FolkWorld #45 07/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Shawn Pittman "Edge of the World"
Delta Groove, 2011

My preference for electric blues lies in a quick rocking guitar over a good groove established by the rhythm section. Hopefully the vocal work will also be gutsy as opposed to being world-weary. Austin Texas veteran Shawn Pittman fits this description as well as anyone I have heard recently. Everything meshes together into these thirteen smoking blues rockers. Although there are only a couple of covers, many of the originals feel comfortably familiar. The title cut has a “Spoonful” type feeling, but that is only natural when you a blues songwriter sticks to the traditional style. I do not find it over reliant on clichés, thankfully. But analysis is not terribly important. This has spirit and it rocks out in the blues manner as desired.
© David Hintz

Rusties "Wild Dogs"
Tube Jam Records; 2011

This Italian band apparently was formed as homage to Neil Young. The first few songs sounded like I was dreaming that Air Supply was trying to cover REM. The songs were more urban than rural and there was that not so nice bland rock feeling. Fortunately, the fourth song and title cut showed more of what they strive for by soaring into a great rural jamming rock song that still maintained a pop melody as well as a great vocal line by Mary Coughlan. The rest of the record does much better thereafter with a decent cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Adam Raised a Cain” being surprisingly welcome with a nice arrangement featuring a guitar/piano duel. All in all, this is a mixed affair at best. I enjoyed the highlights, but the mainstream easygoing rock styled songs did not work as well.
© David Hintz

Claudia Rudek "Claudia Rudek"
The Finest Noise; 2011

This is one gem of a record. It is not pure folk per se, although most music is not pure anything these days.Yet “The Seaside” is one of the finer folk songs you will hear this year. It reminds me of Carol of Harvest’s “Me and You” with a touch of Anne Briggs perhaps. The rest of the record is also quite excellent with a full band style that balances indie rock and folk-rock nicely. The key is that the songs are excellent and Rudek has a fine voice and style. She is able to throw a nice curve such as the aptly named “Young Girl Sitting at an Old Sad Piano” which is indeed a solo piano piece that takes the listener back a ways, before moving forward to the present. Speaking of jarring, the electric guitar solo on “Skeleton Brain” is another great arrangement decision that adds life to the song. There is great power in subtlety at work here. From top to bottom, this is an enjoyable record that most attentive listeners can find their own favorite songs. I only hope I will not have to travel to Germany to see the live show.
© David Hintz

Too Slim and the Taildraggers "Shiver"
Underworld Records; 2011

This long time Seattle based blues band successfully plays the blues in a modern electric fashion. The success lies in the ability to write a song that is bluesy, expressive and is not rooted in a clichéd tradition. While there is nothing wrong with pure blues, it takes that extra dash of creativity to bring new listeners into the fold. Too Slim and the Taildraggers do that with gospel chorus vocal back up, swirling organs, sharp brass work, and really catchy songs. Of course I am mentioning the frills. The meat and potatoes of it all are the weathered and true vocals and the hot electric guitar work. They are as solid as what you would want from a blues-rock band. They recorded this at Egg Studios, which does excellent analog work with many of the top bands in Seattle. This album has the songs, sounds great and will be making its way on to my regular playlist.
© David Hintz

David Lynch "I Can See Sound"
Own label; 2011

If I really had complete control of my words, I would love to avoid mentioning this music and not discuss the director of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and the Elephant Man. But I cannot help myself and to be fair, if you have a name this famous and are from California, almost every reviewer will be required to point out that this another David Lynch. This David Lynch’s music is quicker and easier to digest than his namesake’s films. No spacey Twin Peaks style guitar-work here (unlike some other albums I have reviewed in the past year), just good California style easygoing blues-rock with a focus on the song. The playing is good with some spritely guitar, but I like the quirky songwriting, such as in “Einstein” where one might get an unexpected answer if you ask Albert Einstein what time is it. This record does not make me jump for joy or drop my jaw in admiration, but it does have me listening carefully to the lyrics and grooving to the undulating rhythms and stabbing acoustic guitar work. Interesting effort.
© David Hintz

Elvin Bishop "Raisin’ Hell Revue"
Delta Groove Music, 2011

I was a little too young to pick up on the Butterfield Blues Band until well after they called it a day in the late 60s, so I belatedly have to come to respect Bishop’s fine guitar work trading licks with Michael Bloomfield. I was at the right age to catch his early solo career with his curly hair, silly hat, and big grin as he was picking away to “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” with the Mickey Thomas vocal that made me cringe. Between that and Thomas’s work in Jefferson Starship, I am thinking he may be a major portion of what was wrong with early 70s music. Thank-you, punk rock for bringing me back to life. Fortunately, different guest singers join Elvin Bishop and his band on this live recording from the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. The sound is fair and like many live recordings, it sounds like it would be more fun at the event as opposed to listening to the record. Still, there are some nice numbers on it with plenty of dueling guitars of Bishop and Kid Andersen. “Whole Lotta Lovin’” rocks out nicely and “Down in Virginia” has a nice lazy blues on the porch feeling. Bishop still can play and just shy of turning 70, he still has a good hairdo for his age and that grin of his will be on his skull for centuries to come. Fans will certainly enjoy this one and it does give me reason to believe that a live show would be fun and he still is playing all over the US and Europe.
© David Hintz

Declan de Barra "Fragments, Footprints & the Forgotten"
Black Star Foundation; 2011

It takes a few notes to realize that this will be an interesting album and just a couple of songs to where I am feeling satisfaction. This Irish songwriter has lived on three continents and been in bands prior to his present solo career. This is lo-fi, but not obnoxiously so. The songs are intense and vibrant with just a few striking instruments accompanying the vocals, usually acoustic guitar. In the opening song he sings toward the depths of a Mark Lanegan, while in the second song, he could probably cover Radiohead. The a capella workout “Breadcrumb Trail” is a really powerful song. The intensity is there on virtually all the songs. He pulls back a bit at times, but his conviction of delivery does remind me of David Eugene Edwards of Woven Hand, maybe closer to Tim Buckley. I am dropping a lot of names here that are really important artists. This album is not quite with the top albums by these great musicians, but it can easily play along side. It is modern, although the a capella “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” is as classic as anything from the 1960s. de Barra also originated all the quality artwork. I believe every reader of Folkworld should give this album a listen.
© David Hintz

The Middle East "I Want that You are Always Happy"
Play it Again Sam; 2011

This lovely album comes from Australia, not the Middle East. The band even comes from the northeast part of Australia in a place called Townsville. Like many of the Australian bands I like, they don’t let their remote location prevent them from enjoying great music from around the world and combining that knowledge with their own experiences to put out excellent and creative music. They really do show a lot of influences here. The main songwriters were fans of Bob Dylan, Silver Jews and Bill Callahan among others. I do hear some of that as this CD wears on, but the early songs have all kinds of wild things going on. There is subtle electronica backed folk, not unlike Current 93. There is a fascinating folk-rock song called “Jesus Came to my Birthday Party” that fits nicely in between just about any two top indie rock bands you could name. The music does get a bit more conventional as the album moves on, but it still retains quality songwriting, just simpler arrangements. They close with “Deep Water” that brings back the thicker mix and introduces a wailing saxophone. Although this is more folk than anything else, there is a lot of creative thought at work here and it results in a fine album.
© David Hintz

Hadden Sayers "Hard Dollar"
Blue Corn Music; 2011

Good original electric blues on display here. Thirteen songs of gnarly Texan landscape featuring the vocal and fast guitar work of Hadden Sayers. There are of course some blues clichés here and there, but the guitar work is strong enough to maintain my interest. The band stays in the background and does a nice job of complimenting without any feeling that they are competing for spotlights. Solid effort here, especially with the nice surf guitar sound on the last song. I have heard better, but this one is well above the average line for blues records.
© David Hintz

Biber Herrmann "Love & Good Reasons"
Acoustic Music Records, 2011

This may be acoustic blues-folk music, but there is a solid rock foundation within. The guitars are played with a strong picking style that accentuates the intensity in Herrmann’s songs. The English language songs are decent enough and likable, but I think the mature playing is what makes this a nice little record.
© David Hintz

Viva Voce "The Future Will Destroy You"
Vanguard; 2011

From Muscle Shoals to Nashville to Portland, Viva Voce has lived in some pretty important musical areas of the USA. Their sound suits Portland best as they have a very modern light psychedelic pop rock sound. They play at a deliberate pace with dreamy and controlled female lead vocals. The distorted guitars build on the foundation supplied by the steady rhythm section. It does not exactly shimmer like shoegaze music, but it has that general feeling. There are folk elements, none stronger than in the dazzling “The Wondering Soul”. That gives this record just enough variety to keep from sliding into their gentle rock pace. This is somewhere between the Raveonettes and Wylde Old Souls and it is going to get many more listens from me. I will also pay the band a visit when they are here in my fair city this September.
© David Hintz

Pete Sinjin "Better Angels Radio"
Pirate Vinyl; 2010

More agreeable Americana is served at the roadside diner of the endless American Highway. The road is crowded with bands from California to Brooklyn and you can even see some European imports dot the landscape. This album rides comfortably on that highway but can not seem to escape the traffic. The playing is quite good, but the songs seem to just be a bit too straightforward and do not stand out much. There are some really nice exceptions thankfully. “Broken Radios” is a nice rocker with strong production as sounds weave in and out with energetic bursts of melody. “All That Remains” has the folksiest roots and really grabs the listener. Sinjin is successful in capturing the feeling of the road. I would like to see a bit more spark in the songwriting next time and I will enjoy the journey more.
© David Hintz

Rachael Sage "Delancey St"
MPress Records; 2011

Good straightforward song oriented rock music is the distinction with Delancey Street. At times it is a bit too straightforward although the playing is strong. But the good thing about LPs (LONG players) is that an artist’s songs can work on you in bulk. And that happens here to some degree, as Sage’s songs show their worth when you listen to all 15 of them. Sage has a breezy style with a voice that alternates between breathy and playful. Darryl Hall’s “Rich Girl” seems a bit unneeded here, but does not grate on me as much as I expected. The music is not overly adventurous, but it is of sufficient quality to gain a pretty nice audience I would guess.
© David Hintz

The Beautiful South "Live at the BBC"
Universal Music; 2011

This big 80s band from the UK broke up back in 2007 due to “musical similarities” as they said at the time. This compilation clearly is for the fans, and they did have a lot of fans in the day. It is a book with three CDs and one DVD. The DVD has live performances from various sources including some from Jools Holland’s television show. I did not get to review that, but did listen to the three CDs, which comprise their complete BBC recordings and several live cuts. I would say their sound is an alt-country sound, but since they are from the UK, there is not a real country part of that sound. There is some sort of classic heartland/pop/rock sound more than anything wildly alternative in the mix. The music is catchy and there are horns and pretty good driving rhythms. Vocals vary in quality from good male/female harmonies to the useless Tom Waits light impersonation in “Liars Bar”. As is usually the case for me, I prefer the BBC recordings to the live tracks. Generally a BBC recording is “live in the studio”, so you get a rawer performance, but with studio quality. But as for the songs, they seem a bit too mainstream to me and do not rise to heights enough to excite me. There are some fine songwriting moves and arrangements such as found in “Song for Whoever” or “Rotterdam”. I found it interesting that although I was unfamiliar with this band’s material, after one listen the songs I like were the hits. So the band clearly has a few songs that are immediately catchy. But I would recommend newer listeners like myself to go back to the studio albums first if the desire is there. But if you are into this band, it should be fun to compare three versions of “You Keep it All in” including two quite different studio takes that are both on the sparse side compared to the one full-band live treatment. Of course, three versions of “Everybody’s Talking” are three more than I need when I already have my Fred Neil and Harry Nilsson versions. This one is for the fans and there is a lot here for them to enjoy.
© David Hintz

The Stone Hill All-Stars "The Stone Hill All-Stars"
Own label; 2011

From Baltimore, we have four all-stars making their own unique brand of music. Two of these musicians starred in the Polkats a couple decades back. They are back with a new rhythm section, new name and new musical direction. This album contains six originals and four covers from such diverse writers as Harold Arlen and Buck Owens. The style is a bit old school dance hall-barroom music, but with modern pace and sensibility. There is even a touch of reggae but mostly there are excellent jazzy bursts of spirited playing. Dancing piano work, jazz-rock guitar and a nice quietly sharp rhythm section achieve an interesting balance of sounds and styles. This is thoughtful music that generally requires the work of all-stars or at least veteran musicians. There is a lot of jazz, but I still sense it can find its audience in coffee houses and versatile rock clubs. I think any time where I can say that a band's originals are far superior to their covers, then we have a band that is worth listening to and watching down the road. I hope to see these guys in DC some time.
© David Hintz

Felonious Bosch "Toy Box"
Omnium, 2010

As a major fan of Boiled in Lead, I was pleased to see that the related Felonious Bosch is still releasing records. Boiled in Lead has worked a much slower schedule in recent years, so bass player Drew Miller has worked with some other intriguing musicians in Felonious Bosch for a few years now. And Boiled in Lead’s violinist, David Stenshoel is now part of the band. Like Boiled in Lead, this band twists and manipulates classic forms into some of the more intriguing music you will find. Bosch has employed medieval and gypsy music more than the Irish and African of Boiled in Lead, but even that is far too simplistic a definition. The twelve songs here cover a lot of ground. I enjoyed the rocking “Goliath” a lot as it reminded me of a Denver rock band like Munly crossed with jazz moves. There is some jazzy folk in “Peterson’s Cabin” and some sultry singing to a mysterious gypsy melody in “Geek Wedding”. I hope many people will challenge themselves to try this fascinating music. It is quite accessible in spite of its originality, which is always the mark of a successful release.
© David Hintz

Boiled in Lead "Silver"
Omnium, 2008

I actually discovered I already own a Boiled in Lead album from the late 80s, don't know when and why I acquired it. The world was much younger then, and it's funny to look at the pictures. There's a publicity shot of the Minneapolis-based band looking and posing like 80s wannabe rock stars did look and pose like. Singer-guitarist Todd Menton and drummer Robin Adnan Anders, fiddler David Stenshoel and bass player Drew Miller (the latter two also performing with Felonius Bosch, see review above) got together again, only adding guitar player Dean Magraw to the line-up. The music didn't change much, electric folk in the Steeleye Span vein.[25] Though the Leads didn't age that much as the Spans, and I mean this as a compliment. If this is Silver, Span is only Bronze. A further reference that comes to mind is the work of American guitarist John Wright.[29] There are rocking arrangements of traditional British and Irish songs such as the "Apple Tree Wassail" (an English blessing sourced from The Watersons)[36] or the "House Carpenter" (the well-known, haunting ghost story, here taken from Peter Bellamy)[38] There are a couple of hypnotic instrumental tracks, Cathal McConnell and Seamus Quinn's "Sunset Reel" is a fine example. There is also a huge interest in music beyond the Celtic realm: Robin's "Berber" is dedicated to the North African nomads, "Menfi" is an Algerian rai tune. It fits nicely into the overall sound. So if you're into Celtic rock, get this one! The Leads know their stuff, pure folk rock without jumping on the Pogues folk punk bandwagon.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Dazkarieh "Ruído do Silêncio"
Galileo Music, 2011

No, Portugal is not all about Fado, even when Dazkarieh[39] can be melancholic and solemn at times. However, their trademark is to explode in a post-punk fashion with distorted sounds, even if it is acoustic instruments they play on. Quero encontrar o pulsar do coração, ruído do silêncio - I want to find the beating of the heart, noising silence. Dazkarieh consequently developed their style over more than a decade and five albums and never left the path they've chosen, which makes them so exciting and unique. It certainly is extreme, balancing between spherical sound carpets and pure gutsy rock. But there is nothing of the gravity of Nordic metal folk, but unmistakenly mediterranean with some joie de vivre left. (Well, so is fado music.) There are 3 traditional Portuguese songs, the other 7 have lyrics by gorgeous singer Joana Negrão and music by bouzouki, nyckelharpa and bagpiper Vasco Ribeiro Casais. Let's not forget to mention guitarist Rui Rodrigues and drummer André Silva without whom the sound would be not complete. The booklet includes the original lyrics and English translations.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Cynthia MacLeod "Riddle"
Own label, 2010

Cynthia MacLeod from Prince Edward Island, Canada, is only in her mid twenties, but you can already call her an experienced and successful fiddler. Her fourth album displays an urban, well-travelled musician, but who knows the roots of the music. At times experimenting there is much energy and passion in her delivery of Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton tunes, including Irish lilting and Quebecois foot percussion. "Riddle" starts with the old Irish set dance "King of the Fairies" which many encounter as one of their first tunes to play, followed by the popular slip jig "Kid On the Mountain" and Dave Richardson's double jig "Calliope House". If you'd think you know everything about these tunes, start thinking again! "Riddle" is a mix of old and new tunes, including the odd Alasdair Fraser,[45] Kinnon Beaton,[28] and Jerry Holland.[40] Let me just single out the rhythmically odd "Washington Square Park" composed by Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell,[32] Niel Gow's rarely heard "Lament for James Moray of Abercarney", and Gerard Fahy's beautiful waltz "Dublin Airport" (which I already heard from Liam O'Connor & Lisa Aherne)[31] with just Cynthia's piano and fiddle playing. There's also one original ballad, which Cynthia wrote and performed with Nova Scotian singer/songwriter Dave Gunning, and the album finishes off with a kind of bonus track, Blue Rodeo's nu country song "Cynthia". Here Cynthia MacLeod doesn't appear at all, but let her musical and gifted friends pay their respects. She deserved it.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Les Hurlements d'Leo "Bordel de Luxe"
Ladilafé Prod., 2010

Chanson meets rock, musette meets ska, and electric guitars and drums battle with accordion, violin and brass with the revitalised Les Hurlements d'Leo from Bordeaux.[30] The Cyring Beasts are going for more than a decade, along the way collaborating with groups such as Les Ogres de Barback and 17 Hippies.[45] After a break of three years, four original band members and four newly found created not a swan song but one of the finest albums of their career. The lyrics are probably more topical than ever before, the sound is probably more rocking, with their poignant brass settings and playful violin and accordion left. So whereas Manu Chao & Co.[43] is lolling around in some luxurious bordello these days (you may translate the title as such), Les Hurlements d'Leo's post-punk neo-French Œuvre is a luxurious mess (another possibility to translate Bordel de Luxe). There is still live in the beast!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Ciara Sidine "Shadow Road Shining"
Own label, 2011

Well, Sidine, sounds Arabic, isn't it? In fact, it is shortened from Considine, Ciara is from Ireland, the Christian name is telling. Moreover, Ciara is the daughter of writer June Considine and niece of novelist Dermot Bolger, herself being a literary editor behind a couple of Irish bestsellers. Her own literary output is confined to the short form - the song! Forget the Irish thing for a while, Ciara's debut album "Shadow Road Shining" is an Americana and Alt.Country album as pure as can be, well, of the sort that owes more to the Cowboy Junkies than to Johnny Cash.[44] It reminds me a lot of Michelle Shocked,[24] and not of her worst stuff, but rather the album I wished she would have made for years. I also hear a lot of Irish-born singer Susan McKeown.[44] But well, Ciara is her own talent. There's some catchy tunes, brought to life thanks to a studio band featuring Steve Wickham (Waterboys, No Crows), Swell Seasons' Dave Hingerty and Van Morrison's Paul Moore and Justin Carroll. "Constellations High", a duet with singer/songwriter Jack L (aka Jack Lukeman) is probably not the most successful track, but the most country. I prefer her own singing - be it the traditional opener "Riding Home" or her own, highly original Œuvre.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Lazik "Far Fetched"
Own label, 2011

Another Irish band straying on foreign shores. At least Lazik is based in Cork and the album is recorded in Donncha Moynihan's Rise Studio,[43] but the outfit led by Breton clarinettist Dylan Gully is a multi-culti band with Irish members as well as from France and the Lowlands, such as Dutch fiddler Stella Rodrigues who played with We nun Henk:[29] a reflection of the eclectic cultural melting pot that Cork has become. Quite fittingly, "Far Fetched" starts with Nicolas Quemener's ridees six temps "Take Six", followed by the Bulgarian "Gankino Horo" in 11/8 time (already popular with Irish musicians). Not an obvious choice, and so is the traditonal Bulgarian song "Katerino Mome" and the traditional Serbian dance "Shota" (the latter I heard from an Austrian band playing east European music). Balkan it is, but Balkan put into a contemporary Celtic soundscape, where the East European dramatic is substituted with a certain Irish lightness. It is a journey from West - Breton dance tunes and the French song "Marions les Roses" - to East - Romanian Horas and the Bulgarian 7/8 piece "Chetvorno Horo" (Andy Irvine and Davy Spillane did it),[11] the Yiddish love song "Di Zaposhkelekh" and Šaban Bajramović's[37] popular song "Opa Cupa" -, from the North - the Swedish "Pennknivsmördaren" (I think Malinky did this one)[32] and Annbjørg Lien's[37] "Istanbul" - to ... no, not really to the South ... so you might put Mishka Tsiganoff's "Grichisher Tantz" and the middle eastern "Hijaz Dolab" into a southern context rather than an eastern. The performance is tight, the whole album a listening pleasure. Lazik would fit on any European folk festival stage. So when do they come?
© Walkin' T:-)M

Julie Fowlis "Live at Perthshire Amber"
Machair Records, 2011

Eventually, traditional Scottish singer Julie Fowlis is recorded live on stage, so that everyone who knew her only from her studio albums may experience her passionate live delivery of traditional Gaelic song. With Éamon Doorley (bouzouki),[42] Duncan Chisholm (fiddle),[42] Tony Byrne (guitar) and Martin O'Neill (bodhran) she played last year's Perthshire Amber Festival in Pitlochry, run every year by singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean. Julie is in fine form, you're caught from the very first song, the a capella "Ho bna mi, he bha mi" praising the beauty of her native Uist on the Hebridean islands. "Live at Perthshire Amber" is featuring ballads and mouth music from all three of Julie's studio albums.[31][34][41] So you can start with listening to Julie Fowlis here, or complete your Julie Fowlis catalogue. Despite an extensive record collection of my own I'm still surprised that I know most of the songs only from Julie singing. Only "Hùg air a' bhonaid mhòir" (Celebrate the Great Bonnet) I recall performed by piper Lorne MacDougall.[44] There is also included her Gaelic version of the Beatles' "Blackbird" ("Lon-Dubh"), and as an encore a bilingual version of Dougie MacLean's "Pabay Mòr", featuring Dougie himself, which is a nice enough song but probably not the grande finale of a gorgeous selection of Scots Gaelic music. Applause, standing ovations, right so!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Doolin "Angels Are Free"
Own label, 2009

Doolin is a small village on the west coast of Ireland. There is a ferry to the Aran Islands, but more important the scattered houses and its three pubs became a centre of traditional Irish music over the past decades.[40] Of course, a French band named after it plays traditional Irish music. Though the title track, "Angels Are Free", had been written by the band's guitar player Nicolas Besse, but the song rendered by Wilfried Besse is the least impressive cut of the album. The traditional song "When Will We Be Married" and the bonus track "Paddy's Lamentation" work much better for me. But in any case, the French group is a vibrant band, belting out tunes with energy and passion. I'm not sure who is the leader? Is it accordionist Wilfried Besse, fiddler Guilhem Cavaille and tin and low whistler Jacob Fournel deciding about the pace, or is it driven by bass player Sébastien Saunié and bodhran player Josselin Fournel? Just listen to their choice of Gordon Duncan's reel "Pressed for Time". The hornpipe "Big Dan O'Mahoney" (it's in O'Neill's, but I know only one recording of it - guess who, French harpist Katrien Delavier)[38] is a nice selection way off the beaten track, and beautifully performed on the low whistle. Wilfried Besse wrote a couple of jigs and polkas, which are not too bad, as well as Jacob and Josselin Fournel. Two waltzes, composed by Guilhem Cavaillé and Nicolas Besse, respectively, don't sound much like waltzes despite their French titles and 3/4 metre. Furthermore, the band indulges in a 5/4 and 6/4 time extravaganza, before eventually finishing off with a grand finale including the great slip jig "Humours Of Whiskey".
© Walkin' T:-)M

Colin Farrell "On the Move"
Own label, 2010

The Mancunian fiddler of Irish descent who settled in Florida did leave the Irish band Grada some time ago,[33] and likewise his former band colleague Andy Laking is offering his solo debut. Solo debut, however, means doing the Lunasa/McGoldrick way of things,[41] you will easily recognise Colin's mates: Michael McGoldrick, John Joe Kelly, Mike Galvin, Donald Shaw, Alan Doherty, a trumpet here, some tablas there. There is also some surprise: while Andy swapped his double bass with the guitar to highlight his own songwriting, Colin plays whistle on most tracks, and with only two or three the tunes are all his own. They are named after places he've seen and people he met, recollecting his ramblings from Ballydoyle to Sheelin Side. Colin's on the move. However, the album is not only about adding to your tune repertory, but a joy in itself. A talented fiddler and composer, a great band and gorgeous delivery.
© Walkin' T:-)M

na-mara "The Bite"
Own label, 2010

You may put na-mara (sic, no capitals) on the list of enjoyable English duos, such as veteran Knightley and Beer[34] or young Cadie and Bloomer.[44] The band's name is not Gaelic (which would have been a bit odd for them Hertfordshire based), but comes from singer and guitar player Paul McNamara (guitar, vocals). Rob García (mandola, mandolin, guitar) represents the other half, and Fairport's Chris Leslie adds a fine fiddle.[39] The duo's third album has a nice selection of songs and tunes. There is the traditional Northern Irish "The Flower of Magherally" and Nic Jones's version of the traditional English "Billy Don't You Weep For Me". Paul is an ingenious songwriter in the traditional vein, see his song about Edinburgh body-snatchers. Rob's father was brought to Britain from Bilbao as a child in 1937 after the Guernica bombing, "Only For Three Months (Solo Por Tres Meses)" recounts his tale. The title track, "The Bite," is a tribute to the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War,[26] with the bite being a piece of wood placed in the mouth to clench on in battle as kind of defence against shell shock. Paul did write both songs again, not Rob as you would perhaps think. The two instrumental sets are tunes from Galicia and Asturia, including the "Muineira Carcarosa" which Lunasa did play.[42] There is also a French angle with translations of the traditional murder ballads "L’Auberge Sanglante" (The Bloody Inn, sourced from Malicorne) and "La Fille Mère" (The Child Mother), the Breton sea shanty "Tri Martolod" (Three Matelots) which Alan Stivell used to do, and eventually the traditional French Canadian song "Les Larmes Aux Yeux" (Tears In My Eyes), Le Vent du Nord's hudy-gurdy player Nicolas Boulerice put a tune to.[35] The latter also includes a reel titled "Le Vent du Nord" from the pen of Fiona Cuthill.[41] Well done, lads!
© Walkin' T:-)M

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