kristine is not a completely new face on the Danish folk scene, she used to
play in one of Denmark's flagship folk bands, Phønix. Kristine plays
the violin, and her "Trio Mio" is completed by two excellent musicians,
Nicolaj Busk on piano and accordion and Jens Ulvsand (from the Swedish folk
rock band Avåda) on guitar and bouzouki. Additionally, the CD features
guests, including a string quartet, a percussionist, and a guest singer contributing
This is beautiful Danish folk music, of a quality that can easily stand its
ground in the international folk music scene. Another one to watch out for!
Homepage of the artist: www.kristineheeboll.dk,
contact to artist: email@example.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lars Lilholt "De instrumentale"
Label: RecArt Music; No. 5982262; 2004; Playing
time: 65.14 min
Compared to the two performers reviewed above, Lars Lilholt is an "oldie"
in the Danish folk music scene. As one of the best known and (at least in Denmark)
most popular acts of the Danish folk scene, he has since the 1980s his own folk
rock band, the Lars Lilholt Band, known mainly for folk/rock/pop songs in Danish
language. Before that, in the late seventies, he worked in the band "Kraen
As the title of this CD already says, this album features only instrumental
music, assembled from the various albums Lars has recorded over the last 26
years both with the Lars Lilholt Band and Kraen Bysteds. Most fo the tunes on
the album have traditional Danish roots, or have been composed by Danish musicians
in the 18th and 18th century. I have to admit that a lot of the material on
this album sounds rather dated to me, stylistically based on European folk rock
from the 70s, such as Steeleye Span. Even the newest material, recorded in 2001
and 2003, is no exception. Correspondingly is the line-up featured on the album,
with a strong focus on mandolin, fiddle, drums and bass. Even though there is
some really nice material on the CD, I found this album overall a bit bland.
The instrumentals might be fun to have as part of a concert, or as the instrumentals
on a song based CD, but on their own they are a bit much. Listening to the CD
with headphones, I also noticed that the CD has no high stereo standards, making
it unsuitable for discmans and the like.
Alasdair Fraser with Muriel Johnstone &
Natalie Haas "Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle - Vol. 2: Tunes from the life
and land of Robert Burns"
(via Greentrax); No. CUL120; 2004; Playing time: 67.18 min
In 2001, Alasdari Fraser recorded with Paul Machlis the "Legacy of the
Scottish Fiddle - Vol.1", which was a real gem, featuring music from all
important Scottish composers (see FolkWorld
review). It took three years until Alasdair recorded the much awaited second
volume of "Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle", this time with pianist
Muriel Johnstone and cellist Natalie Haas.
Vol. 2 focusses on one particular time in the Scottish music history: the second
half of the 18th century, the life time of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns.
This was the "Golden Age" of music and dance in Scotland, a time when
also the aristocracy and upper class took a keen interest in traditional music.
The style of the album is very much at this upper class level, taking folk music
into a formal environment. Compared to Vol. 1, the music on this album is performed
in a much more restrained and formal way, and focusses more on quieter tunes.
Most tunes played here are linked to songs of Robert Burns, even though most
of them are actually much older tunes, and their original name is quite different
to what they are mainly known as today, based on Burns songs. Alasdair spent
a lot of time researching these tunes, and came across a large number of different
names for the same tunes. The booklet gives some interesting background information
on Scottish music of the 18th century.
Obviously, all the music is perfectly performed, and is always highly pleasant.
If I was to compare Vol.2 with Vol.1, I personally would pick Vol. 1, as this
has for me more life, more passion, more excitement. I am now already awaiting
what Vol.3 will offer - hopefully we will not have to wait another 3 years for
Homepage of the artist: www.alasdairfraser.com,
contact to label: email@example.com
Henrik Jansberg "Signatur"
Label: Go Danish
Folk Music; No. GO0604; 2004; Playing time: 50.22 min
This is one of the new crop of Danish folk musicians deriving from the 5 year
folk music courses at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense. Fiddler Henrik
Jansberg graduated this year, and directly presents his debut CD. On the album,
he presents a mixture of traditional tunes from Denmark and Sweden, as well
as a number of Henrik's compositions, usually close to traditional Scandinavian
and Celtic music. Henrik's playing is technically perfect, both in fast and
slower numbers, and also his compositions work very well. The fiddle is very
central throughout the CD, regularly also solo, while on other tunes, Henrik
is accompanied by guitar, double bass, and percussion.
There is nothing to blame on this album, but somehow I cannot get into the music
- it might be technically perfect, but somehow I feel the music does not have
enough soul and individuality. A good chef usually has a signature dish; yet
I struggle to find on "Signatur" a signature tune for Henrik. Probably
this is only personal taste, and no doubt the quality of the music is very high.
Homepage of the artist: www.jansberg.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org,
contact to label: email@example.com
Faustino Santalices "Gravacións Históricas
de Zanfano 1927-1949"
- Do Fol; No. Do Fol 32; 2004 (1927-1949); Playing time: 45.11 min
Faustino Santalices (1877-1960) was an important figure for Galician folk music,
as a hurdy-gurdy and bagpipe player and researcher. Boa's Do Fol label has now
blown the dust of all the original recordings made of Faustino, and put them
on CD, as a testimony of Galica's musical traditions of the early 20th century.
Faustino had two recording sessions, one in 1927, the other in 1949. He presents
mainly hurdy gurdy accompanying his singing, as well as, from his 1927 recordings,
some bagpipe tunes. The sound quality is as you would expect it from recordings
of that age, so this album is really more for musicians wanting to trace back
the roots of Galician music, or enthusiasts who want to explore the roots of
todays Galician music scene. Praise goes to Boa for releasing this treasure
of musical history, which no doubt is a labour of love rather than a way of
Contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susane Seivane "Mares de Tempo"
- Do Fol; No. Do Fol 35; 2004; Playing time: 53.32 min
One of the new stars of the Galician folk music scene, young piper and singer
Susane Seivane has found already a following well beyond the Spanish borders.
This is already her third CD, recorded with her usual band featuring diatonic
accordion, bouzouki, bass, percussion, drums. Additionally, the band has on
some numbers guests, on harp, saxophone etc. Most of the material is contemporary
original material from Spanish musicans of the folk scene.
Overall, the musical flavour is typical for modern Galician folk music, has
always its edges and excitement, and is performed in a quality second to none.
Apart from plenty of gaita tunes, Susane sings also several songs on the CD,
with a strong and pleasant voice. These contemporary songs (often poems put
to music by Susane= are often more of an attractive Spanish folk-rock-pop style.
This CD is one which is easily accessible to the listener, providing plenty
of top quality Galician music that has its innovative edges, yet follows overall
the same direction as Susane's earlier albums. Nothing completely new, but as
superb as always!
The CD came with a bonus DVD, which is supposed to provide not only plenty of
background information, but also a video clip. I cannot say whether the DVD
is worth its while, as I have to admit that I do not own a DVD player...
Contact to label: email@example.com
Various Artists "The Clear Stream: Guitar Music
From Scotland & Beyond"
No. CDTRAX268; 2004
The gospel of John was once described as a pool in which a child might wade,
but an elephant swim. This lovely album of Scottish guitar music brings that
comparison to mind. Its straightforward appearance masks hidden depths, allowing
it to be experienced at a number of levels. For the casual listener it is a
delightfully easy album, chock full of lovely tunes and good playing: a wonderful
way to pass an hour or so. Yet pay it close attention and you'll be witness
to the development of cutting-edge guitar playing in the Celtic style. Some
of the best in the scene are represented, including pioneers like Dick Gaughan
and the late Tony Cuffe; gun players like Tony McManus; and newcomers like Innes
The project had a more than elephantine gestation period, begun by Greentrax's
Ian Green and guitarist Brian McNeill around 10 years ago. They caught Ossian's
Tony Cuffe in an Edinburgh studio in 1994, but it took the best part of a decade
to get the other guitarists down on tape. Innes Watson for one would be glad
of the delays. He was only 9 years old when the project began!
About half of the pieces chosen are traditional Scottish or Irish tunes. These
include "Da Day Dawns" and "Toss the Feathers", beautifully played by Innes
Watson; "Roslin Castle", given a tenderly syncopated treatment by Jack Evans;
"Scarce o' Tatties", richly ornamented by Brian McNeill; and "The Battle of
Waterloo", simply yet dramatically played by Tony Cuffe.
The other pieces include a mix of traditional-style new tunes and neo-Celtic
works. The former category includes Dick Gaughan's "She of Many Names" and Ivan
Drever's "Leaving Stoer". In the latter category are tunes by Breton guitarist
Soig Siberil and bassist Alain Genty. They join Tony McManus in a couple of
the most adventurous and rivetting sets on the album.
"The Clear Stream" may not quite be a gospel, but it certainly carries good
news for fans of guitar music.
Dave Bainbridge "Veil of Gossamer"
Label: Open Sky; No. OPENVP4CD; 2004
How do you describe the group Iona? Celtic, spiritual, folk-rock, crossover,
retro-progressive? Whatever your answer, it also applies to the new solo album
of Iona co-founder Dave Bainbridge, and is a clear demonstration of one of the
chief sources of that group's creative drive. Bainbridge is a musical polymath.
He wrote, arranged and recorded everything, and played some 20 instruments on
this feast of an album. That's not to deny the brilliant guests he brought to
the table, including Iona friends like vocalist Joanne Hogg, multi-instrumentalist
Troy Donockley (especially on pipes and whistles), drummer Frank van Essen and
bassist Nick Beggs.
There are some very tasty entrees and side-salads, such as solo guitar pieces
"The Seen & the Unseen" and "Seahouses", and the ensemble hymn-like "Until the
Tide Turns". But it's the substantial works, "The Everlasting Hills" (20 minutes)
and "Star-Filled Skies" (15 minutes), that showcase the breadth of Bainbridge's
musical palate. The former is a work of Celtic Christian spirituality written
by David Adam and set to music by Bainbridge. At once intensely earthy and yet
tingling with otherworldliness, it veers from plain chant to intricate 80s style
electric guitar, and baroque church music to rousing symphonic rock. It is a
masterful musical exploration of the seasons of the soul.
The concluding suite, "Star-Filled Skies", includes a wonderful Celtic knees-up,
with drummer van Essen playing folk fiddle, Donockley on uilleann pipes and
whistle, and Bainbridge swapping from bouzouki and mandolin to soaring electric
guitar - Celtic folk-rock at its best. After this brief if breathtaking interlude
the piece ends on the same contemplative note on which it began, with some heavenly
Gaelic singing from Mae McKenna.
To some this album may appear to be a smorgasbord of disparate musical dishes
just tossed together for mere entertainment. To me it is more like a carefully
planned banquet: coherent, challenging and enormously nourishing.
Velvetone "Switchback Ride"
Records; No.CCD 12008
Fans of Quentin Tarantino soundtracks will love this album. Slick, sexy, supercool-
Switchback Ride is the Roots-Rock 'n' Roll quartett Velvetone's third album.
The lads confess to such a wide range of influences, from Johnny Cash and Screamin'
Jay Hawkins, to The Clash, Nick Cave and Roy Orbison, that their sound on this
album is a mixture of Brylcreamed, Hippy-hippy-shake style tracks (check out
"Leave Me Cryin'" and "Cursed (My Senses)") and glitzy, spandex numbers (listen
to the covers of "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" and "Just to Satisfy You").
The band comprise Ray Devaryo on vocals, maracas and rubboard (OK, explain that
one to me!), Tammo Lüers on guitars and farfisa organ, Andy Merck on bass and
backing vocals and Lars Köster on drums, tambourine and backing vocals. Switchback
Ride is a indeed a savage ride across the Americana plains. Not bad, for Germany's
self-proclaimed "best rock 'n' roll band"!
More information on Velvetone can be found on the Crosscut Records website:
Lou Dalfin "L'oste del diau"
If ever there was an Italian equivalent of The Pogues or Mano Negra, then Lou
Dalfin are it. Since their appearance on the Italian Occitan (valley) music
scene in 1982, the band have grown from strength to strength, giving traditional
Occitan music a contemporary facelift and reaching out to a wider public.
The album itself consists of a wonderful selection of bourrée, corente, mazurche
and rigodons, or, in layman's terms, tracks ranging from traditional melodies
played on the hurdy-gurdy, accordion, violin and flutes, to more rowdy, irreverential
rock numbers. The folk interludes are marvellous however (try track 3, "seguida
de rigodons"), and the lyrics aren't bad either!
L'oste del diau is definitely an album worth adding to your collection, and
Lou Dalfin are a band worth checking out. More information is available from
their website: www.felmay.it/8085uk.html.
Music; No.Westpark 87103; 2004
So what if you don't speak Hungarian? Isn't it all in the attitude? Well, these
blood-sucking guys (oops, sorry, three guys and a girl) certainly pack a punch
with their mix of punk-rock, ska and eastern european folk tunes (i.e. Hungarian
speed-folk). Tiborcz Andras, the Pan-like Hungarian lead singer of the band
is accompanied by Nay Isabel, his female partner in crime who also plays the
double bass. Hendrik Maaß' wicked guitar riffs and Thomas Leisner's explosive
drumbeats complete the outfit.
"Igen" is the Transsylvanian's fifth CD to date. Not bad, for a band who've
been together for eight years and toured England, Poland, Switzerland and the
For more information on the blood-thirsty Transsylvanians, check out their devilish
West of Eden "A Stupid Thing to Do"
Label: West of Music; No. WOMCD3
West of Eden are a young Swedish band who write and produce their own blend
of trad Irish / Celtic music combined with a fresh twist of Scandinavian pop.
The result- a sound somewhere between Gothenburg and Galway! "A Stupid Thing
to Do" is their third album, following hot on the heels of two extremely successful
previous releases ("West of Eden" (1997) and "Rollercoaster" (2001)), and a
European tour which saw the band play to appreciative audiences in Holland,
Belgium and (of course) Ireland.
This third album has received pretty rave reviews in their homeland, being thumbed
as "a world class album" (Arbetarbladet) and "simply quite fantastic!" (SLA).
Jenny Schaub's lead vocals are certainly quite remarkable, and the tunes are
pretty listener-friendly, which inevitably leads to a description as the Swedish
answer to The Corrs. Then again, we shouldn't be drawing comparisons at this
stage, would we? Together, the band (Jenny Schaub- lead vocals and accordion,
Martin Schaub- piano, keyboards, guitar, mandolin, dobro, additional accordion,
Oyvind Eriksen - bass, Ola Karlevo- drums and percussion, David Ekh- electric
guitar, ebow, additional acoustic guitar and Tobias Edvardson- fiddle, viola,
backing vocals) create their own unique sound which is their major strength.
The tracks "Flooded", "How I Wish That Something Good Would Happen" and "Haven't
Worked It Out" (especially the latter) should certainly see some airplay on
the alternative/ folk charts. A very listenable album indeed!
More information on West of Eden can be found on their website: www.westofeden.com.
Various Artists "Stockfish Records - Closer
to the Music"
Records; No. SFR 357.4003.2; 2004
This is the first sampler that Stockfish Records have put together, one long
overdue, and which offers 17 tracks from the various CDs they have produced
from 1998 to 2004. Not a bad showcase of artists, and, overall, a compilation
that puts together some of the finest in today's songwriting talent, thought-provoking
lyrics included. From Allan Taylor's "Beat Hotel" and "Wheel of Fortune" to
Sara K.'s "Turned My Upside Down" and "The Painter", Chris Jones' "Set 'em up,
Joe" and "No Sanctuary Here" to David Roth's "Pearl Diver" and "Before I Die",
the tracks weave their way from mellow lovesong to sharp social commentary.
My favourite tracks on the album had to be Mike Silver's "Not a Matter of Pride"
and Sara K's "The Painter". All in all, "Closer to the Moon" is definitely a
compilation of tunes well worth adding to your collection.
More information is available from Stockfish Records, www.stockfish-records.de.
April Moon "Suddenly September"
Label: Kreakustic Records; No. KRE 200401;
April Moon is a pop-rock band with a folksy sound- picture. Their frontman and
lead singer is Uwe Juras, who sounds like a cross between Crash Test Dummies
and Matchbox 20. With solid musicianship in the form of Laura Werner on violin,
Jans Koenig on guitar, Mike Bruehl on keyboards, Daniel Franz on guitar, Sebastian
Ritter on electric bass, Joern Mildner on drums and Oliver Lanka on accordion,
"Suddenly September" is an excellent debut album of original tunes and two covers
(check out Susanne Vega's "Luka" and Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good" rendered
April Moon style). Although I liked the covers, I thought April Moon's own tunes
were definitely much better, and my favourite was the title track itself.
April Moon are definitely a band that have potential. Given time, and with a
little bit more work, I'd say their second album could be a real success. For
more details, surf their website, at www.aprilmoon.de.
Caledonix "Plaid Without Compromise"
Label: OTHIs Medienverlag; No. LC 10518
Caledonix is not just another (mostly) German band playing music in the Scottish
tradition. To date, they are probably one of the most successful bands of their
kind, with their debut CD, "Hot n'Scot n'" receiving rave reviews and the fact
that they're already making nationwide television appearances. The music is
largely acoustic- accordion, guitar, bass, bodhran and harmonica - and the tunes,
traditional. The band - Perry Letsch on harmonica and vocals, Axel McRenfftlen
on vocals and acoustic bass, Uwe Krupka on guitar and vocals, Gabi Wenhuda on
bodhran, flute and vocals and Clemens Rau on accordion - are definitely a blast
"live", as other reviews can confirm.
"Plaid Without Compromise" is perhaps a rather apt title for an album which
offers just that- 17 traditional tunes played with oomph and occassional fury.
Overall, however, I found the album a little uneven in quality; some of the
tracks were excellent but at times, the playing wasn't quite top. Overall, however,
a very promising album, and a band I'd definitely recommend watching "live".
More information on Caledonix can be found at www.caledonix.de.
Swimmy "The Bed of Justice"
Label: The Kerry Records
Swimmy are an eight-piece band comprising Thomas Bergholz, Kerstin Blatz, Dennis
Kranz, Axel Lemke, Martin Schmitt, Hagen Scholl, Peter Schuth und Karsten Weyand.
Their influences are far and wide, ranging from Arab Strap (!) and Coldplay
to the Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp and Radiohead. Why on earth then, one might
ask, do these guys release a (largely trad) folk album? True, there are one
or two original compositions (which, in my opinion, are very promising, and,
to a certain extent, better than the trad pieces) such as "Walking in the Fog"
and "Taciturnity", but most of the tunes on the album are strictly trad ("Loch
Lomond", "Hills of Connemara", "The Kerry Dances", "Toss the Feathers" and "The
Water is Wide").
"The Bed of Justice" is a pretty good try, for a first album. Let's hope, however,
that the second one sees more original compositions, which is what I think the
band do best. Check out Swimmy's website: www.swimmy.de.
Tommy Byrnes "Alehouse Insurrections"
Label: Sovereignty Records;
The opening track on the album sounds like it belongs to the soundtrack of a
film like "Far and Away" or "Waking Ned Devine". The second, however, is more
typical of the sound of the album, which combines traditional Celtic sensibility
with influences from the wild and experimental progressive rock music of the
70s. Previous to going solo, Byrnes played with the band Ockham's Razor, As
Byrnes says himself, "I still can't believe I went to Ireland instead of going
to college. What can I say? It was the eighties and I was a poor Democrat."
Perhaps Ireland did him good, as the man is now a multi-instrumentalist, playing
guitars, bagpipes, whistles, keyboards, drums and bodhran, amongst others.
"Alehouse Insurrections" is a pretty good debut album, with loads of oomph.
I'd definitely be curious to hear what the next album sounds like! Keep up the
good work, Tommy! More information on Tommy Byrnes can be found at www.tommybyrnes.com.
V/a "Magic Irish Inspirations"
Label: Vive La Difference (a division of Heupferd
Musik Verlag GmbH); No.VLDCD 20022
"Magic Irish Inspirations" is a good compilation which features some of the
top bands in the Irish / Celtic trad music scene today. Flook, Rawlins Cross,
NorthCregg, Reeltime and Dezi Donnelly are amongst the younger names on the
tracklist, together with some more established names in the business such as
Finbar Furey, Andy Irvine and Niamh Parsons.
As a budget sampler CD, released on the label "Vive La Difference!", this is
certainly one worth adding to your collection. Geraldine MacGowan's "Listen,
Listen", the closing track on the album, couldn't be a more appropriate entreaty.
For a catalogue of albums also released on the "Vive La Difference!" label,
check out www.zweitausandeins.de.
Skolvan "Live in Italia"
Musique; KMCD150; 2004; Playing time: 45:59 + 54:59 min
Skolvan (-> FW#21)
has been formed in 1984, since then being one of the leading figures in traditional
Breton music. Tradition taking into the contemporary world, precisely. Youenn
Le Bihan plays bombard, biniou and the piston, a self-created type of
baroque oboe that counts largely for the unique Skolvan sound. Bernard Le Dreau
replaced the typical violin by a saxophone; and young Loig Troel is the current
diatonic accordion player. Furthermore, there's Gilles Le Bigot (-> FW#26)
who adapted the open tuning guitar to Breton music, and Dominique Molard, brother
of Jacky and Patrick (see below), on various percussion instruments uniting
traditional Breton music and the different rhytmical styles from all over the
planet. This 2 CD set recorded live in Italy is both a Best Of Skolvan highlighting
a twenty years career and a journey turning Breton fest noz dances into listening
music, taking it from the village green into the theatre and clubs. Wonderful
tunes and performance too.
Patrick Molard & Alain Genty "To the Bobs"
Musique; KMCD156; 2004; Playing time: 49:10 min
Patrick Molard is one of the few
musicians that play both the biniou koz (Breton pipes) and biniou braz (great
Highland bagpipes). In the early 1970s he went to Aberdeen to study pìobaireachd
with Bob Brown und Bob Nicol, the two bobs in question. With his brothers Jacky
(fiddle) and Dominique (percussion, Skolvan, see above), he became one of the
heroes of the Breton folk revival. Here Patrick plays Scottish and Breton pipes,
airs from all over the European continent, traditonal dance tunes from the Celtic
fringe, from Britanny to the Hebrides, piobaireachd from Scotland. Alain Genty
(-> FW#8) adds bass, guitar, piano and percussion.
Both are composers in their own right, tunes have been named in honour of pipers
Fred Morrison (-> FW#12, FW#26)
and Rory Campbell (-> FW#10, FW#22).
A fitting tribute to Patrick's teachers - and to bagpipe maker Bob
Hardie as well, he plays one of his chanters.
Kíla "Live in Dublin"
Label: Kila Records;
KRCD 010; 2004; Playing time: 72:32 min
Rónán Ó Snodaigh "Tonnta
Label: Kila Records;
KRCD 102; 2004; Playing time: 54:28 min
Kíla (-> FW#26)
is one of the most extraordinary roots music acts coming from the Emerald Isle.
No shamrocks and leprechauns but fusing self-composed tunes in traditional style
with percussive world beat. On the road for eight years, most of these live
tracks have been recorded at the Olympia Theatre and Vicar Street in Dublin,
one each in France and Australia, from 2002 to 2004. Half of the tracks had
been taken from Kíla's last record "Luna Park", two tracks have not been
previously released, plus the song "Seo mo leaba", taken from singer Rónán
Ó Snodaigh's solo album "Tonnta ró", featuring Indian percussionist
Zakir Hussain playing kanjira. Live
in concert, the Kíla experience is even more exciting than anything laid
down in the rather sterile studio environment. This is music to dance to.
At the very heart of the Kíla sound is the charismatic singer and bodhran
player Rónán Ó Snodaigh, famed for his talking-drum-style
playing on the Irish frame-drum and his unique songwriting. His previous solo
effort "Tip Toe" (-> FW#26) was a quiet
song affair and guitar based, the songs being in the English language. "Tonnta
ró" is Kíla as usual, the songs written by Rónán
being in Gaelic, African chant like, rhythmical and percussive. Percussion freaks
will be delighted of the multi-layered drums. "Tonnta ró" is the perfect
completion to the Kíla catalogue, if you are more into songs. Ronan is
said being a great Gaelic lyricist, unfortunatly this is left in the shadows
for all of us not having any Gaelic.
Mozaik "Live from the Powerhouse"
HBCD0036; 2004; Playing time: 61:52 min
Andy Irvine (vocals, bouzouki, mandolin,
harmonice -> FW#23) goes to Australia once
a year and he got the idea to form a band for a month-long tour, that recorded
this in concert at The Powerhouse, Brisbane, in March 2002. Featuring the three
strands of Andy's music that had driven him on: Irish and American folk, a mix
of songs and tunes from his solo career and Planxty (-> FW#27)
standards, sometimes going back to pre-Planxty days; Andy's flirtation with
Balkan music where he travelled in the late 1960s, traditional tunes his ear
caught and impressions he composed himself; plus throwing in an American old-timey
tune for good measure. So everything seems quite Irvine-like, but that's misleading.
It's a powerhouse band: Donal Lunny (bouzouki, guitar, bodhran), Bruce
Molsky (vocals, fiddle, 5-string banjo), Nikola
Parov (gadulka, gaida, kaval, tin whistle, clarinet, guitar, kalimba ->
FW#21), and Rens
van der Zalm (fiddle, mandolin, guitar). A string band that moved from
Milltown Malby, Co. Clare into Stara Zagore, Co. Bulgaria and moved along to
Galax, Co. Virginia and back. Certainly one of the highlights of 2004.
David Faulkner & Steve Turner "English and
Border Music for Pipes"
Own Label; EELCD03; 2004; Playing time: 58:47
Devon based David Faulkner (Moebius -> FW#29)
plays Border bagpipes in G (and low C pipes and Bb whistle on one track), a
champion of traditional English and (Scottish) Border tunes for quite some time.
Steve Turner adds the accordion, rarely taking the lead melody, but providing
a rock-solid carpet for Steve to step on and feel comfortable. The tunes are
rather from the forgotten side, pure trad from England and the Borders, from
manuscript sources of four centuries, many of them previously unrecorded. However,
this recording is not only worth mentioning for its repertoire, the playing
is brilliant as well and the melodies sweet and swinging.
Email David Faulkner
Angelina Carberry & Martin Quinn
Label: ReelTrad; RTR 001; 2003; Playing time:
This is the second take of Angelina Carberry, exchanging her
father Peter for her husband as her duet partner Martin Quinn. Angelina Carberry
& Martin Quinn are based Galway nowadays. Born in Manchester, Angelina hails
from a renowned musical family from Co. Longford and played with the Bumblebees);
Martin comes from Co. Armagh and toured with Gerry O'Connor and Na
Dorsa. Angelina is no mean banjo player with a swinging, rhythmical style
that holds the sets together. Martin Quinn plays the accordion in marital harmony.
The music is flowing and the pace is controlled. Reels and jigs dominate, a
mixed bag of common sesson tunes, some rather obscure, and a few recent composed
pieces by Paddy Fahey & Co. There's a few hornpipes too as well as a slow air
and a barndance written by Martin. John Blake, accompanist extraordinaire of
Teada (-> FW#23, FW#29),
adds some guitar. However, very modestly, it's an banjo/accordion album after
James Kelly "Melodic Journeys"
Own Label; JKMO147; 2004; Playing time: 50:26
Dublin-born James Kelly learned
his music from his father John Kelly, the out-standing fiddler and concertina
player from Kilbaha, Co Clare, who had been a founding member of Sean O Riada's
"Ceoltoiri Cualann" in the early 1960's (-> FW#28).
James has been recording and touring since being 14 years of age, being a member
of Patrick Street (-> FW#24) and Planxty
(-> FW#27) at times. Based in Florida
since 1978, he continued the trad career. His third solo album takes you on
a journey which is both melodic and rudimentary. James's unaccompanied pure
solo fiddle does not distract from the essence of the music. Having composed
some 600 tunes (due for publication) none of those is featured here, all titles
are traditional. Sources are his father and the music of Clare, piper Paddy
Moloney (-> FW#8) from Ceoltoiri Cualann days,
there's also the Sligo connection by way of Michael Coleman. If you're looking
for pure fiddle music, don't pass over. This is essential.
James Kelly Music
Caladh "Live in Kyteler's Inn"
Label: Own label; Playing time: 60:03 min
County Carlow in the south east of Ireland is probably not really known as a
hotbed for traditional Irish music, so follow me up (or down) to Carlow. Here's
a band that puts it on the traditional and folk music map. Caladh
are Liam Merriman (vocals, guitar, bodhran), Eoin O'Meachair (banjo, whistle)
and Steven Haberlin (guitar), and they recorded their debut live at Kyteler's
Inn, Kilkenny. A couple of buoyant tunes, a mixed bag of traditional and contemporary
songs and ballads: "Bean Phaidin", "Curragh of Kildare", "As I Roved Out", Luka
Blooms's "You Couldn't have Come At A Better Time",... Caladh is Gaelic and
translates as "quay", and the band's music is no disastrous gale force but gently
pushing against the shore.
According to their website, Steven has been exchanged for Greg Boland (of folk
rock band Scullion) and a studio CD is planned for early 2005. Perhaps even
with a more adventurous repertoire.
Eoin Duignan "Lumina"
Label: Duigo Music; OAC CD 704; 2004; Playing
time: 43:18 min
Eoin Duignan (-> FW#29)
is an accomplished traditional Irish musician from West Kerry. As uilleann piper
his gurus are Seamus Ennis and Leo Rowsome (-> FW#26).
Eoin is addicted to the low whistle too, and "Lumina" is especially written
for this instrument. This six-part suite has been inspired by the six opulent
stained-glass windows in Díseart Chapel,
Dingle. Its creator Harry
Clarke (1889-1930) is widely recognised as one of the greatest stained-glass
artists (one of his close friends was piper Johnny
Doran, by the way). They vividly illustrate Clarke’s unique style, with
lively animated faces, a profusion of rich vibrant colours and generous ornamentation.
This could be said about Eoin's music as well. The windows display the life
of Christ from birth to death, through sadness and laughter, pain and joy. The
listener is caught in haunting slow airs and lively percussive reels and jigs,
in meditation and party. A collection of original compositions only but some
Norwegian folk dances. Eoin is joined by producer Gerry O’Beirne (-> FW#11),
Máire Breathnach (-> FW#25),
Liam O Maonlaoí (-> FW#11, FW#17,
Steve Coulter (-> FW#17)
and James Blennerhassett (-> FW#22,
Hugh & Colm Healy "Macalla na hÓige"
Label: Killeen Music; KM CD 001; 2004; Playing
time: 45:36 min
I remember one desperate Saturday night in the village of Corofin looking for
the music and the craic: on the way from the Corofin Arms to Cahir's, a one-man
band tootling "Living Next Door to Alice", and an old man, blissful with the
firewater, murmuring a friendly "how-are-you" while pissing between the parked
cars. I guess I went early to bed that night. But no, Corofin in Co Clare has
also been the stomping ground of Tony Linnane and Sharon
Shannon (-> FW#17, FW#28).
Now there's brothers Hugh and Colm Healy,
who did this recording with the help of another brother Eric on fiddle, Fergal
Scahill (guitar, bodhran -> FW#25),
Paul O'Driscoll (double bass -> FW#9, FW#12),
Noel O'Donoghue (concert flute), Karol Lynch (banjo) and Michael O'Connell (uilleann
pipes). Hugh and Colm play the concertina and the button accordion respectively,
and have been pillars of the local session scene. The combination concertina
and button accordion is rather unique, recalling the early 1990's recordings
of two another Clare musicians, Noel Hill
and Tony MacMahon. "Macalla na hÓige"
translates as echoes of youth, and the Healys put their youthful vigour
into the sets. But they are enjoying themselves, playing at moderate pace and
never letting the music down. The tunes are from Clare and beyond, perhaps more
hornpipes as usual, and a French waltz. The button connection from Clare proves
that there are still some novel and unhackneyed facets to discover in traditional
V/A "McCalman Singular"
CDTRAX269; 2004; Playing time: 59:57 min
Forty years ago, the McCalmans singing
group has been formed in Edinburgh (-> FW#3,
"McCalman Singular" is the 40th anniversary gift from the only remaining founder
member. Ian McCalman said he would rather bunjee jump nude from the Scott
monument than record a solo album, so his first non-Macs album features
14 of his 50+ ditties, sung by his friends: Barbara
Dickson, Dick Gaughan (->
Malcolm (-> FW#28), niece Janet
McCalman, the Sangsters, Isla St Clair
(-> FW#1), Allan
Taylor (-> FW#18), Sheena
Wellington, and Mike
Whellans (-> FW#27). All newly recorded
plus recordings from the late Derek
Moffat and Davy Steele
(-> FW#21, FW#24),
and even an intrumental track penned by Ian and performed by Aly
Bain and Phil Cunningham (see DVD review in the German section). Ian's views
on Scotland and beyond are full of humour and wit. A few singers put a very
distinctive stamp on it, very entertaining. Great artists, great tunes, great
lyrics: We're not saying we're big headed, we're not saying we're the best.
All we are saying, we're better than the rest. Wha's like us? Damn few and they're
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