Issue 9 5/99
FolkWorld CD Reviews
North Cregg "... And They Danced All Night"
Magnetic Music MMR CD1026; 12 Tracks; Playing Time: 46.04 min
North Cregg from Cork is a new Irish band aiming to conquer the world of folk. The button accordeon of Christy Leahy gives the band's distinct sound. Christy seems to have a bias for the infamous Sliabh Luachra polkas. Fiddler Caoimhin Vallely from the Vallely family of Armagh adds some Northern reels, Ciaran Coughlan on the syncopated piano and Martin Leahy on the brush played snare drum form the rhythm section. Guitarist John Neville sings four original songs and the classic Country ballad "Roseville Fair". John's voice, particularly on the traditional-style "Pressganged Paddy", recalls the traditional recordings of Paul Brady from the seventies. Competition is tough, North Cregg, however, shows some remarkable talent.
Delyth Jenkins "Ar y Ffin"
SAIN Records; SAIN C2206; 15 Tracks; Playing Time: 52.28 min
Telyn (wasp-sound) was the gut-string harp of the Welsh harpers called by their Irish collegues who played on metals strings (meanwhile the Irish changed themselves). But the second album of the Welsh harper Delyth Jenkins (formerly Delyth Evans, possibly known from Aberjaber and Cromlech) is no offense to your ears at all. Delyth plays mostly traditional Welsh tunes, some original compositions as well as two bourrees and an andante from the French composer Cornelius Gurlitt. Her original
air "Castle Hill" may become a popular tune by traditional musicians. She leaves beaten tracks on "Tylwyth Twerch" which is accompanied by a jazzy trumpet and bass. Even the gaita, the Galician bagpipe, on the Scottish "Iain Ruairidh's Lament" fits well in the sound of the harp. "Ar y Ffin" (on the border) is the right description of Delyth's balance between yesterday's and today's harp music.
Sain Records; e-mail; Liandwrog, Caernarfon, GB-Gwynedd LL54 5TG, Wales.
Misericordia "Robin m'aime"
ADA 01482-868024; Playing time: 61.00 min
Do you feel like going on a short trip to medieval France? The English duo Misericordia invites us for a trip on their new CD
"Robins m'aime". Anne Marie Summers and Stephen Tyler play 12 tracks/61 minutes dances and songs from France and Italy. They are
supported by Crwth player and percussionist Sean Breadin and bagpiper Judy Rockcliff.
The mute of this CD changes from spiritual to cheerfull. But above all, the music is always authentic. This goes for the used instruments
like hurdy gurdies, bagpipes, gothic harp, saz, shawm, recorders, gemshorns, crwth, but also for the arrangement. The musicians
interprete the ancient songs very carefully. Therefore "Robins m'aime" can be recommended for connaisseurs of "classic mediaval music",
without any concession to modern pop-rock-culture.
E-mail misericordia, (Homepage under construction)
Robin Bullock "Between Earth and Sky: The Pulse of Celtic Music"
Label: Maggie's Music (MMCD 221)
Every now and then a CD comes along that gives a jaded reviewer's ears an aural massage. This is one of those CDs. Coming from American
multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock, it is an all instrumental album of traditional and contemporary tunes played on cittern and guitar. And it is
With help on flute and whistle from Joanie Madden, and accordion from John Whelan, Robin Bullock provides moments of real Irish fire in the tune sets. There are also quieter moments that bring the music of 18th century Irish composer O'Carolan lovingly into the present. But for me the most exquisite tune is one of Bullock's own - "Stefan and Liz's Waltz". This beautiful slow waltz, somewhat reminiscent of "Ashokan Farewell" (the "Civil War" television theme), has all the depth and clarity of a mountain lake.
There are a couple of small complaints. Occasional passages rely too heavily on multi-tracking. While Mr Bullock plays all instruments
frighteningly well, these passages fail to display the kind of synergy he achieves with "real" co-players. And although I found the djembe
(percussion) on "Brew House Reel" clever, it is intrusively busy for this style of music. Still this is a CD that rarely disappoints, demonstrating
that subtle and beautiful Celtic music can be produced on the American side of the Atlantic too.
Bleizi Ruz "Celtic Trip"
Label: Shamrock Records; 1039-2; Playing time: 46.23 min
Bleizi Ruz's current newest album is from 1996 (the next one is already planned!); but it is still worth a recommendation. Bleizi ruz are on this album: Eric Liorzou (of course!) on guitares, mandolin and Lead Vocals, Loic Leborgne on accordeon, Thierry Decloux on bass guitars, Bernard Quillien on bombardes and gaita, and finally David Hopkins on percussions. Nine songs and four instrumentals make up a strong mixture of high quality Breton music. The songs are all in Breton language, and are for the biggest part written by Jakez Leborgne; still they have very traditional Breton themes and rhythms. Many of the songs are in the typical dance rhythms, An Dro, Cercle Cercassian etc, reminding of the fact that Bleizi Ruz play still in these days regular for dances at home in Brittany.
A really nice CD, which is very close to Breton traditions, still innovative enough to get its very own appeal.
Bleizi Ruz' Homepage
Cían "Three Shouts from a Hill"
Label: Cían Music; Recs. 001; Playing time: 43.08 min
This is another proof for the quality that the young Irish Music scene currently produces. Cían is the latest project of Tim Murray, former member of Ireland's young top band Danú. Cían is a traditional four piece band that brings a new and fresh appeal to traditional Irish tunes and songs. Four outstanding trad musicians form the band: Tim Murray plays guitar and sings, Brian Duke is an All Ireland Fleadh winner on the Flute, with Padraig Rynne they have a talented concertina player, and finally, Damien Quinn gives with Bodhrßn and Percussions some driving backing . The tunes are all trad; the lads offer the listerner kicking and lively Jigs and Reels plus a set of Slow Reels, a Hornpipe and an Air. The two songs (Who are you and Unquiet Grave) give some rest from the lively tunes; Tim does a good job with enjoyable interpretations of traditional songs, only subtle accompanied.
This album is a masterpiece of Irish traditional music, and is a must for every lover of Irish traditional music.
Cían Music Homepage; Mailto Tim Murray, Tel./Fax +353 51 843127
SlÓinte Mhath "Prophecy"
Label: SOCAN; 02 50598; Playing time: 41.51 min
SlÓinte Mhath were one of the great new discoveries of this year's Celtic Connections Festival. This young four-piece presents powerful Cape Breton instrumental music, with a very youthful and modern approach. "Prophecy" is already 3 years old, when the band still had an average age of only 18 years. Still it can represent today's band pretty well -although since then their step dancer, fiddler and percussionist has changed: 1996 it was Breagh MacDonald, today it is Lisa Gallant. The other guys are Boyd (Fiddle, Percussions) and Ryan (Piano, Keys) MacNeil of Cape Breton's famous musical MacNeil family, and last not least Bruce MacPhee, Small- and Highland Piper of the band. The CD has very much a live feeling, with the raw and young energy of SlÓinte Mhath in the centre. The tunes have quite always piano and pipes as centre pieces, often along with a Cape Breton Style fiddle. The percussion brings a unique power to some of the tunes - at times, it is a very rough and hard djembe, at other times, it has quite a Latin feeling. There is just one thing which I dislike of this CD - there are 89 pseudo titles on the CD making a shuffle mode very unattractive...
SlÓinte Mhath are another great Cape Breton representant, confirming the image of Cape Bretoners to create some of the most powerful music and performances in the Celtic world. Great stuff.
SlÓinte Mhath Homepage, Mailto SlÓinte Mhath
Kenna Campbell "Guth a Shnýomhas ... a voice that weaves"
Label: Macmeanmna; SKYECD 12; Playing time: 58.38 min
Gaelic singer Kenna Campbell from the Isle of Skye has been for long involved in Gaelic singing - she won already fourty years ago a Gold Medal for Gaelic Singing at the National Mod. Coming from a family renowned for their music, and especially for their knowldege and skill in mouth music, Kenna has a reall passion for the old traditional Gaelic songs. On this album, Kenna sings her own choice of songs; they are waulking songs, old Gaelic ballads or songs written by the great Gaelic bards. Many of the songs are a capella singing, just on very few songs she is joined either by her daughter Mary-Ann Kennedy on harp, Alistair MacDonald on guitar or the women singing group Bannal, which was founded by Kenna. Her singing style is quite impressive, and very traditional. I guess for me it is not a CD to listen to every day - maybe it is a bit too traditional. Still, this album offers a wealth of true Gaelic tradition and song.
Mailto Arthur Cormack at Macmeanmna, Tel.+44 1478 612990, Fax +44 1478 613263
Xosé Manuel Budiño "Paralaia"
Label: Resistencia; RESCD 066; Playing time: 40.31 min
Xosé Manuel Budiño is the new star of the Galician folk music scene. A master on the Galician Gaita, the Irish Pipes and Whistles, a talented composer of tunes in the traditional ideom, a guy with a thrilling performance. And a great live band he has, too. "Paralaia" is Xosé's debut album, and it is exactly what you would expect of him.
Although he has on this CD a band of folk music stars, this is still a pure Xosé Manuel Budiño album featuring the destinctive style of the young piper. His guest musicians include the Basque Trikitixa (Accordeon) star Kepa Junkera, the famous Breton musicians Jacky Molard (bass fiddle, guitar) and Soig Siberil (guitar), and one of Galicia's most powerful and impressive voice, Mercedes Peón being part-time member of Xosé's band. Add to this his band, with percussion, bass, bouzouki/mandola and accordeon, to get exciting modern and sometimes wild music. In most tunes, the centre piece is the light sound of the Gaita, with the band around it making it often to energetic Gaita Rock. The songs of Mercedes are stunning and full of the wild Spanish temper. To calm down, inbetween we have some beautiful quiet tunes on pipes or whistle, with just subtle backing. Most of the inventive Galician tunes are written by the master Xosé himself.
On this album, the guest stars just add their musical talent to Xosé's music, without adding too much of their destinctive style into the music. You get quite exactly what you would expect when having seen the piper with his band in live: Highest quality Galician music building powerful bridges between traditional Galician Gaita and Rock music, combined with the strong voice of one of Galicia's best Cantiga singers.
Resistencia, San Isidro Labrador 19, E-28005 Madrid, Spain; Tel.E-91-366-6723
Neil Browning "Swicsbocs"
Label: Sain Records; SCD 2211; Playing time: 48.16 min
Neil Browning is from Wales and plays the two row button accordeon (in Welsh: swicsbocs in phonetics). This album is based on the accordeon, but to make this all even more exciting, there is a cast of other instruments, including bouzouki, banjo, guitars, bass, piano, recorders, drums, occasionally electric keyboards, crumhorn and finger cymbals. All of these instruments are played by Neil himself, added by three guests on guitar, dulcimer, bodhrÓn and clarinet. Still, this remains an accordeon album. And, please note, there are no harps on this Welsh album...
All tunes on this album are traditional; most of them are Welsh, and some of them have never been recorded before. It is the hope of Neil that this album will help to establish some of these tunes for sessions. I can only agree that it would be nice to have those as session tunes, as most of them are really catchy and exciting. The album does not lack in variety; it is an enjoyable and happy mixture of Welsh tunes. Neil Browning proves with this album not only that he is an excellent accordeon player, but also a multi talent on more instruments than you can count with your fingers...
Another great album from Sain Records - the amount of internationally yet unknown talent in Wales seems to be amazing...
Sain Records; e-mail; Liandwrog, Caernarfon, GB-Gwynedd LL54 5TG, Wales.
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