Issue 13 3/2000

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Gibb Todd "Connected"
KRL/Lochshore; CDLDL 1292; 1999; Playing time: 43.00 min
Gibb Todd, the Scottish singer with powerful voice - anybody who has visited the huge Celtic Connection festival in Glasgow in January will know this man. Gibb is managing the famed festival club, and for two years now he is also the man behind the 'Danny Kyle's Open stage', started in 1998 by the late great wee Scotman Danny Kyle to give new talent the chance to play for a bigger audience. Gibb is the right man for both, and he is doing his job extremely well. Any visitor to Celtic Connections will have heard a couple of songs from the Glaswegian guy.
'Connected' - and Gibb is surely connected (with many excellent guest musicians, including John Sheahan, Tony Mc Manus, Alisdair Fraser, Simon Thoumire, Joannie Madden, John McCusker, etc.) - is his first ever solo album. Gibb is a singer with passion, he has a strong and powerful voice and he knows wich songs do fit to his singing style. The choice of songs on this album include some traditionals (Blackwaterside, Will ye no come back again,...), some songs by other songwriter and a hugely original recitation on the traditional 'Carrickfergus' against Finbar Furey's Uilleann Pipes.
Still, the highlights of the album are the two songs written by Gibb himself. 'Lonely Belnahua' tells the story of the last inhabitants of the island of Belnahua - a song with strong emotions. 'No more stravaigin' is dedicated to the late great Scottish singer Alex Campbell. Both are very strong songs - it is werth to buy the album just for these...
Christian Moll

Nolùen le Buhé "Komz a raer din"
Label: Coop Breizh; CD 891; 1999; Playing time: 49.33 min
Nolùen le Buhé is a young female singer from Brittany, Northern France. This album is simply a must for every lover of traditional Breton singing; Nolùen's album 'just' contains the female voice as instrument - but it is magic.
Erik Marchand has done the 'Direction artistique' - a strong proof for an album of highest quality. "Komz a raer din" contains twelf songs from the region of Vannes. All are in the Breton language. The themes of the songs are made in everydays life: love, marriage and everything around this themes...
Unacomanied singing can be breathtaking, this album shows it once again. And besides good music you get a well designed album with the texts in Breton and French and some informations on the themes of the songs in English language.
Coop Breizh; Contact Nolùen le Buhé: Tel/Fax: 33 (0) 298 93 57 62
Christian Moll

Cantigas de Nadal
DoFol; DF-014-CD; 1998; Playing time: 43.16 min
Christmas - not quite the right time of the year to write something about Christmas - but even in March 'Cantigas de Nadal' (that is 'carols for christmas') is an extraordinary and enjoyable album.
The album presents 11 original tracks of traditional Galician songs of the Christmas season. For this project the excellent Galician label DoFol has chosen 11 of the best groups and musicians of the current Galician scene including Berrogüetto, Leilia, Pancho Alvarez, Na Lua,... Each of them was given the task to select, arrange or compose their track.
In the booklet you can read: "With this work we wanted to give our little assitance to recover the historical-musical memory of Galician. It was actually the great richness of rites, habits, traditions and the extensive documentation existing, which was the basis for the artists to produce their songs, to which they addedmore current musical concepts. This is the reason why the carols we offer contribute to a new, more contemporary, updated and modern vision of the carols while expressing the new ideas from the artists' group, whom mostly represent the current Galician musical panorama."
So the album represents both: the old Galician Christmas traditions and music presenting the folk music scene of Galica of today, yet steeped in the tradition! All of the 11 songs are impressive; personal highlights are Pancho Alvarez's 'Aguinaldo', Leilia's 'Canto de Laxoso', Berrogüetto's Nadal de Luintra' and Maite Dono's 'Os Reis do Caurel'.
The booklet (book?!) of the album is also special - it was too big to fit into the original box, so there is a paper box which includes the origianl box and the booklet. There is lots of information given in Galician, Spanish and English.
It is maybe not the right time to review a christmas album, but anyway christmas is just around the corner again - sooner than you might think now... And yet, these great songs can be heared all year round!
So wacht out for this album now, to avoid the last-minute X-mas shopping stress!
Christian Moll

Stömp "Machine Without Horses"
Label: Working Party; WPCD 003; 1999; Playing time: 60.18 min
Often it is a problem for bands that usually play for dances, that their music might be not too appealing for just listening. Stömp are one of the positive exceptions: Their music is hugely enjoyable to listen to.
Stömp is an English Country Dance Band with a broad field of influences: from trad to rock, from England over Sweden to central Europe. The band consists of Sheena Masson (concertina, flute, whistle), Martin Appleby (e-/a-bass, cittern, dulcimer, e-guitar), Jeff Dent (e-/a-guitar, spoons), Kevin Adams (violins, viola, mandolin, mandola, e-/a-guitars) and Rob Gifford on drums. The tunes presented on 'Machine Without Horses' - Stömp's debut album - is a mixture of fresh interpretated traditional material, and newer compositions (including self written material). The music is based in the tradition, but has the right modern swing to be perfect to dance to, but also to sit and listen to the inspiring unusual interpretations.
Working Party,
Stömp's homepage
Christian Moll

Solan "Northern Shore"
Veesik Records; VKCD106; 1999; Playing time: 48.34 min
Solan is a new music trio based in Shetland. Centerpiece of the band is young Frances Wilkins playing English concertina. The other two band members are the fiddler (acoustic and electric fiddle) Chris Henderson and guitarist/singer Richard Chaff.
The band was formed in march 1999, and has now, less than one year later, published its debut album. Solan have already toured in England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. And there are more concerts to come (including tours in Germany and Denmark, and the folk festivals in Gosport/Fareham and Chester). Solan are playing traditional, contemporary and original material mainly from the British Isles. The tunes are mostly focused on the concertina, fiddle and guitar creating a fitting backing for Frances. The ballads are sung by Richard Chaff in a traditional style (who has also recorded, mixed, mastered and produced this album).
A fine debut of a new band that will surely be seen in many clubs in the near future.
Veesik Records
Christian Moll

Na Lúa "Feitizo"
DoFol; BOA 10002019; 1999; Playing time: 50.47 min
Northern Spain - and especially Galicia - bursts with traditional and folk music these days. But this has nothing to do with magic or witchcraft (Feitizo) - it is just because many young musicians have learned during the new big folk revival in northern Spain how to play music, how to present this music on stage and how to promote this music for a wider audiance.
Na Lua is an 'old established' band from Galicia. They have been around for quite a time, having been around before, but also part of the big revival.
Their music is modern and fresh with deep roots in the Galician culture. The six lads play among others the gaita (Galician bagpipe), sax, flute, accordion, guitar, bass and percussion - and of course they do sing also. On this album they have some help from guest musicians, especially diverse percussion instruments and beautiful female voices.
Their music wanders between slow melodic tunes and folk rocky ideas. It is definitely a different album to their last one, and I think it might still take some time for me to like it as much as the predecessor - but this might well happen!
Christian Moll

Tapia eta Leturia Amuriza "Bizkaiko Kopla Zaharrak"
Label: Elkarlanean; KD 540; 1999; Playing time: 41.52 min
This album is an exciting collection of ancient popular songs from the Basque country. The songs come from a song collection called 'Bizhaiko Kopla Zaharrak'(the album is called after this collection). In the late 19th and early 20th century different folklore specialist have gathered the songs, and Xabier Amuriza - writer, journalist and bertsolari (a creator and singer of Basque verses, or bertsos) - took a choice out of these for this album.
There are 9 different singers on this album, backed on several instruments (trikitixa (Basque accordion), percussion, guitars and mandolin). The interpretations and presentations of the songs are quite varied - as you would expect from so many different singers. Yet the overall sound gives the album a coherent feeling.
It's once again good to see that the work of folklore experts from long ago is used to bring new influences into today's folk scene.
Mailto Elkarlanean
Christian Moll

Elspeth Cowie "Naked Voice"
Scotfolk; SCCD1; 2000; Playing time: 46.11 min
Naked Voice - the title says it all: Elspeth Cowie, one of the best singers in Scots language, has made an album that features mainly unaccompanied singing. On just a few songs Elspeth's voice is accompanied by Ronnie Lang on guitar - just for a change.
It is nearly unbelivable that Elspeth has never recorded a solo album before - she has recorded as a member of stunning Scottish group Seannachie, as one third of the femal vocal band Chantan and on various various-artist albums (e.g. Complete Robert Burns, Ceilidh House Sessions or Music for a new Scottish Parliament) - but until now she has never recorded on her own.
For the album, it was a good decision to focus clearly on her voice - this fascinating album features a breathtaking variety of songs, showing how colourfull and varied a-capella singing can be presented.
Most of the material is traditional - there are among others excellent interpretations of 'Cruel Mither', 'The great Silkie of Sule Skerry', 'Twa Sisters', 'Green Grow the Laurel'. Additionally, there are contemporary songs, the most unusual 'folk songs' of them being the folky swinging 'Can't help Lovin' Dat Man' and ' Wonderful World' - both maybe a bit unusual but fitting very well into the whole album.
Finally two listening tips - in 'Auld Maid in the Garret' there is a verse worth to listen to carefully. And then the MacCrimmon as a great final for this album.
Great singing, good production and informative booklet - full marks for this CD.
Christian Moll

Catriona MacDonald "Bold"
Peerie Angel Productions; PAP001; 2000; Playing time: 50.57 min
"Bold" is the debut solo album (after duo albums with Ian Lowthian) of this not only bold, but also pretty and skilled young fiddle player from the Shetland Islands. It is a very strong album presenting the old & beautiful Shetland Fiddle Traditions in a fresh, yet mature way.
Catriona plays mostly tunes from the Shetland traditions, along with some great compositians of contemporary musicians like Ian Lowthian, Brian Finnegan, Phil Cunningham and last not least Catriona herself. She is supported by some of the (many) greatest musicians of the Scottish scene: David Milligan (piano - Bachue), Conrad Ivitsky (double bass - Shooglenifty), Tony McManus (guitar), James MacKintosh (percussion - Shooglenifty), Ian Lowthian (acc). The album has a lot of highlights, bursting of beauty, energy, variety. It closes with a special tune where Catriona is joined by Ivor Kleive, one of Norway's finest church organists. Written by Catriona, this tune is calles "the joy of it!" - and you can easily feel the joy and excitement of her playing throughout this "bold" album.
Released on her own new label, the album has a very high production quality as well as a professional and cool design - well done!
At the same time of the release of her new album, Catriona presented a new super group in the Main Auditorium of Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall: Called String Sisters, it features five other famous international fiddle players - amazing stuff!,; Tel./Fax +44-1273-205774
Michael Moll

Annbjørg Lien "Baba Yaga"
Grappa Musikkforlag; GRCD 4158; 1999; Playing time: 49.43 min
Probably Norway's most exciting New Folk musician, Annbjørg Lien plays the Hardangerfele, a particular Norwegian keyed fiddle with a beautiful soft sound. "Baba Yaga" is the second album of this young talent, and it is full of exciting surprises. Mostly in collaboration with producer, keyboarder and programmer Børn Ole Rasch, Annbjørg has written all tunes, getting together an unusual, highly original melange of traditional Norwegian Hardangerfele music and World Music. The beautiful compositions are sometimes combined with sound textures of World Music - only subtly and really working very well. There is some programming as well as musical company by among others Väsen's Roger Tallroth (guitars etc.), drummer Rune Arnesen and Hans Fredrik Jacobsen on flutes, bagpipe, clarinet etc. Sometimes the result is innovative and up to date, culturally open minded folk/world rock, sometimes it is still basically the old Norwegian traditions. Probably the most unusual tune of the album is "Inoque", combining Norwegian music with a positive and warm African feeling. It features the singing of children in Mozambique, recorded by Annbjørg when having been with her band Bukkene Bruse in Mozambique, they danced and sang with the local children, and "discovered that music is life itself".
"Baba Yaga" is an exceptional strong album, proving that there is a successful way to accept and integrate foreign music cultures into regional music without losing the regional identity. Recommended.
Grappa Music, Annbjørg's homepage
Michael Moll

Väsen "Gront"
Xource; XOUCD 126; 1999; Playing time: 57.07 min
A lot of Scandinavian groove, improvisation and excitement is featured on Väsen's second CD as a quartett. All four musicians of Väsen are exceptionally excellent: Mikael Marin on fiddles, Roger Tallroth on 12 string guitar, oktave mandolin and Swedish bouzouki (whatever the pecularities in a Swedish bouzouki may be!), then Olov Johansson on Sweden's national instrument, the nyckelharpa and last not least the improvising percussionist Andre Ferrari. Although all the tunes are composed by Väsen, the music has a destinctive Swedish feeling - dark, yet charming and harmonic. "Gront" is one of those CDs where you would not be able to name a particular favourite tune - it is the full album which makes out of the music a masterpiece of its very own kind.
If you now like to find out more about this cool music, or maybe even want to win one of the "Gront" CDs which FolkWorld is giving away, you should directly move on to the Väsen article in thi issue!
Xource Records,
Michael Moll

"Bretagne - Corse: Polyphonies Corses et Chants Bretons
Label: Coop Breizh; CD894; 2000; Playing time: 43.26 min
This is the first meeting of the polyphone singing of Corsica and traditional Breton singing. Both are unique forms of expressions, with a strong regional identity. The album presents 14 numbers, all original recordings, half of them from Brittany, half from Corsica. Featured is exclusively the oldest human instrument: the voice. Sometimes a capella, sometimes as duo/trio, sometimes as choir. Although there are among the performers also some well-known names like Annie Ebrel or Yann Fañch Kemener, I found this album a bit trying to listen through. Yet this is the real tradition, and it is good to see that these regions show these days a lot of cultural self confidence.
mailto Coop Breizh
Michael Moll

The Chieftains "Water from the well"
RCA Victor; CD 09026 63637 2; 2000; Playing time: 62.46 min
The Chieftains went back to their roots with this lovely album. "Water of the well" is presenting the Chieftains at their very best: with traditional Irish Music. After some albums with different themes (like female musicians, Canadaians, rock stars etc.), the theme of the new album is Ireland, representing the different regions and regioanl styles.
They have some guests on the album, and this time not the rock stars, but musicians of the crème of Irish traditional music - many of them do represent a special style of an area: The Kilfenora Ceilidh Band from County Clare, Altan from Donegal, Ciarán Ó Gealbháin (of Danu) from the Ring Gaeltacht, Janet Harbison and The Belfast Harp Orchestra from Ulster etc. Still, the music of the Chieftains is always the centerpiece of the music...
The album offers with 17 tunes and songs and more than an hour playing time loads of high class music. It is inspiring to see the Chieftains going back and producing an album without rock stars - this traditional Irish theme was long overdue for an Chieftains album.
The booklet is nicely designed, but the information about tunes, songs and guest musicians could have been a bit more satisfying - instead of the long introduction text of Maurice Linnane, Film Director. This film director is the man who has done a documentary film about the making of this album, and this documention can be seen in many countries this spring - watch out for it!!
RCA Victor
Christian Moll

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