Issue 7 12/98
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Ben Sands "Roots & Branches"
Label: Spring Records; SCD 1043; Playing time: 48.46 min,
Ben Sands, part of the legendary Sands Family, a family of singers and songwriters from Northern Ireland, has finally made his second, long awaited solo album - five years after his last one...
Ben has a rich, warm voice, and his way of presenting songs is just beautiful. The album creates a relaxed atmoshere, and often, while listening to his songs, my mind is wandering away and I am starting a wonderful trip of day dreaming.
14 musicians are helping Ben on this album as guests, including his family and other well known names of the Northern Irish scene. They are give a good backing on fiddle, accordion, guitar, pipes, whistle, double bass, cello,etc., while Ben's songs always stay central in the music (except in the instrumentals). Ben knows very well which songs suit to his singing - on this album you can hear Stan Rodger's 'First Christmas away from home', Kate Wolf's 'Green Eyes', the traditional 'The Verdant Braes Of 'Screen' or even the excellent presented 'The Games People Play' of Joe South. But the highlights of the album are the songs written by Ben himself: 'Good to be home' and the two very funny songs 'Back on the diet on monday' and 'Going to Morrow' (written by Ben together with Bob Gibson and Iain MacIntosh).
And apart from hearing his album, you should try to see him live some time, because apart from being a fine singer, he is a very nice and funny guy as well...
Spring Records, 50 Shore Road, Rostrevor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, e-mail Ben
Clau de Lluna "Obertura"
Label: Música Global; Referencia 22296/03; Playing time: 53.38 min
Catalonia, the Eastern Spanish region, has its very own regional folk music style, totally different to Spain's most famous folk music, the Flamenco. Clau de Lluna are a five piece band, formed in 1989 with the aim to promote Catalan folk music in the daily lives. They play music in the traditional Catalan style.
Obertura is their third album of traditional and self composed music, featuring six songs in Catalan language and six tunes. On instruments like bagpipes (sac de gemecs), flutes (flabiol), hurdy gurdy, diatonic accordion, fiddle, tamborine and percussion, the band reflects in their music a bit of Catalonia itself - you hear the happy atmosphere, feel even the sun; and at the same time you can experience a band where you feel that the musicians believe in their music and traditions.
An exciting CD from one of the many regional cultures of Spain. Expect sooner or later an online interview with Clau de Lluna in FolkWorld...
Clau de Llunas Homepage with contact addresses
Marc Robine "l'exil"
Label: EPM Musique; 984342; Playing time: 72.24 min
Marc Robine is a French folk chansonnier and chanteur. Most of his songs he writes himself, but he also sings several poems and songs by other contemporary writers. Marc sings about journeys of life, about love, homesickness and other feelings; his songs are often lyrical, and tell about his own experiences.
On this album, he has more a 'chanson' than a 'folk' backing: He himself on guitar and banjo, and plenty of guests on guitars, clarinette, drums and brass instruments. And, of course, on the album you can also hear Patrice Lacaud on diatonic accordion - Patrice joins him on most of his tours; together in live, the two musicians create very much a folk feeling.
Marc is one of the few French singers who can manage to attract a folk as well as a French Chanson audience. If you like good French songs, you will definitely like this singer. The album is enjoyable, though at some stages less instruments would have done better; but go and catch Marc Robine and Patrice Lacaud live - that's what they are the best in!
Contact Marc at fax number (F)-42.02.10.81
Label: Cooking Vinyl; Cook CD 160; Playing time: 61.50 min
As you see in the title of this album, this guy likes internet. Don't forget to visit his homepage - it's a bit heavy, but great fun with lots of his lovely, funny drawings. But now let's come to the music of the andywhite.compilation.
Featured are 14 Andy White songs. Now the information which songs are from which album are a bit confusing - it looks like most of the songs are songs of his six older albums, but several are different to the album versions, or are the original EP version, or the first demo recording. 8 of the 14 songs were produced in 1998. So much about the statistics.
Andy White is a great Irish songwriter, singing in a style that definitely cannot be called traditional Irish; it's sometimes more poppy or rocky. In his songs there is a lot of wit and charme, some great word games - it is all in all very entertaining. The selection of songs on this Compilation is well done; and the fans will definitely find many of their Andy White favourite songs. Just to take one example I like - 'Looking for James Joyce's Grave' describes the difficulties to find James Joyce's grave in Switzerland - great lyrics...
It's nice stuff collected on this collection; it's fun to listen. And now don't forget to visit Andy's website...
Cooking Vinyl, PO Box 1845 London W3 0ZA, England
Simon Thoumire Orchestra "Celtic Connections Suite"
Label: Tartan Tapes; CDTT1005; Playing time: 62.23 min
Next Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow is coming soon (15.-31.01'99) - just in time Simon Thoumire's newest work is available, the 'Celtic Connection Suite'.
The project of the Simon Thoumire Orchestra has a quite modern jazz, rock and folk outfit. The orchestra is combining some of the finest Scottish musicians of these genres: John McCusker (fiddle, Battlefield Band), Mike Katz (pipes, whistle, Battlefield Band), Dick Lee (Clarinet), Phil Bancroft (sax), Kevin MacKenzie (guitar, Swirler, KIU), Simon Thorpe (double bass), both Iain Copeland (Peatbog Faeries) and Tom Bancroft on drums and percussion, and of course, not to forget, Simon Thoumire himself on concertina, pipes and whistle.
Simon was commissioned by the festival to write a piece of music to mark the opening of their festival club. The suite is a combination of parts of traditional music, jazz, rock and everything in between. It consists of three parts: The first is 'Celtic Connections Club' ( 13.21min) - Simon tries here to capture the atmosphere of the great club. The second part 'Fiesta in the Highlands (18.09 min) has nothing to do with Spanish holidays in the highlands or something like that - it is simply the musical story of a trip through the magnificent Scotttish highlands in a Ford Fiesta. And the third part of the suite is quite special too: In 'The World Bagpipe Championship' (17.15 min) Simon paints a musical picture of an annual Scottish event, the World Bagpipe Championship. At that occassion you can hear everywhere pipes (and drum) music in various combinations: solo pipers, goups of pipers, pipes and drums, etc...
The album is completed by three shorter pieces of music, one played by the orchestra, the other two by Simon plus guitar/guitar and fiddle.
An album showing the jazz end of folk music, proving that Simon still likes to have some great folk jazz sessions...
The Poozies "Infinite Blue"
Label: Pure Records; PRCD03; Playing time: 48.53 min
The new album of the Scottish/English all female quartett Poozies (the first one on Pure Records) is the first full album with the new singer Kate Rusby (who replaced Sally Barker about two years ago).
This album is an excellent showcase of the different influences and traditions of the band members. Kate from Yorkshire (North-East England) , provides a haunting voice with a soft spot of Yorkshire accent - just listen to the song 'Neptune' of Scottish singer/songwriter Jim Malcolm to be taken away by her singing. Karen Tweed on accordion brings quite diverse influences into the band; firstly, it is her long love for Irish music (which you can hear in 'Crooked Road to Dublin'), secondly her interest for wyred music for the accordion (an good example is 'Lost in Fishponds' by the Bristol band Spiro, formerly known as Famous Five) and last but not least she brings in traditional music from Scandinavia, especially Sweden. For the ears of those who normally listen to Celtic music only, these Scandinavian sounds may sound a bit strange - but it is very beautiful! The Scottish musicians of the band are Mary Macmaster and Patsy Seddon (also known as harp duo Sileas). The two girls throw in a big bag of Scottish traditions and influences - e.g. the magic traditional Gaelic song 'Si Morac' or the traditional song in Scottish language 'The Shepherd's Wife'.
These girls are a very vibrant band of highly talented musicians combining lots of interesting influences with a very characteristic and homogenues sound called collectivley 'The Poozies'!
Pure Records, PO Box 174, Penistone S30 9BJ
Sanna Kurki-Suonio "Musta"
Label: Zen Garden Records; GAR 24; Playing time: 41.10 min
A powerful Finnish voice treated in many different manners - if this is what you are looking for, then Sanna Kurki-Suonio's debut album 'Musta' is exactly the right one for you!
Sanna, vocalist of Hednegarna, has experimented on her album quite a lot. The first song on the CD is just Sanna's voice (22 tracks layered next to and on top of each other) - the approach is modern and fascinating. Directly the next track sounds modern, too, but this time created with samples and machines. Other tracks are in a more traditional style. Always Sanna's very powerful voice is in focus of the music, with different backings. This album seems to be a bit of a test where the limits of her singing style are - the whole album sounds (at least quite) modern. Sanna managed to make the album sound like one unit although there are very different solutions of creating a special Sanna Kurki-Suonio sound.
Highly recommended to all who like strong Scandinavian voices in a fascinating modern approach.
Zen Garden Records
The Chieftains & Guests"Fire in the Kitchen"
Label:BMG Records; 09026 631332; 11 tracks; Playing time: 53.32 min
The Chieftains are back! Having recorded with many other musicians of different music styles, they have chosen Canada this
time for their musical experiments. They recorded 11 tracks with 11 different bands and solo artists, sometimes they are just in
the background, sometimes they are right in the front playing along with all those artists like The Leahys, Great Big Sea, Natalie
MacMaster, Ashley MacIssac, La Bottine Sourriante to name but a few. Almost all traditional music styles in Canada are
represented, attempting to create "a foot-stomping, hand-clapping Celtic House Party" (label on CD-Cover), whatever this
exactly means. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. There are tracks on the CD, which make you wonder where the
Chieftains (30 years on stage now) get their energy from, but sometimes it seems they are overtaken by the younger generation.
I am afraid there are some sets, which wouls have been more lively and more footstomping without them. But then, without
them, some of the bands would never have got as much attention over here in Europe as they got with the Chieftains. It still is a
quality sign to "have recorded with the Chieftains"
Robert Fish Band "Dancing with Fish"
Label: Tartan Tapes; CDTT 1002; playing time: 55.31 min
The Robert Fish Band is a ceilidh Band from Scotland, and they have played mainly for dancers and social dancing. But hold
on, this is neither the umpah umpah ceilidh band stuff nor the party folk rock you get very often from younger bands. Although
they have a strong rhythm section (drums, bass,guitar) they have beautiful and very danceable arrangements, without losing the
connection to the tunes. It's always the tune and the way it is played that has that lift, only supported by the accompaniment.
The Tunes are played by two fiddles, accordion and whistle. There is a nice selection of tunes, from scottish 2/4 marches over
better known ones to some Cape Breton stuff, not forgetting the tunes from the Shetlands. Concertina virtuoso Simon Thoumire
has produced a CD which makes me want to see this band live, you get the impression they are even better when they have a
dancing crowd in front of them.
Tartan Tapes: Tel.+17 Redford Drive, Edingburgh EH13 0BL Scotland, Tel.: +44 131441 3135
Various "Heat the Hoose"
Label: Tartan Tapes; CDTT 1004; playing time: 46.06 min
Here is another gem from Tartan Tapes, which is, like the Robert Fish CD, produced by Simon Thoumire. This time it is a live
recording of Fiddle '97, the second festival of the Scots fiddle, which took place in November1997 in Edingburgh. It brought
together some great musicians not only from Scotland, but also from Donegal and Nova Scotia. Among the players featured
are Alasdair Fraser (with Tony McManus on guitar !), a group called Connaillaigh from Donegal, which consists of ex Altan
member Paul O'Shaughnessy, Liz Doherty, Caoimhin MacAoidh und Roisin & Damien Harrigan, all outstanding musicians on
their own, but together they are furious, also Deaf Shepherd fiddle player Clare McLaughlin with two wonderfully played
hornpipes, the younger generation shows up with some wild, but always accurate sets. All the tracks are outstanding fiddle
music, most of them of traditional origin, some more recently composed (credits are given to J.S.Skinner, Willie Hunter, Charlie
McKerron, Brian McNeill, to mention some of them) without any noisy accompaniment, the pure drop. No need for a drum kit
when all the power is in the tune itself.....
Definetely one of the best CDs I have heard recently, a must have for the fiddle music lover, but also for everybody who
seriously interested in traditional scottish (irish etc.) music. Great stuff !!!
Tartan Tapes: Tel.+17 Redford Drive, Edingburgh EH13 0BL Scotland, Tel.: +44 131441 3135
Tara "Reeds, Strings, Skins"
Label: Black Rat Management ; CDTARA001; playing time: 60.43 min
From England comes Tara, consisting of: Paul Collins-Uillean Pipes, Highland Pipes and Whistles, Malcolm Britton-Vocals,
Guitar and Mandocello and Ian Gibbon: Bodhran, African drums and Percussion. There are 6 Songs (4 of them original) and 7
Sets of tunes to be found on their first recording. The songs are well done and nicely arranged. Some of them remind of the
american songwriter tradition, others are full of atmosphere. The tune-sets however need some improvements: Sometimes there
is too much percussion distracting from the tune, sometimes it is all a bit fast and accuracy is missing. On slower tune pieces like
"Path through the wood" Paul Collins is able to show that he is a fine musician.
After all a nice debut album, which can do with some improvements
Black Rat Management, Tel.+44 1594 860293, P.O. Box 5 Lydbrook, GL17 9QC UK
Jassa Mariano "Chegada Global"
Label: Traumton Records; Traumton 4447/INDIGO CD 8484-2; Playing time: 54.53 min
Born in Sao Paulo, Jassa Mariano emigrated to Germany in 1987. First living from his music, he later decided to start an apprenticeship in a hotel, and learn German. He opened a Brazilean Restaurant in Berlin which has become a popular meeting place of the Brazilean szene. He organised concerts there, and started to go on stage again. In 1997 he founded a new band, and here is finally his debut recording.
On this album, you can here a sympathetic mixture of Latin and Brazil Folk Pop in both Portuguese and German language. Jassa is supported by an international mix (Brazilean, German, Russian etc.) of musicians, on instruments such as piano, guitars, a brass section (sax, trumpet, trombone) and bass, percussion and drums. Most of the songs are written by Jassa, they (at least the German ones) tell in simple and naive words about love; in the German songs Jassa sings in a warm and nice accent. One song is Jassa's translation of the German classic 'Als ich fortging' (well actually I have never heard of this 'classic' song).
It is all quite poppy, but you always have a Latin or Brazil feeling in the music. The meeting of Portuguese and German language makes this album extraordinary...
Traumton Records; Grunewaldstr. 9, D-13597 Berlin, Germany; e-mail
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