Issue 19 8/2001

FolkWorld CD Reviews


Gert de Meijer "Behind the Dunes"
Label: Acoustic Music Records; 319.1214.2 42; 2000; Playing time: 39.28 min
Donegal fiddler John Doherty put it once: "The old musicians in them days would take music from anything. They would take music from the sound of the sea ..." Do you wonna know how the Netherlands sound? Dutch guitar player Gert de Meijer reveals a picturesque soundscape. The ease of summer and the tranquility of winter in Zeeland. Dreams go passing by. The waves are crashing against the dunes and the storm is rising.
Acoustic Music Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Ray Hearne "Broad Street Ballads"
Label: No Masters; NMCD17; 2001; Playing time: 58.28 min
Ray Hearne, born in Rotherham of Irish parents, tries to bring together South Yorkshire speech and Irish melody. "Broad Street Ballads" are supposed to be "songs with a meaning in the end" and "give voice to communal dreams and aspirations, to personal visions and melancholies." Ray composed lyrical ballads, some set to traditional (Irish) tunes, placed in his native countryside. He found careful and sensible help by jazz saxophonist Tim Garland, melodeon player Luke Daniels , Uilleann piper Steafan Hannigan (Sin E), bass player Martin Allcock (Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention), and vocalists Jo Freya, Barry Coope and Jim Boyes. "Never leave a single story unsung," is Ray's credo. Rother Sing a Don Song!
No Masters Co-operative Limited
Walkin' T:-)M

Shoormal "Indigo Skies"
Label: Own Label; ebb 285; 2000; Playing time: 50.34 min
Thinking about the Shetland Islands you might think of cool fiddle music and traditional Gaelic singing. Maybe Rock, Salt and Nails and Fiddler's Bid came to your attention before. But pop has even reached these remote shores. Freda Leask, Joyce McDill and Donna Smith create a fine three-part harmony. Add guitar player Trevor Smith, piano and accordion player Gregg Arthur, double bass player May Gair (who performed with the likes of Aly Bain, Willie Hunter and Violet Tulloch, Catriona MacDonald), drummer Christopher Anderson (Bongshang) and fiddler Emma Johnston (Rock Salt & Nails). That yields Shoormal's folk pop. There's nothing special indigenous about "Indigo Skies", but you can sip on your Bacardi and enjoy the summer.
Walkin' T:-)M

Magic Car "Yellow Main Sequence"
Label: Tiny Dog Records; TDR003; 2001; Playing time: 50.03 min
The yellow main sequence star tries to break through the clouds covering Northampton. Perhaps Phil Smeeton and Hazel Atkinson have a drink at their local boozer, The Star, and draw inspiration from the characters drinking their lives away. There's a lonesome country feel from Old England. It's rather rain than sun, but everyone is at ease. Certainly, Magic Car is no shooting star, but it makes the sky a little bit brighter.
Tiny Dog Records
Walkin' T:-)M

F.B.A. "Till The Sky Shall Fall"
Label: M.A.P.; CCD870; 2000; Playing time: 62.06 min
Tunes from every Celtic area you can think of: "La Jument de Mich aud", Dan ar Braz's "Greenlands", Steeleye's "All Around My Hat", jigs, reels, strathspeys, morris, a piece by John Dowland, a Galician carol. Everything's passed through the Italian grinder to give it a special flavour, that's F.B.A.. Furthermore, "The Trees They Grow High" is sung in Italian and the eight piece "folk orchestra" offers plenty of variety. There's the usual suspects plus some cello, lute, "piffero" (a shawn-type wind instrument) and "baghet" (the bagpipes of the Bergamo valleys).
Walkin' T:-)M

Silverhand "Silverhand"
Label: Laughing Raven Music; A001; 2001; Playing time: 66.49 min
Silverhand, taken their name from king Nuada of the Tuatha De Danaan, are Chris (mandolin, bouzouki, vocals) and Lisa Burbick (guitar) plus jazz musicians Doug Heydon (bass) and Mike Fitch (drums). The traditional Irish dance tunes are carefully arranged. Chris plays first-class mandolin and has a gift for catchy songs with a traditional feel (think of a kind of Jamie McMenemy with original songs). A silver hand and throat, indeed.
Laughing Raven Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Rag Foundation "South By Southwest" (EP)
Label: Ty Bach; TBCD 001; 2001; Playing time: 20.47 min
If Wales is anything, it's the best kept secret of all those Celtic countries. But there's a rich tradition of instrumental music (remember Crasdant), English and Welsh language songs (Carreg Lafar, Ysdryd Chouchen), and harpers (Robin Huw Bowen, William Taylor). Unlike the emperor who's going naked, Rag Foundation from Swansea even don't appear in rags. Traditional songs are dressed up in the latest fashion. Rag Foundation's debut "Minka" has been celebrated as groundbreaking for Welsh folk. The trio of Neil Woollard (vocals), Richard Cowell (guitar) and Kate Ronconi (fiddle, crwth) has been expanded now for the EP "South By Southwest" with a rhythm section to turn the tradition into sexy pop music. Wales must not hide in the shadows of the Celtic neighbours, there's more to discover than coal and rugged hills.
Rag Foundation
Walkin' T:-)M

Bluehorses "Dragons, Milk and Coal"
Label: Native Spirit; NSBH CD003; 1999; Playing time: 68.09 min
Mistrust the opening plucks of the Celtic harp! The Welsh dragon comes roaring and spitting fire. Bluehorses is driven by the wild electric fiddles of Liz Prendergast and Emily Grainger, backed by a tight rhythm section of drums, bass and electric guitar. "Dragons, Milk and Coal" is a bit more controlled, sophisticated and matured than their debut "Cracking Leather, Skin & Bone", but still untamed. The crashing songs let not only tap your feet, but bring the house down. Furthermore, there's an awesome reworking of the old Scottish ballad "Barbara Allen", a morris set, the passionate "Mining Song", and a "secret track" displaying a sense of humour. It's not so secret anyway, and Bluehorses should be no secret at all.
Native Spirit
Walkin' T:-)M

Wild Welsh Women "Isle of Môn"
Label: Airheart Music; A001; 2000; Playing time: 52.29 min
Wild Welsh Women are 100% Welsh, but only 50% women. It's mother and daughter Rozi Morris and Tamzin Powell, maturing their harmonies "in a way that only genetically linked voices can". Fiddler Sian Phillips, Rob Morris (accordion, guitar, mandolin), Matt Powell (guitar) and Jon Attree (bass) add to a mixture of mostly contemporary songs: "Turning Away", "Be lls of Rhymney", "Heart Like a Wheel", "Bring 'em All In" (the album's highlight), and the traditional "Bonnie Bunch of Roses". Four self-penned ballads fit in perfectly. A set of schottishes and two reels are thrown in for good measure. That's the wildest bits of the party. "Isle of Môn" is aptly named after the Isle of Anglesey situated off the Welsh coast and gives a good metaphor: "You will find beaches galore, attractions to suit everyone's tastes, places to explore, places to relax and places to fill your days with interest and knowledge."
Wild Welsh Women
Walkin' T:-)M

Dervish "Decade"
Label: Whirling Discs; WHRL 006; 2001; Playing time: 65.38 min
Is there someting left to write about Dervish? Like the whirling dancers of the East you can go wild and spin in circles till you drop. "Decade" offers a representative cross-section through, you guess it, ten years of a busy schedule (apart from the debut "Boys of Sligo" then without singer Cathy Jordan): jigs and reels and Gaelic and English ballads. Like every collection you miss something (I personally regret that "Josephine's Waltz" comes without "I Courted a Wee Girl"). So I would like to say: Forget this one and buy them all records! But it can be a good start anyway.
Whirling Discs
Walkin' T:-)M

La Lionetta "Ottoni & Settimini"
Label:Folkclub Ethnosuoni;ES5306; 2000; Playing time: min
If this album would have arrived earlier on, I am sure it would have found its way into the top of the Top 10 2000 - that impressed I am of La Lionetta. Wonderful happy innovative and open minded New Folk music, as fresh as it can come only from Italy (at least that's what it seems looking at recent European folk music releases). Founded already back in 1977, FolkWorld heard of them only with this CD - but better late than never!
Taking Northern Italian folk music as starting point, La Lionetta creates their very own blend of music styles, full of power and life. Central in the band's sound stands often the accordion, sometimes whistles, violin or Italian bagpipes. The tuba, grooving always along to the music, gives the band some of the uniqueness. Along to that all innovative percussion as well as guitar and mandolin accompaniment. And so many more instruments, to many to be listed all. Two lead singers has this six piece band, both being strong enough, and the singing style ranges from more recital like singing to chorus singing with the other lads. The material of La Lionetta is to a big extent self composed, if it is not traditional.
In live, La Lionetta must be an extraordinary experience; the power and liveliness of this band is already well kept on the CD. This is absolutely superb music of talented musicians bringing their fun of playing well into the music. I simply love this album, finding again and again and again its way into the CD player. A definite MUST.
Michael Moll

Margaret Bennett "In the sunny long ago"
Label: foot stompin records; cdfsr1708.; 2001
Margaret Bennet was born at the Isles of Skye and Lewis in a family where music was alive. She moved to New-Foundland in her twenties and stayed there for nine years also enjoying the strong folk tradition of this region. On this cd In the sunny long ago she tries to recreate these old days. The songs she used to sing with her family while working in and around the house. Some songs are well known. Bonnie bunch of thyme, for example, has been sung by many artists. Her version is sweet and fragile and sounds like a sleeping song. The Scottish traditional Ailean Ailean has a strong a-cappella version that is followed by the Aye waukin o that has been originally written by Robert Burns. In the sunny long ago is a very friendly cd that makes me listen with a smile and a bit of sadness in my heart.
foot stompin records
Eelco Schilder

Lino Straulino "I dis and Cjaule male"
Label: Nota; cd2.34 and cd 2.35.; 1998
The Italian singer/guitar player Lino Straulino has according to his manager a break in his musical career at this moment, so I got two older cd's for review: I dis and cjaule male both recorded in 1998. I dis is only Straulino singing and his guitar. A sober record with friendly sounding songs brought in a professional and sensitive way. I think these songs need a listner who understands the Italian language, I miss the capability of understanding his songs and I have the feeling that this might be a big lost for me. His other cd Cjaule male is more powerful. He starts with S'al sara , a great introduction and fine guitar sound. He got help from two extra musicians and this gives his music more body. There happens more and It keeps my attention longer than his I dis record. Two friendly cd's in the singer-songwriter style with a nice Southern touch.
Eelco Schilder

A Quadrant "No boot!"
Label: Own; 2001
Managers of concert-halls asking to hear what kind of music they play and the audience asking for cd's after their concerts, made this new Dutch group A Quadrant decide to record their first, seven songs long, cd called: No boot. Three musicians playing songs from artists such as Iain Matthews and Welch and Ferrar. They did not record this on a small attic with terrible equipment but used a studio to make sure their cd would not only have quality music but also a quality sound. And except for a bit of disturbing echo in Raider they did a good job. They managed to record seven nice songs and with respect to the originals they gave their own sound to the music. The vocals are fine although I have the feeling that in Lion and the lamb the vocalist is a bit faster than the guitar and accordion. It's the squeeeeze boxes must be southern Dutch dialect for accordionthat adds something extra to the songs. Make it more alive or gives it an extra tension as in Faithfull. A nice debut cd that is worth to listen to. Only available at the following adress:, this is also the contact for booking information.
Eelco Schilder

Vince Brophy "Stronger than you know"
Label: Own; VB29304; 2001
The fourth CD of Australian singer/songwriter Vince Brophy focusses strongly on his own compositions, telling many stories in his songs. As in his earlier albums, also on "Stronger than you know" the Australian-Irish sings a lot about emigration, as well as about coming back to Ireland. Some of the songs are very personal, like about his trip and his feelings to Ireland; these songs show partly a mystified image of his home country. The strongest are the two songs about convicts sent to Australia from Ireland, "Stronger than you know" and "Kiss the Child". Along to his own songs, Vince sings the traditional and much too often heard "Star of the County Down" in a rather lovely version and plays a set of trad tunes. As often in Irish Australian and Irish American music, there is a slight country influence in the music. The songs have usually a pleasant melody and a catchy chorus. Vince is accompanied on the album by a few very good musicians, on guitars/piano/mandolin/drums, fiddle, accordion, bass, whistles etc., yet it is always Vince Brophy with voice and guitar in the clear focus of the sound.
A pleasant CD of a singer/songwriter to look out for.
Vince Brophy's Homepage
Michael Moll

Vince Brophy offered us two CDs for a CD competition. You can win them by just telling us which CD review in this issue inspired you the most to possibly buy the CD. All entries count; one per person please. Answers until 20.11.2001 to FolkWorld.

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