FolkWorld #44 03/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Fling "A Ditch Near Cree"
-I-C-U-B4-T-, 2011

This oddly titled album must be the Dutch band's fourth album altogether.[21][33] There still is doyen uilleann Piper Evert Jan ’t Hart. Fiddler Siard De Jong[44] and Belgian guitar player Philip Masure[32] joined in 2009. I suppose the car was much too fast on them Irish boreens and came to a stop in this dig in Donegal. The tune of that name is not too fast, and you cannot complain of breaking the speed limits (as Irish drivers would probably do). The album starts with a gentle pace, and stays more or less with it. The title tune had been written by Evert Jan ’t Hart and its delivery brings Lunasa to mind at once.[37] Annemarie de Bie turns out to be a gorgeous singer: "Caitlin Ni Uallachain" is a Yeats poem set to music by Hart; the traditional farewell song from Leitrim "Shores of Loch Bran" I only once heard in my life before. Annemarie contributed two original songs and even wrote an instrumental tune. In the second half of the album the band is covering more familiar territory with tunes such as the "Killavil Fancy". The "Heathery Hills Of Yarrow" is a murder ballad the Bothy Band did. The grand finale is the haunting slow air "Port Na bPucai," which sits well on the pipes and Evert Jan ’t Hart follows in the footsteps of pipers such as Liam O'Flynn.[27]
© Walkin' T:-)M

Stan Rogers "The Very Best of..."
Fogarty's Cove/Borealis Records, 2009/2011

The late Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers (1949-1983) is somewhat of an icon. I can easily write this down, and many people over here will give me a nod, and probably, as myself, have never listened to an original recording of the man himself. Most will probably know one song or the other performed by other artists. "Northwest Passage"[32] about discovering a route across Canada to the Pacific Ocean has become something as one of Canada's unofficial anthems. Another popular song, "Mary Ellen Carter,"[32] is in praise - not of a lady as you might suggest - but of a ship crew's heroic efforts. Somewhere I also have a version of "Barrett's Privateers" in my record collection, a kind of sea shanty (or is it a drinking song?) that switches between 4/4 and 5/4 time. These three are among these 16 tracks recorded from 1976 to 1983, which have been already remastered and compiled in 2009 and eventually found its way across the ocean thanks to Borealis Records. So I'm glad to have this record here. These are great songs, down-to-earth. A gentle baritone from a six feet four man, his music might be considered a quintessentially Canadian mode of expression, as gentle, introspective and folk-based, as characteristically Canadian as the rolling western prairies or the gentle hills of the Ontario countryside.[36] And while his legacy is somehow continued by his son Nathan,[43] there is never as good as the real thing.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Sandy Brechin & Friends
"The Sunday Night Sessions"
Brechin All Records, 2010

For fifteen years Scottish piano accordionist Sandy Brechin[38] hosted a session on Sunday nights in the Ensign Ewart pub at the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Meanwhile it moved to Carter's Bar in Haymarket, but to mark the occasion, take a break or simply look back the main protagonists got together to cut some of the most favourite sets (actually the recording started way back in 2004 and it took six years to complete). The line-up featured here is regulars such as fiddler Peter Brady, piper John Currie, flutist Sheila Sharp, bouzouki player Steve McDonaugh, guitarist Ewan Wilkinson and button accordionists Dougie MacDougall and Norman Mackay. A session is an impromptu gathering and though save in the studio it still is a musical jam - in the sense of a full-blown frontal approach right in the face of the entire gang with only the occasional solo spot.
The disc kicks off with three Gordon Duncan tunes, the first one, "Road to the Aisle" had been hidden in the vaults until now, the last, "Ramnee Ceilidh" I heard played by guitarist Tony McManus.[4] (As a bonus the late Highland piper Gordon Duncan plays this medley himself, from a cassette tape given to John Currie in 1992 to learn the tunes.) There comes a lot more fast paced stuff, including the Finnish polka which fiddler Kevin Burke introduced to the Celtic scene. On Kevin's "Up Close" album it was followed by Mick Hanley's "Jessica's Polka," and so it is here as well. The whole proceedings become more laid back with Gordon Duncan's slow air "A' Mhairi Bheag Fho Uibhist," played on the whistle by John Currie, and the traditional pipe tune "The Braes of Loch Eil". No session is complete with a song thrown in for good measure (if only to allow the muscians to take a break for the loo). "Both Sides of the Tweed" is sung by Ewan Wilkinson, more up-tempo are the traditional British broadside ballad "Warlike Lads of Russia" (apparently Nic Jones put a tune to it) and Vic Gammon's "Kings and Queens of England".
When all is said and done, one is left bemoaning that this is just Sandy Brechin & Friends and not a fully-fledged touring band. But if you happen to be Sunday nights in Edinburgh... By the way, the sleeve notes alone are worth buying the CD.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band
"Vaughan Williams - Carols, Songs & Hymns"
Park Records, 2010

FolkWorld Xmas Now is Christemas y-come, I will sing you with all my might of a child so fair in sight, says the 15th century English carol. Singing out loud is Maddy Prior,[38] who started her musical career with the late folk singer/guitarist Tim Hart,[42] and fronted the seminal British folk rock band Steeleye Span.[25] In the 1980s Maddy teamed up with The Carnival Band, a quintet featuring violonist Giles Lewin,[38] and delighted audiences annually at Yuletide with a collection of hymns and carols.[21] In 2010, they took up songs associated with the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958). VW was an avid collector of folk music, travelling the English countryside and transcribing songs and tunes. He set many folk songs as hymn tunes, took poems and married them with both traditional and original melodies.
The first songs of this album are characteristic Christmas fare, including a "Cradle Song" by romantic poet William Blake, "The Blessed Son of God" from VW's Christmas oratorio "Hodie" by Miles Coverdale, who printed the first translation of the Bible into English in the 16th century, furthermore 17th century poet and satirist George Wither and 19th century socialist writer William Morris. The atmosphere is not much of a carnival - for us Carnival is the universal spirit of celebration which overthrows convention, says the band - but rather solemn and gentle in line with the album's seasonal theme of mercy, pity, peace and love. Besides, VW's music generally has a tendency towards the melancholic. It even is not getting merry when singing of jolly good ale in the "Drinking Song" from VW's opera "Sir John in Love". The following tracks are a selection of poems from the 17th to the 19th centuries put to music: "Linden Lea" by William Barnes had been VW's first composition when he was 30 years old. "The Woodcutter's Song" by Christian preacher John Bunyan is taken from VW's opera "The Pilgrim's Progress". There's the mediæval hymn "Come Down O Love Divine" ("Discendi Amor Santo", c.1434), more Blake, Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, poetry from Sir Thomas Browne to Sidney Lanier.
Maddy Prior gives a winsome performance, and the Carnival Band backs her up subtly. The sleeve notes feature all the lyrics and its authors, but unfortunatly not much info on what part Vaughan Williams had in the songs.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Máire Breatnach & Cormac De Barra
"Tarraing Téad - Pulling Strings"
Own label, 2010

Irish fiddler Máire Breatnach[25] has performed and recorded with almost all the big names in Irish music, including the "Riverdance" show and the musical scores of "In The Name of the Father" and "Rob Roy". Perhaps it is less know that Máire also recorded a string of at least five solo albums, which are worth seeking out for its subtle fiddle playing. Máire did collaborate with Cormac De Barra before, who is a harpist covering new ground with artists such as Clannad's Moya Brennan and English singer and actress Hazel O'Connor. The duo's debut album is mainly on the slower paced side (as Máire's previous alums had been as well). There's the Carolan tunes: "Eleanor Plunkett" has been well covered, less known is "Planxty Sudley" (sometimes called "Captain Sudley" or "Carolan's Dowry"), "Mrs Bermingham" I hear recorded for the first time ever. There's miscellaneous airs as well: again, "Sliabh Na mBan" has travelled well, others are new discoveries. Eventually Máire and Cormac release the brake for some double jigs, slip jigs and reels, respectively. And while Fionán de Barra makes some contributions on guitar and bodhran, it is the interplay of fiddle and harp which sets the tone.
© Walkin' T:-)M

David Rovics "Troubadour -
People's History in Song"
Own label, 2010

German CD Review

Is it so that more and more people feel annoyed by politics? Resistance is an American tradition since the Boston Tea Party, however, certainly not today's movement of the same name run by Corporate America. The US American singer-songwriter-activist David Rovics[32] has 18 episodes from the history of humanity turned into small musical vignettes. Six have never been recorded before, six were on his 2009 album "Ten Thousand Miles Away", and further six were published between 1998 and 2007.[29][32]
The start is Shay's Rebellion in the 1780's, when Massachussetts farmer stood up against the landlords ("Berkshire Hills"). The brilliant "St. Patrick Battalion" has only recently been recorded by The Wakes.[44] It becomes international with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.[26] There's the My Lai massacre covered, as well as the overthrow of the Chilean president Salvador Allende and the recent anti-globalization protests. Most moving is "Sugihara" about a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who made possible that 10,000 Jews could leave Europe during World War 2. Amongst them the grandfather of a friend of David's.
All songs are delivered in David's warm but passionate voice, the tunes are catchy throughout. The sleeve notes include all the lyrics and brief background infos.
P.S.: David Rovics spent February at the Big Red Studio, Portland. This happened because of the response to his call-out for funds to make a professional recording of "Song for Bradley Manning" with a band.[44] David ended up with a 13-song recording, and he decided to make it available as a web-only release through his website - by donation or for free.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Nick Wyke & Becki Driscoll "Beneath the Black Tree"
Own label, 20109

Nick Wyke (vocals, fiddle, viola, glockenspiel, djembe) and Becki Driscoll (fiddle, viola, harmonium) from North Devon started their career with a busking trip around Spain and Portugal. Meanwhile the duo have recorded their third album "Beneath the black Tree" with three traditional songs and seven instrumental tracks, traditional as well as self-crafted. They start off with "The Antimacassar", a brilliant duo on fiddle and viola composed by themselves. Virtuoso fiddle harmonies blend perfectly with driving viola rhythms. Then they put the traditional lyrics of the sad story of "Edward" to music. Andy Seward from the Kate Rusby Band adds his terrific double-bass lines and Driscoll plays the harmonium while Wyke's dramatic singing and fiddling captivates the listener. Driscoll wrote "Barnstaple to Umberleigh", a brilliant tune featuring finger-picking on the fiddle, driving percussions by producer Keith Angel and great fiddling. The traditional English folk song "Benjamin Bowmaneer" stands out with hauntingly beautiful singing, intoxicating rhythm and Ellen Driscoll's mesmerizing horn playing. Traditional dances like "George Watson's Hornpipe" or the fast-paced "Coronation Day" complete the diversified program. Finally they finish with Wyke's composition "Flying Fishes", a chamber music like tune with two fiddles, viola and double bass.
Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll are both virtuoso fiddlers and with their new album they have succeeded a masterpiece of English folk music. Their playing together is awesome and with three first class guest musicians they have created an innovative and exceptional sound.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Doonans "Further Along"
Own label, 2008

Article: Irish Folk Festival 2010 The Doonan Family Band was formed some 30 years ago by the late John Doonan with his sons Mick (vocals, uilleann pipes, piccolo, flute, saxophone, whistle) and Kevin (fiddle, vocals). Today his two granddaughters Fran Doonan (flute, vocals, saxophone, dancing feet) and Sarah Kirk (dancing feet), Stu Luckley (guitar, vocals, keyboards bouzouki) and Phil Murray (basses) complete the Line-up.
Their latest album "Further along" starts off with the traditional miner song from Northumberland "Black Leg Miner", a musical firework with brilliant playing together of pipes, flute, whistle and fiddle to Murray's intoxicating pace. Mick and Stu are both fine singers and their beautiful singing together is the icing on the cake. Ewan McColl wrote his "Moving on Song" in 1964 and the Doonans bring it forward in shuffling rhythm with breathtaking musical accompaniment. As a tribute to John Mick and Fran recorded the melodic tune "Fiddler around the Fairy Tree", featuring a wonderful duet on flute and whistle. The Geordie song (Geordie is a resident of Newcastle) "Here's the Tender coming" was arranged in the Irish tradition with uilleann pipes, flute, fiddle and accordion (Ben Murray and Tony Bacon were invited as guest musicians). The Animals made the traditional southern Blues "The House of the rising Sun" famous and Mick sings it with passion and skill, whistle, fiddle and pipes take in turns their inspired solos, an extraordinary interpretation. Another highlight is an instrumental set, featuring two reels and two jigs. The virtuoso fiddling and piping, the skilful rhythm changes and the driving pace of bass and bouzouki are awe-inspiring.
Great playing, sophisticated arrangements and hauntingly beautiful voices make the third CD of the Doonans a musical gem of traditional British and Irish folk. Visit them at and join their musical journey.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Rig the Jig "Live in Dublin"
Toucan Cove Entertainment, 2009

Rig the Jig are an eight piece Irish Folk Band formed back in 1996 with three great singers and highly talented musicians. They released a CD/DVD recorded live in the Whelan's in Dublin.
They start off with the traditional "The Lark in the Morning Set" featuring superb playing together of Aoife Kelly on fiddle and Noel Carberry on uilleann pipes; Ian Kinsella on banjo and Brendan Emmet on mandolin take the rhythmic part. Then Michael Banahan sings the wonderful melancholic ballad "My Darlin' Hometown" by the American Country singer John Prine. The "Jackie Coleman's Set" is a perfect showcase for Aoife's fiddling, accompanied by the bass (Paul Gurney) and bodhràn (Michael) driven rhythm and Noel's virtuoso piping. By then Patricia Lane was just sitting there enjoying the music. Now she raised from her chair to bring forward a breathtaking performance of the traditional song "Pretty Fair Maid". The musical accompaniment as well her singing are extraordinary, my favourite song. Right afterwards Aoife inspires the audience with her powerful singing and skilful fiddling on "High and dry", a well known Radiohead hit. Anthony McDermott on acoustic guitar, Paul's pulsating bass lines and Noel's exceptional whistling dominate "The Sandmount Set" and Brendan wrote "Samba for the Cat", a beautiful mandolin tune. "Czardas" is a solo performance by Aoife with gipsy style fiddling, followed by the bands intoxicating interpretation of "The Masons Apron". "The moving Cloud" stands out with inspired playing together of Ian on banjo and Brendan on mandolin and Paul plays "The Showman's Fancy" on piano with a classic touch. Patricia's soulful singing mesmerizes the listener on the hauntingly beautiful song "Cloghinne Winds" by the Irish songwriter Briege Murphy.
If you watch the DVD you can see that the lads and lassies are just enjoying to make music together, a unforgettable gig for those who were there and a precious gem for me. I rather watched the DVD, besides some beautiful tracks have not been included on the CD.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

4Square "Chronicles"
Square Roots Music, 2010

4 Square is a four piece acoustic folk band from the Manchester area featuring Nicola Lyons (fiddle, vocals, clogs), Jim Molyneux (keyboards, accordion, vocals, guitar), James Meadows (banjo, mandola, tenor guitar) and Dan Day (percussion, piano, vocals, guitar). Founded in 2006 the four young musicians have recorded their second album with brilliant cover versions, traditional songs and tunes as well as self-crafted tracks.
The traditional song "Trooper Lad" coupled with Meadows' intoxicating tune "Searching for Pollock" starts off with Day's hauntingly beautiful singing tenderly accompanied by piano and mandola, then fiddle, percussion and piano accelerate the pace and the set ends up in a musical firework with Alice Allen on cello. Banjo, piano and fiddle create the vibrant rhythm on the instrumental set "Skewers", guitar and percussion joining in for the stunning final. Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser wrote "Tommy's Tarbukas" and Day added a jazzy groove with his awesome tune "April Snowfall"; guitar, keys and fiddle play funk themes, samba rhythm as well as jazz. He also composed the melancholic song "Pretoria", exposing rather conservative song writing. The guys are not only gifted musicians, their compositions are some of the finest on the folk scene. Molyneux has written "Les", an extraordinary track fusing jazz and chamber music with an innovative folk arrangement. Another favourite is Lyons' "Lugerberugi" set showcasing her breathtaking fiddle playing. She also is a great singer. Floating on a musical carpet created by guitar, accordion and fiddle her wonderful soprano voice brings forward Karine Polwart's romantic song "Follow the Heron" with passion and feeling. After ten tracks and a short pause they've added a hidden bonus track, a beautiful folk song I couldn't find out the origin.
With "chronicles" 4Square have produced an awe-inspiring album. They are virtuoso musicians and their awe-inspiring creative sound is a must for friends of modern British folk music.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Michael Bucher "Believe"
Blue Hills Records, 2009

Native Cherokee singer/songwriter Michael Bucher (vocals, acoustic guitars, flutes) teamed up with Peter Phippen (Fender bass, congas) and Jason Introwitz (drums, percussion, keyboards) to record his new album "Believe". Together with a few great guest musicians they present us ten original songs and a beautiful instrumental version of "Amazing Grace", performed by Bucher on acoustic guitar.
Bucher has a powerful voice and his vibrant guitar playing supported by bass, keys and percussion makes "Blessings" a perfect dramatic musical lift-off; intoxicating harmonic rock music with Native American roots. His socio-critical lyrics deal with problems that concern the Native American society as well as the world we all live in: homelessness, violation of our mother earth, addiction to drugs or alcohol or lack of food all over the world while the upper class gets fat and decadent. On "Texas Cherokee" Bucher sings a wonderful duet with Sarah Maurer and Douglas Bluefeather enchants the listener with hauntingly beautiful flute playing. "Fat Cats" is a passionate Blues-rock featuring Howard Luedtke on lead guitar and Curtis Waterman on blues harp and Josh Entzminger takes the lead guitar on the title track, a beautiful rock hymn. Hypnotic guitar rhythm, pulsating bass and Bucher's brilliant singing replace the sound of Indian drum beats when he invites us to join in the Stomp Dance, "A Hani Tsi Toga - Here I stand". Then Kevin Brown conjures with his dobro traditional Americana sounds on "Mountain Top Removal" and with the melancholic song "Cedar Smoke or the Flame", dedicated to his late uncle Frank, and Bucher's fine guitar picking on "Amazing Grace" the CD comes to an end.
After his co-production with Joanne Shenandoah "Bitter Tears - Sacred Ground"[40] Bucher offers another brilliant album full of beautiful songs, virtuoso musicianship and breathtaking singing.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Gerry O'Beirne & Rosie Shipley
"Yesterday I saw the earth beautiful"
Own label; 2010

Singer/songwriter Gerry O'Beirne (vocals, guitars, ukulele) from Co. Clare and American fiddler Rosie Shipley (fiddle, vocals) have been working together for years and finally they release their first album together. O'Beirne composed six of the 13 songs and tunes, put two poems to music and they completed the program with five traditional sets.
Patrick Kavanagh is the author of the beautiful poem "Free Soul" and O'Beirne added a melancholic tune played by guitar, fiddle and Trevor Hutchinson on double bass; his tender singing is borne by Shipley's angelic background vocals. My favourite song is "Black Water", a kind of psychedelic folk song with hauntingly beautiful singing, hypnotic finger-picking, fine fiddling and Hutchinson's terrific double bass. Traditional dance sets from Ireland like "Tom Billy's" or the "Cape Breton Set", where Shipley attended a Gaelic Arts college, include intoxicating jigs. reels, hornpipes, strathspeys and slides. Another highlight is "American Tunes", a set of two Appalachian traditionals. National Steel Guitar, Fiddle and acoustic guitar produce an unbelievable bluesy groove. Shipley's fiddling is awesome and O'Beirne adds some virtuoso Bluegrass on ukulele. "Alfred Hitchcock's Polkas" is an original set by O'Beirne starting with a melancholic slow polka and accelerating to a breathtaking speed polka.
Two first class musicians hosting one of the best Irish double bass players have created an extraordinary album with innovative Arrangements and hauntingly beautiful songs.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Freight Hoppers "Mile Marker"
Own label, 2010

The Freight Hoppers is an old time string band based in North Carolina featuring David Bass (fiddle), Frank Lee ( banjo, vocals, guitar, Hammond organ), Isaac Deal (guitar, vocals) and Bradley Adams (string bass). For their fourth album "Mile Maker" they recorded 13 songs and tunes from the late 20ies and early 30ies.
They start off with "Been to the East been to the West", a fast-paced song recorded originally by the Leake County Revelers in 1928. Bass' breathtaking fiddling and the driving rhythm are intoxicating. From the Mississippi area we travel to Atlanta: "Scandalous and a Shame", an up-beat Bluegrass song with terrific banjo playing by Lee. My favourite is "Taxes on the Farmer feed them all", a traditional song arranged by Lee as a brilliant Blues. The two voices, two guitars, fiddle and bass create an extraordinary groove. They also play great instrumental tracks like the fiddle - banjo duet on "Hound Chase" by Arnold Sharp of Ohio or "Sharp's Hornpipe", a dance tune by Kentucky born John Sharp. Another highlight is the rocking spiritual "Down on me" with Lee on National Duolian resonator guitar.
The album is a gem for friends of old-time country and bluegrass music. The four guys are first class musicians and singers and their lively sound makes you rock in your chair.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Tom Acton "Down the Irish Gravel Road"
Full Spiral Productions, 2009

Singer/songwriter Tom Acton from Dublin has released his second album " Down the Irish Gravel Road". Together with a bunch of great guest musicians from Netherlands he has recorded 14 self-crafted songs.
Annemiek Van de Padt accompanies his singing on "Sligo Fair", a folk song inspired by W. B. Yeats. The playing together of Racquel Gigot on accordion and Rudy Velghe on fiddle and the intoxicating rhythm make it one of my favourites. "The Great Johnny Doran" is a dramatic song about a travelling piper from Co. Wicklow followed by the tune "The Rambling Pitchfork" brought forward by Steafan Hannigan on uilleann pipes. Ad Vermeer plays electric slide guitar on the rhythmic "The Fortune Teller" and on the title song he grabs the banjo and creates together with Roelofs on keyboards a driving pace. Acton also sings romantic ballads about his beloved homeland; only producer Guy Roelofs on guitar and Jasmijn Scholters on cello accompany his soulful singing on "The West Hills". Another highlight is the immigration song "Cobh Town" with a beautiful slide solo and Jenny van Diggelen's terrific flute playing. The story about a man losing himself "Down in the Wishing Well" ends the poetic and musical journey.
For more than twenty years Tom Acton travels throughout Europe to enjoy the audience with his brilliant songs. After having listened to his latest album I hope he won't forget Switzerland.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Mabon "Live at the Grand Pavilion"
Easy on the Records, 2010

Mabon is a mythic figure from the Welsh Arthurian legend and the name of a six-piece Celtic fusion band featuring composer Jamie Smith (accordion), Ruth Angell (fiddle), Calum Stewart (wooden flute, pipes), Derek Smith (acoustic guitar), Matt Downer (bass guitar, electric upright bass) and Lolo Whelan (drums, percussion). Their latest release includes a CD with ten intoxicating instrumental tracks as well as a Live DVD filmed at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport, Isle of Wight.
They start off with "The Hustler", an intoxicating tune dominated by the terrific playing together of Jamie on accordion and Calum on uilleann pipes; bass, guitar and percussion create the driving pace. Then Calum grabs the Irish wooden flute to play "Schindig", another awesome dance tune. Jamie is a brilliant accordion player and no matter if he's playing together with flute, pipes or fiddle the sound of his passionate playing is the hallmark of Mabon's music. The set lists of the CD and the DVD are nearly the same besides the hauntingly beautiful "Mazurkas", the slow air "divers alarums" and the up-beat track "La Randonnée" included only on audio CD. On the other hand the breathtaking set "A Hungarian in Brittany" is exclusively added to the video CD; Breton dance rhythms are spiced with Ruth's virtuoso gypsy fiddling. She also bewitches the audience with her great playing on "The Tale of Nikolai, the dancing Bear", a sad and melancholic air emerging as a fast-paced Russian dance. Another highlight is Jamie's awe-inspiring performance on "Fiddler's Despair", driven by the incredible pace of bass, guitar and drums.
I was flabbergasted by the band's extraordinary sound, their inspired performing and the wonderful and innovative compositions. Friends of Celtic acts like Capercaillie, Flook, Michael McGoldrick or Lunasa will adore their music.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Cee Cee James "Seriously Raw"
FWG Records, 2010

Oregon based Blues singer Cee Cee James has released a live album recorded at the Sunbanks Rhythm & Blues Festival. Together with her band featuring Rob "Slide Boy" Andrews (rhythm and slide guitar), Chris Leighton (drums), Dan Mohler (Bass) and Jason Childs (lead guitar) she inspires the audience with three self-crafted songs and ten cover versions.
To warm up the stage Cee Cee sings Robert Johnson's "Crossroad Blues", Rob adds his terrific slide guitar and Jason plays an awesome solo. And the show goes on, Cee Cee has a perfect raw Blues voice and her singing is powerful and passionate. The band creates an incredible groove while Cee Cee lets her voice run wild like on "I got a Right to sing the Blues", one of the original songs and an intoxicating Blues-Rock. Then she cools the audience down with her soulful singing on "Done Love wrong", a melancholic slow Blues. The program includes mainly tracks from well known Delta Blues musicians like Willie Dixon (I ain't superstitious), Hound Dog Taylor (Give me back my Wig) or B.B. King (Rock me Baby), but she also brings forward some evergreens like Michael McClure's "Mercedes Benz" or Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee", both at least as awe inspiring as Janis Joplin's interpretations. Tina Turner hit the charts with the song about her Tennessee hometown "Nutbush City Limits" and Cee Cee sings an equally inspired version. Don Nix, another musician from Tennessee, wrote "Going down", the final song with pulsating bass lines, driving drum rhythm and the two duelling guitars.
Cee Cee James presents an extraordinary live album. First class musicians accompany her breathtaking singing and together they transport the listener into the world of finest southern Blues. A must for everybody who appreciates good Blues.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Stevie Palmer "Heartprint Shadow"
Greentrax, 2010

Edinburgh based singer/songwriter Stevie Palmer recorded his debut album "Heartprint Shadow" together with some well chosen guest musicians.
He starts off with the melancholic song "Everybody knows" featuring Kim Edgar's great piano playing, a terrific acoustic guitar solo by Steven Polwart and his tender tenor voice. The rhythmic title song is driven by Palmer's intoxicating percussions, Allan Knox' pulsating bass and Steven Christie's Hammond organ. Wendy Weatherby's dramatic cello and the piano accompany Palmer's beautiful singing on "Where the Bison fell", a sad and critical song about the killing and displacing of the Native American peoples by the white man. Another highlight is "Hushaby", a hauntingly beautiful song with a brilliant line-up: Palmer plays piano and sings with much emotion, Mary MacMaster on harp, Weatherby on cello and Knox on bass. Then Palmer brings forward a breathtaking vocal performance on "Black is the Sun", a poignant a Capella song, before he finishes with the rhythmic folk song "The John McClinchy Bridge".
Stevie Palmer is a fine songwriter with a remarkable voice, though some of his twelve self-crafted tracks are rather Mainstream. But then he comes up with sophisticated arrangements, brilliant musical performances and significant lyrics. All in all a successful presentation.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Stevie Palmer "Heartprint Shadow"
Greentrax, 2010

Stevie Palmer is a former drummer from Edinburgh. Oh his first full-length album, he features 100% original material. He focuses on vocals with only a bit of percussion and piano on one cut. He is assisted by a fair amount of studio musicians, although the arrangements are light rock in nature, aside from the nearly a cappella version of “Black is the Sun” (with a droning tone). This and the delicate “Hushaby” were the highlights. Both of these songs are standouts, while the rest is nice mainstream music without a lot of gutsy rock or folk moves, but more of a slick professional approach. The vocals are good and this will appeal to soft, heartfelt, yet very safe comfortable music.
© David Hintz

Kíla "Soisín"
Kíla Records, 2010

Bruno Coulais & Kíla "The Secret of Kells"
Les Armateurs/Passerelle, 2009

Kíla are well known in the folk scene for their up-beat live performances. As a counterpoint to their latest studio album "Gambler's Ballet" full of intoxicating dancing music they recorded "Soisín", an album with spiritual relaxing music.
Rossa O'Snodaigh wrote "The Derry Tune", a mystic track with his jazzy acoustic guitar playing, Martin Brunsden's pulsating double bass and Dee Armstrong's fine fiddling. "The Bearna Waltz" is a perfect showcase for Dee's soulful fiddling, accompanied by Colm's beautiful guitar harmonies and Rossa on piano, whistle and clarinet and Colm O'Snodaigh sings a mesmerizing duet with Salley Garnett on "Katy's Tune", gently braided by guitar and trumpet. Another highlight is "Miles na bPíobairí" by Eoin Dillon on uilleann pipes; his playing together with Rossa on piano and trumpet is awe inspiring. The album comes to an end with Rossa's great whistle tune "Chun na Farraige Síos", laid upon the silent noise of the sea (farraige).
When I listened to the CD I couldn't prevent to think that if Pink Floyd would make folk music it would just sound like that; folk music of the 21st century. A master work of Irish music.

Another gem in Kíla's discography is the Soundtrack for the Irish animated film "The Secret of Kells", which tells the story of twelve years old Brendan helping to complete the Book of Kells. French composer Bruno Coulais (Keyboards) composed most of the 21 tracks, some with help from Colm O'Snodaigh, Dee Armstrong and director Tomm Moore; two excerpts from previous CDs from Kíla are added to finish the album.
Bruno and Colm wrote the hauntingly beautiful melody "Opening Brendan", which introduces us to the story. Hypnotic rhythms, gorgeous harmonies and brilliant musicianship accompany Brendan's adventure. Christen Mooney sings with her childish soprano voice Moore's words to the "Aisling Song". Mystic sounds bring us to "The Mist Door", featuring the Mikrokosmos Chamber Choir under director Loïc Pierre and "In the Forest" the listener is confronted with dramatic orchestral sequences. Awesome choir singing of "The Monks" coupled with angelic voices and beautiful chamber music alternate with Dee's hauntingly beautiful fiddling, Colm's mesmerizing whistling and the moderate but intoxicating pace on "The Book of Kells" co written by Coulais and Armstrong. My favourite track is Colm's "Cardinal Knowledge" from the 2007 album "Gambler's Ballet", brilliant solos, driving pace and virtuoso playing together, Kíla as we know and love them.
The collaboration of Bruno Coulais and Kíla leads us through an enchanting magical journey into the colourful world of "The Secret of Kells".
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Ronan O Snodaigh "Water off a Duck’s Back"
Kila Records, 2010

There is a light party atmosphere immediately present on this record. There is a light-hearted fun within these mid-tempo rock songs, but there is also a lot going on. “Look to the Light” sounds like it could almost fit on the second Dr. Strangely Strange album so many decades ago. “Matthew Mark” is another really nice song that could fit on many a 1970’s folk album with its raspy vocal over a lovely patchwork of harp and guitar and the occasional burst of acoustic bass punctuating key measures. However, this is not a derivative nor nostalgic exercise. This is a modern creative record from Ireland that is done with a sense of the past with feet firmly planted in the present. I heard some of the same changes in the music of Caedmon when they reunited after 32 years and recorded modern songs that had a sense of history with them as well. I was surprised to see that Snodaigh, who is lead vocalist for Kila, also toured with Dead Can Dance where I attended one of the shows. Then again, with this creative a record, it makes sense.
© David Hintz

Nick Marsh "A Universe Between Us"
Bellissima, 2010

German CD Review

If I read this correctly, Nick Marsh is the significant other of one of the “Medieaval Baebes”. I am quite a fan of the Baebes updated classical vocal work, but was guessing Nick Marsh’s record was not quite in that vein. No, it is more of the classic singer songwriter folk style. He scores major points with me with his ability to create desolate Western landscapes with his tremolo guitar and slow, thoughtful playing. It is similar to Chris Isaak in that regard. His songs are not quite up to Isaak’s, but some really stand out strongly. I particularly liked “Don’t Give Up on Me” with its strong chorus. Speaking of choruses, the previous song to that one had started well, but when it got to the chorus, the melody was not as good, Perhaps if the chorus was not its title--“Best Shag in the World”. Odd. If the Pogues had that title, it may work. Still, there is a nice low-key spacey desert psychedelic vibe through many of the songs. This is an effective record and I plan on keeping my eye on Mr. Marsh.
© David Hintz

The Burns Unit "Side Show"
Proper, 2010

This Scottish-Canadian “supergroup” includes eight members including King Creosote and the Delgados’ Emma Pollock among others. I think the “super” part of it should refer to the full contributions by all the members. There are six different lead vocalists and many combinations of writing partnerships. This could result in a mishmash, but instead has been focused into a vibrant pop-rock album with various folk elements and various cultural influences. “Trouble” is a snappy pop song played as if the Incredible String Band were guesting with a couple of rockers helping out. “Send Them Kids to War” has a great pace and lyrical bite while bringing in some Northern African rhythms and melodies. There is not as much worldly folk in “Blood, Ice and Ashes” but there is a great indie song with heavy guitar, dancing piano and lush synthesizer. On first listen, I was excited to hear each song come up with a high level of curiosity of where this band would take me. Each song was a different journey and they were all worth the travel. I think there will be many music lovers taking these journeys, as well.
© David Hintz

Jim Murdoch "Yonder Shore"
Own label, 2010

This 12-song CD strikes with one of the more lucid vocal performances I have heard. The voice is a resonant baritone with clear enunciation and a silky delivery. The music has American/Appalachian folk roots with a touch of country and worldly folk. The second cut, “The Heart and the Feather”, features Turkish instruments such as cumbus and zils. So it is no surprise that this song stands out and is pretty spectacular. The album slips back a bit toward mainstream easy listening folk-country at times, but Murdoch’s accordion and voice are good enough to keep things mildly interesting at a minimum. There is even some classical piano among the surprises to make this far more of a hit than a miss for traditional fans that want the musicians to wander off the beaten track.
© David Hintz

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