Issue 20 12/2001

FolkWorld CD Reviews



Lynn Morrison "Cave of Gold"
Label: Greentrax; CDTRAX 212; 2001; Playing time: 64.20 min
Sixty minutes to fall asleep (if you need that long). That's an unfair comparison, you complain. No, that's what is meant to be. When Scottish singer Lynn Morrison left Scottish folk rockers Iron Horse to devote her time to motherhood she soon found out that though I'd been singing traditional music for years, I didn't know many of the old lullabies at all ... I soon discovered that they had been one of the main musical strands in celtic culture. The flowing sound is beautifully produced by Marc Duff (whistles) of Capercaillie and Canterach fame, Gregor Lowrey (accordion) of Cantyshiels and Ceilidh Minogue, Catriona McKay (clarsach) of Fiddlers' Bid, Rod Paul (mandolin, guitar) of Iron Horse, Fraser Fifield (bagpipes) of Old Blind Dogs, and Wendy Weatherby (cello). It's no new age stuff, just an endless stream of unpretentious music. The main purpose is sleep. Anyway for kids or the sleepless urban population. So good night!
Walkin' T:-)M

Kate Rusby "Little Lights"
Label: Pure Records; PRCD07; 2001; Playing time: 52.25 min
Yorkshire singer/songwriter Kate Rusby, the sweetheart of English folk song, has been a shooting star. She's made a name with The Equation, Kathryn Roberts, and The Poozies, stormed the folk charts with two top selling albums, and become familiar on the live circuit (see FolkWorld review). The star might have become a bit dim, but there's still some Little Lights shining. Kate's stunning vocals dive deep in a sea of tranquility, sometimes swinging and waltzing, sometimes lulling into sleep. But this angel sings devilish stories. And when a father stabs his daughter's lover, it won't rock your children easily into sleep. "Matt Hyland" got a new tune. "Who will sing me lullabies" is dedicated for the late Davy Steele. Kate's own songs fit in very well with the traditional material. No big wonder, her band and some further help are about to impress. There's accordionists Andy Cutting (Blowzabella, Fernhill, Two Duo's Quartet) and Mairtin O'Connor, guitarists Ian Carr (Swåp & Two Duo's Quartet) and John Doyle (Solas, Eileen Ivers Band), Malcolm Stitt on bouzouki and Tim O'Brien on mandolin, flutist Michael McGoldrick (Toss the Feathers, Afro Celt Sound System, Flook!, Lunasa, Capercaillie). Last but not least, fiddle maestro John McCusker (Battlefield Band), centre of both Kate's music and heart. There'll be instruments of music for to make the valleys sing. Let it be so.
Kate Rusby / Pure Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Bruce MacGregor "101 Reasons To Do Nothing"
Label: Macmeanmna; SKYECD17; 2001; Playing time: 56.08 min
Scottish fiddler Bruce MacGregor is already well-known, being founder of Blazin' Fiddles (see FW#15) and member of Cliar (see FolkWorld review). His debut solo recording almost exclusively features original pieces and those of his late fiddle teacher Donald Riddell. Bruce is joined by guitarist Jonnie Hardie (Old Blind Dogs), accordionist Phil Cunningham, piper Finlay MacDonald, and Cliar's singers Ingrid Henderson, Mary Ann Kennedy, and Maggie MacDonald. Bruce's music is sensitive and graceful. Some of the most versatile coming from Scotland in recent times. There might be 101 reasons to do nothing, but at least one to give it a try.
Walkin' T:-)M

M.E.Z. "The Fairies"
Label: Own Label; 2000; Playing time: 62.58 min
Of course, the Celts had been in (what's now) Hungary. Some time ago. Celtic people occupied the Pannonian lands in the 3rd century BC, but were conquered by the Romans. Then followed by Huns, Goths, Lombards, Avars, and finally Magyar tribes. So here we are. Celtic tunes and singsong hadn't been heard here until Irish music swept over Europe and reached even the remotest corner of the continent. M.E.Z. are reputedly the first performers of traditional Irish and Scottish music in Hungary. It's a strange mix of sometimes Eastern flavoured tunes, pub singalongs, ballads up to folk rock. The familiar set dance "King of the Fairies" is deconstructed and transforms into an oriental percussion/flute piece. "The Fairy King" resembles a whirling dervish. "Taste the Fairy" is the same tune as "The Trooper and the Maid" with Jethro Tullish-like reminiscenses. The rest is folk business as usual: Donegal Danny, Dicey Reilly and the Blacksmith rove out by the rising of the moon and say farewell to Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Full Moon Ensemble "Through Lands and Waters Wide"
Label: Own Label; 2001; Playing time: 62.41 min
The Full Moon Ensemble from Alabama (not to confuse with the German Full Moon Trio) sticks into Celtic music as it came across the Great Western Ocean from Ireland and Britain and developed into old time music in the mountains of Appalachia. Daniel Carwile plays a fine fiddle and gives us a selection of jigs & reels against guitar, bass and percussion. Allison King leads on vocals on the classic traditionals "Lakes of Pontchartrain" and "Do You Love an Apple?", but also some contemporary stuff from the band members backgrounds. The group's name leaves a very poetical impression. But it's certainly a gigging band, not a bunch of cowboys delivering ditties around the campfire when the coyotes are howling and a full moon is shining through the clouds.
The Full Moon Ensemble
Walkin' T:-)M

Cormac Breatnach & Martin Dunlea "Music for Whistle & Guitar"
Label: Dioscai Mandala/Pressure; CD002; 2000; Playing time: 50.34 min
The recording is as basic as its title. Just two plain instruments, that's everything you need sometimes. Cormac Breatnach of Deiseal fame and yet another solo album (see FolkWorld review) plays the whistle from the tin to the low. Cormac's "wild days" are over, or at least put aside for a while, and he delivers an imaginative soundscape. My visual interpretation of our music would be in the form of me driving a car, along some flatland, out in the wilderness, the sun shining through those amazing cloudscapes. The musical texture is light und relaxed, but exciting enough not to end as background noise in an elevator or a restaurant. A bit jazz here and there creates good effects. We play traditional music, but wether we play music traditionally, is for other people to decide. Listen to the deconstruction of the patriotic Irish ballads "The Foggy Dew" and "Down by the Glenside" or Percy French's "Eileen Oge". Even tradition has to be able to grow and evolve, otherwise it belongs solely to an irrelevant and elitist group, and a bygone time. Martin Dunlea enhances Cormac's adventurous flute playing with sensitive guitar accompaniment. I think, what Hayes & Cahill did for the fiddle, Cormac and Martin have started for the whistle.
Cormac Breatnach, Martin Dunlea
Walkin' T:-)M

Canterach "Canterach"
Label: Lochshore ; CDLD1303; 2001; Playing time: 47.48 min
Canterach has been a Scottish project band around the singer Ross Kennedy for quite a time. So you could find some music of them on Lochshore's 'Live at the Lemon Tree' album, some time ago you could see them on tour in Germany. But this album still is their debut album. Canterach features five of the (many) best musicians from Scotland: Ross Kennedy on guitar and vocals is renowned for his strong presentation of Scottish songs in wonderful broad Scots dialect; Iain MacInnes plays his highland and small pipes and whistle also in legendary Ossian; Rod Paul on mandolin, electric guitar and banjo has made his fame in the early years of The Iron Horse; Steve Lawrence is one of the most skilled multi-instrumentalists of Scotland and is without doubt one of the very best percussionists on the Scottish scene; finally Alistair McCulloch is a young talented fiddler. Among the guests, ex-Canterach member Angus Lyon in particular makes a remarkable contribution on keyboards - as long as it is piano style, it is wonderful, while the sphere keybords are at times a bit disturbing.
Featuring 5 songs and 6 sets of tunes, this is a good album, yet it is nothing special, nothing really new. I would have maybe expected a bit more of such a huge bunch of talent.
Michael Moll

Trio Trad "Musiques d'Europe"
Label: Wildboar Music/Alea; WBM21026; 2001; Playing time: 63.43 min
Trio Trad is a Belgian band dedicated to traditional music from all over Europe. With violin (Aurélie Dorzée), a second violin and at times bagpipes (Luc Pilartz) and a diatonic accordeon (Didier Laloy), Trio Trad explores the wealth of music traditions, travelling on this CD from Sweden and its slow and beautiful tunes to the lively temper of Eastern Europe (Transylvania, Serbia, Hungary etc.), from Ireland via Shetland (a lovely slow Tom Anderson tune) to Italy. They stop over on their own doorstep with some of their self-penned tunes, and make even a short visit to Johann Sebastian Bach (playing his Canon). On all their stop-overs they manage to capture the essence of the regional folk music traditions - which is a rather remarkable and shows a lot of talent and knowledge of the traditions.
This is quite an inspiring CD, although at times the line-up of two fiddles and an accordeon would have done well with the addition of a rhythm instrument like a guitar to add a bit more spice to the music.
Band Homepage: ,Contact e-mail:
Michael Moll

Jowan Merck "Amorroma - op voyage"
Label: Wildboar Music/Alea; WBM21025; 2001; Playing time: 63.19 min
Jowan Merck is another Belgian taking the pan-european road of folk music, and inviting his listeners to join him on this journey. Being a session musician in demand, this album is his first very own venture, yet he is joined by plenty of his musical friends (many of them well-known on the Belgian scene). Jowan plays recorders, wood and penny whistles, diverse bagpipes including the gaita, and percussion. On the album he is joined by instruments such as guitars, accordeon, harp, hurdy gurdy, fiddle etc. Yet it is always his instruments, especially his whistles, that the music is focussed on. At times, he joins himself on a second instrument (the wonders of recording technology...). All the tunes on this album are composed by Jowan, inspired by his journeys and musical friends throughout Europe. You can hear Galicia in the music, Ireland, France, Bulgaria, maybe even Belgium. It is quite a joy to listen, and for any flute/whistle enthusiat this CD is probably a must.
Michael Moll

Label: Caprice Records; CAP21648; 2001; Playing time: 60.57 min
Draupner is a young trio from Hälsingland in Northern Sweden, focussing also musically on this region. As often in Swedish music, the central instrument of Draupner is the fiddle: The line-up features two fiddlers (Henning Andersson and Görgen Antonsson) and a guitarist/mandolist (Tomas Lindberg). It is quite obviously that you have to love fiddle music to fully enjoy this album.
We hear on Draupner's debut CD mainly polskas, they are either traditional, written by well-known Swedish fiddlers or written by band members. The music has always the thoughtful, calm and a bit dark atmosphere that is so typical for Swedish music. Draupner's skillful and intimate playing has even attracted the highest ranks of Sweden: In autumn 1998, Draupner were invited to play polskas for the Swedish King and Queen at the opening of the Swedish parliament.
E-mail Caprice Records: , distribution: CDA,
Michael Moll

Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis "Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 1"
Label: Culburnie (Greentrax); CUL118D; 2001; Playing time: 59.50 min
The collaboration of fiddler Alasdair Fraser and pianist Paul Machlis is one of pure beauty and passion. Alasdair is probably the finest Scottish fiddler of today, and there seems to be no more appropriate, more perfect instrument to contribute to his fiddling than a piano - at least if it is played by a real master such as Paul Machlis. Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis have played together since the early eighties; their playing together is highly imaginative, very intimate and exact.
This recording, the first of a series, features classic tunes from13 of Scotland's finest composers of the past (such as Niel Gow, Captain Simon Fraser or James Scott Skinner), added by a few traditional tunes. Most of the tunes are quiet and calm, full of peaceful beauty. All tunes are perfectly presented, with a lot of feeling and skill. I really did enjoy this album.
Alasdair Fraser's Website:
Michael Moll

The kitchen girls "In your dreams"
Label: Own; kg002; 2001; Playing time: 62.17 min
The kitchen girls are six women from the UK who play American folkmusic on string instruments. Main ingredients for this kitchen recipe are: four violins, one cello, one acoustic guitar and five voices. For the first course called Benton's dream we mix the strings lightly and make sure that the violins make us feel comfortable and happy. Once are settled we enjoy Sandy river belle that gives us time to relax and enjoy with our eyes closed, such a delicate taste with just a wee-bit of cello to finish it off. To make a bit room for the main courses the band comes in and starts playing the I'm walking song. The voices sound like they have been recorded in the forties record and sound very nostalgic. Than the cook called for the main courses and the table got filled with nine other nice tunes. Friendly jig's like Moulton jig light salted ballads like wildflowers and a bit sweet tasting waltz called Ook pik waltz What a delightful meal these kitchen girls cooked for us.
Band Homepage:
Eelco Schilder

Jean Baron and Christian Anneix "Dansou tro breiz"
Label: Keltia; m312; 2001; Playing time: 52.57 min
Jean Baron and Christian Anneix recorded a new Breiz cd called Dansou tro breiz. Music for bombarde and biniou koz, a beautiful bagpipe. Both musicians are master on their instruments and that can be heard on this strong traditional cd. The tunes all come from Bretagne and a small map in the booklet shows from which area in Bretagne the tunes originally come from. The booklet shows a lot more than this. Besides information about each tune it also tells you how to dance on the music they play. Unfortunately there is not any English translation so you must be able to read French or take a very good look at the drawings. This cd is recommended to everybody who likes the sound of bombarde and the biniou koz.
Eelco Schilder

ize "Double nationalite"
Label: Lusafrica; 362223; 2000; Playing time: 55.39 min
Ize comes from the Cape-verde and lives in France at this moment. His cd Double nationalite is a mix of the two languages and cultures. He tries to mix rap music with the traditional Sodade that is so typical for the Cape-verde. The sound of the album is relaxed and the sound mostly reminds me of France. Only songs like Double nacionalidade and L'escale interlude have a strong Cape-verde sound. The other songs have a touch of this beautiful culture but seem to be more influenced by the French rap music. I like the two extra hiphop remixes of the songs Ma volonte and Ferro gaita they have a bit more power than the other songs and are a welcome variation. Overall Ize created a balanced and strong cd. Well-produced and made with care.
Eelco Schilder

Ar Log "Ar Log I- III"
Sain; SCD 2303; 2001 (1976-1981); Playing time: 73.08 min
Welsh folk music is probably the least well-known of the Celtic traditions these days, undeservedly so. Ar Log is one of the most enduring exponents of the genre, having celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2001. A welcome opportunity to make some of the back catalogue widely available once more by way of this 21-track compilation CD from their first three albums.
Ar Log then consisted of the brothers Dafydd und Gwyndaf Roberts (playing clarsach, triple harp, knee-harp, flutes/whistles and banjo between them) with a singer-guitarist (initially Dave Burns, later Geraint Glynne Davies) and fiddler (initially Iolo Jones, later Graham Pritchard), one of whom frequently switches to the mandolin as well. They play a mix of carefully arranged Welsh songs and tunes which are a joy to listen to and make great background music as well. It's astonishing that they aren't more widely popular. An essential purchase, not just but especially for harp fans.
Ar Log discography
Anja Beinroth

Jeff Talmadge "Bad Tattoo"
Label: Bozart Records; 1004; 2001; Playing time: 44.24 min
Jeff Talmadge is a relatively low-voiced Texan singer-songwriter who names Townes Van Zandt and John Stewart as his main influences. This is his third recording. He is backed by up to six musicians, on backing vocals, additional guitars (including slide), bass, percussion (but never drum kit), and occasional harmonica, violin and accordion. As this suggests, the album has a strongly acoustic feel throughout. The songs are interesting and well-written. A much-better-than-average recording in the extensive American singer-songwriter genre. Check out the three wav-files on his homepage!
Jeff Talmadge website
Anja Beinroth

Coope Boyes & Simpson with Wak Maar Proper"Christmas Truce / Kerstbestand"
Label: No Masters; NMCD 14; 1999; Playing time: 60.23 min
English a capella trio Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson should need no introduction; they teamed up with the up to 60-strong Flemish choir Wak Maar Proper ("damp but clean", after their rehearsal room) for a series of Peace Concerts in Flanders in 1998 and 1999, which are documented in these fine live recordings of carols and songs inspired by the temporary truce in trenches on the Western Front during Christmas 1914 (World War One). The carefully compiled booklet (in English and Flemish) explains the historical background and the origins of the songs.
Christmas music of a different kind, and highly recommended. The singing is wonderful, making the album a must-buy for anyone who has ever sung in a choir or likes listening to them.
More info, Tel. +44 1709 375063; Fax +44 1709 327164
Anja Beinroth

Francis & the Bacon Boys "Bringing Home the Bacon"
Label: Combi Sound; CSCD 4541.2; 2000; Playing time: 49.16 min
Belfast-born singer-guitarist Francis McCreesh is based in Denmark, and his Bacon Boys are Arne Keller on fiddle and banjo, Lars Kirkegaard on accordion and a rhythm section of stand-up bass (Jens Holgersen) and drums (Esben Munch Laursen). If you can imagine a cross between early Toss the Feathers (McCreesh's singing strongly reminds me of Eddie Sheehan's), The Saw Doctors, Goats Don't Shave and MaCavity's Cat (for the faster, country-tinged numbers), you're getting a fairly good idea of what they sound like.
The album includes a number of Irish Pub circuit standards - covers of "Caledonia", "The Town I Loved So Well", "Bad Moon Rising" and, oh horror, a Danish-language "Wild Rover" - alongside a couple of McCreesh originals and tune sets. The playing is tight and competent, except for the clomping tune set "Sorte Kasper / Cat's Branle", where Keller switches to bagpipes and guitar, Kirkegaard to electric bass - a mistake!
The cover picture apparently shows a beached whale - I wonder what they're trying to tell us there?
More info
Anja Beinroth

More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5
More German CD Reviews:
Page 1 - Page 2
CD Review Contents

To the content of FolkWorld online magazine Nr. 20

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2001

All material published in FolkWorld is © The Author via FolkWorld. Storage for private use is allowed and welcome. Reviews and extracts of up to 200 words may be freely quoted and reproduced, if source and author are acknowledged. For any other reproduction please ask the Editors for permission.

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Home
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld