Issue 5 7/98
FolkWorld CD ReviewsJim Malcolm "Rohallion"
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX 150; Playing time: 47.03 min
As one of the best young Singer / Songwriter out of Scotland, Jim Malcolm can widen with his second CD his reputation. Jim has a very own singing style somewhere between traditional and very modern, which is backed by his collegues of his new trio 'Rohallion' Dave Watt (keyboards, melodica) and Ian MacFadyen (drums & percussion) and - as guest musicians - Tabache's Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle) and Deaf Shepherd's Rory Campbell (whistles).
His songwriting is exceptional, Jim is a person with many interests, and he cares about the nature, politics, wars, etc. - and you find all these themes in songs. Nowadays you can find more and more singers singing Jims songs.
Hopefully this CD will make him better known - he is worth a listen!
You can also find in this FolkWorld issue a interview with Jim.
Carlene Anglim & Alistair Gittens "Mellow Frenzy"
Label: KRL/Lochshore Reords; CDLD1276; Spielzeit: 48.09 min
Carlene Anglim and Ali could and can be seen this summer at loads of English festivals - they are new stars of the English scene, proving again the highest quality of musical standard to be found nowadays in the young English folk scene.
Carlene's fiddle playing is simply stunning - she plays with such a deep feeling for the music, she plays directly out of her heart - these sweet fiddle sounds just take you away. Carlene's musical partner Ali gives subtle, innovative guitar accompaniment. Together their sound is huge; this is music to listen to - you are not able to concentrate on anything else, the music is that exciting and moving.
Carlene is not that new in the scene; she has won the BBC2 Young Tradition Award in 1993, and has played in the renowned band Bohinta. This is her first duo album with Ali; the tunes, mainly trad, range from sensuously slow to virtuously fast, the base is mainly Irish, but with influences of diverse other music styles.
Just very few fiddlers (like Martin Hayes) can match with the deep knowledge, virtuosity and excitement of the playing of this 22 year old girl. Her playing takes my breath away - just amazing!
Aufwind "Awek die junge jorn"
Label: Misrach Musik; MSR 0144-2; playing time: 56.57 min
Yiddish songs and Klezmer music par excellence. Aufwind are a German 5-piece band whose love and interest is the music and songs of the Eastern European Jews. The three founders of Aufwind, Claudia Koch (voclas, violin, viola), Hardy Reich (vocals, mondolin, guitar) and Andrea Rohde (vocals, bandoneon, guitas), when still living in the GDR, undertook extended studies of Yiddish language, history and culture in the Jewish centres of several Eastern European countries. The three are joined nowadays by Jan Hermerschmidt on clarinette and Heiko Rötzscher on bass. The clarinette is also the main instruments in the instrumental Klezmer pieces.
They have developed a deep feeling for Yiddish culture; the songs are presented with much emotion, telling of despair, hope, love; they have their origin in diverse Eastern European countries and are mainly traditional. I am impressed by most of the songs – by their lyrics and background as well as their arrangements. The arrangements are unusual, sound fresh and exciting.
Aufwind – definitely a band to watch out for on the Yiddish/Klezmer scene.
Label: Misrach Musik; e-mail Andreas @ Misrach
Michael Farr "Invisible Gods"
Label: Autumn Moon Records; Holly Street Music hsm1731; Playing Time: 38.59 min
'Invisible Gods' is the debut album of Nashville based singer/songwriter Michael Farr as well as the debut of Autumn Moon Records, a new label for acoustic music and singer/songwriters.
Michael is a good songwriter as well as a skilled guitarist. I enjoy listening to his relaxed and intimate singing; the songs are often lyrical, and talk about people - e.g. the fool on the train or his son Vincent. All songs and the two guitar tunes are written by Michael himself; the accompaniment on fiddle, dobro, bass and drums is all in all well done, just that in my opinion the drums in a few songs could well have been left out.
I liked this recording (just the booklet is still very basic); and if Autumn Moon keeps up this high standard they have set with their first release, we can look forward for more quality recordings from Nashville.
Michael's Homepage, e-mail Autumn Moon
Rev Hammer "Freeborn John"
Cooking Vinyl; COOKCD111; 16 Tracks; Playing Time: 47.51 min
The English Songwriter Rev Hammer and numerous guest musicians tell the story of John Lilburne (1615-1657), the leader of the Levellers, the
radical reformers of 17th century England. Known as "Freeborn John", he struggled for freedom
of speech and freedom of conscience for all his life, resulted in being whipped and pilloried
(Phil Johnstone: "The Whipping Song"), imprisoned for High Treason by Charles I. (Maddy
Prior: "Elizabeth's Great Gallop") and Oliver Cromwell (Eddi Reader: "Bonny Besses"), and
banished to Flanders (Rev Hammer: "Exile"). Of course, there is also a track by the English
folkrockers "The Levellers" themselves ("Burford Stomp"). The album is difficult to classify,
Rev Hammer plays with every musical genre. My personal favourites are the ballad "England's
New Chains" and the rocking "Commons of England". A booklet contains all lyrics and
Robin Laing "The Angel's
Greentrax; CDTRAX 137; 16 Tracks; Playing Time: 41.10 min
An entire album dedicated to Scotland's most famous export - Whiskey! Apart from the fact that he stole an idea, the result is a nice
compilation. Robin Laing sings (and recites) of the medical effect and the delight of
excessive consumption of the Scottish "water of life", religious disapproval and punishing
liquor taxes. There are well known songs ("The Deil's Awa' wi' th' Exciseman"), more unknown
traditional ("The Parish o' Dunkeld") and contemorary pieces ("Our Glens") as well as
original material ("More Than Just A Dram"). You should not expect any alcohol-inspired
bawling, the tracks are rather quiet. Robin Laing kept the arrangement minimal; it's mostly
just voice and simple accompaniment on the guitar. I recommend to have a dram and this CD and
make yourself comfortable.
Lunasa; LSA001; 11 Tracks; Playing Time: 46.32 min
"Lunasa" is the debut album of the celebrated Irish musicians - "they remind me of a band I used to play with" (Ex-Bothy Band's Matt Molloy). New band but not new
faces: flautist Mike McGoldrick plays with Capercaille and Flook!, Uilleann piper John
McSherry is known from Tamalin and the Donal Lunny Band, Trevor Hutchinson (bass) and Donogh
Hennessey (guitar) are members of the Sharon Shannon Band and fiddler Sean Smyth was working
with Steve Cooney and Donal Lunny. The album is comprised largely of live recordings showing
the musical scope of the band: solo playing, complex interaction and improvisation over the
melodies, underlaid by guitar and bass. Besides the typical reels and jigs there are Breton
airs, a Klezmir piece and a Gavotte. There is no break up of the instrumentals with occasional
songs as in other traditional bands. Do not be detered from the hype about Lunasa, they are one
of the most exciting acts at present. I am longing for more.
Label: Grappa Musikkforlag HCD7135; Playing Time 51.16 min
This one's great stuff. Yggdrasil hail from Norway, and this seems to be their debut CD. The band plays exciting Nordic based music; the tunes are mostly based on fiddle or Hardanger fiddle and clarinette, completed by Tuba, recorder or didgeridoo and accordion or mouth harp. This is backed by percussion and guitar, giving a modern and special feeling. Some songs and mouth music add another flavour to the exciting mix. You might file Yggdrasil under Norwegian Trance Music; the music is dark and beautiful, with the typical Scandinavian flavour in it.
With Yggdrasil, another name can be added to the likes of Chateau Neuf Spelmannslag, Väsen, Garmana and Hoven Droven, carrying the flag of the new, modern and cool Scandinavian folk music scene. Go and get this album – it takes you away into the beauties of Scandinavia, you will be caught by the music, and the CD won't leave your CD player for a long time...
E-mail Grappa Musikkforlag
Ronnie Taheny MCD "Saviour" & MCD "Photograph"
Label: Arty Records; ARTY02 & ARTY03
Two singles ŕ two songs of the Australian singer/songwriter who does not feel herself like a folk musician. OK, these singles show her - at least for the European listener - not really in a very folky songwriter style. Backed by drums, percussion and bass, the overall feeling is more Rock/Pop. Still it's good stuff - Ronnie is a great songwriter, and it happens that her songs won't leave your thoughts for days. I personally like better the 'Photograph' single - two great songs with a catchy chorus.
But now please do not think that she is really just a rock/pop singer - go and catch her on one of her many solo tours throughout the world. You will see that she - with just her guitar and voice - is a brilliant folk performer, a great songwriter with influences from diverse music styles, and with a very friendly and personal way of performing. She has all what a good folk performer needs - if you go to see her, enjoy it, but don't tell her that she does folk music - otherwise you need a good explanation for that!
Contact: Tel. 00353-87-447657
Bernard Hoskin "Look at the World"
Label: Aurora Sound Recordings; ASR9; Playing Time: 48.23 min
Bernard Hoskin is a singer/songwriter based near Cambridge; this is his ninth album and second CD. It consists of 10 original compositions plus two English traditionals. Bernard's songs tell about the problems of the world - the unsustainable way of living or the human desire to explore the unknown - and about thoughts of people - memories of childhood or a phone call home. Bernard has a soft voice, and for some of the serious songs, I would say his voice and singing is not expressive enough.
On the album, he plays guitar, keys, perc. bass and mandolin; and he is accompanied by especially saxophone and bass. The arrangements are partly a bit poppy/easy listening, with soft drums etc.; sometimes the saxophone adds an interesting flavour into the music. Still, all in all this album pleasant listening, though I cannot really find the African influences Bernard promises in his press release.
Bernard Hoskin's Homepage
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