Issue 24 12/2002
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Capercaillie "Live In Concert"
Label: Survival Records; SURCD 027; 2002
In which the latest version of the line-up parade their distinctive chops in
front of an appreciative home crowd at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, recorded
during the Celtic Connections festival earlier this year (2002). Amongst the
fourteen tracks on offer here are favourites like Crime of Passion, Coisich
A Ruin, Nil Si I Ngra and The Miracle of Being, a couple of robust tune sets
and the usual sprinkling of trad arr's and band compositions. Since this recording
features both percussionists some of the arrangements are naturally bottom heavy,
but on the plus side this brings out the natural swing the band have always
had and allows Donald Shaw and Mike McGoldrick freedom to play tunes without
having to worry about the rhythm so much. On top of all this, of course, sits
the majestic voice of Karen Mathieson, still sounding more at home here than
on her recent solo outings. Not an essential purchase by any means, but I suspect
fans will buy it anyway and anyone will find much to enjoy in this display of
a band at the height of its powers.
James Keelaghan "Home"
Label: Appleseed Recordings; APR CD 1059
Pete Seeger and Jim Musselman's Appleseed label continues to grow and have now
acquired the talents of Canadian singer/songwriter 'Kilo' Keelaghan, whose last
three albums were released by Green Linnet. There's no great change in formula
here, Keelaghan's warm rich tenor accompanied by his own guitar and tasteful
additions from producer Oliver Schroer on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and trumpet,
and Loreena McKennit band member Hugh McMillan on bass, pedal steel and electric
guitars. Its hard to se how, without extensive touring, Keelaghan's ever going
to become more than a fringe figure here in Euriope, but he plays to audiences
of thousands in his homeland, and listening to this it's easy to see why. A
VA "Going Driftless - A Tribute to Greg Brown"
Label: Red House Recordings; RHR CD 145
Minnesota label Red House would not exist without Iowa native Greg Brown, as
it was originally formed by Brown to release his own music. When Brown moved
to Minnesota to take up a residency on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion
radio show, he passed the label over to his friend Bob Feldman, who runs it
still. The profile Brown gained on this radio show meant that he became a household
name in many parts of the USA, and this tribute reflects the esteem in which
he is held by many of his peers. To the best of my knowledge Brown has never
toured outside the US so is known here not only by reputation, but also by the
number of artists who do make it here and bring some of Brown's songs with them.
All the performers here are women, who have chosen their favourite Brown songs
to include on this compilation whose royalties all go to the American Breast
Cancer Foundation. The artists featured read like a who's who of the US singer/songwriter
scene and include Lucinda Williams, Iris DeMent, Gillian Welch, Lucy Kaplansky,
Eliza Gilkyson, Ani Di Franco, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin and Brown's
daughters Zoë and Constance. There is no doubt that Brown is a composer of imaginative
and haunting songs, and as I find his own slightly nasal delivery tiresome,
a compilation like this is a welcome addition to my collection. Add in the warm
glow of donating money to a worthy cause, and this becomes a must listen for
those at all interested in the songwriters art.
Label: Universal Records; 440 018 071-2
In which our favourite Leeds/Bradford based agit-prop outfit continue their
debate with the establishment, combining their own radical lyrics and modern
instrumentation with samples taken from the likes of Jock Purdon, Belle Stewart,
Dick Gaughan and Kate Rusby. Deceptively easy to listen to and beautifully produced,
it isn't until you read the lyrics (on the web site chumba.com) or listen closely
that you realise this isn't pop music after all. Whether it should be reviewed
for a folk magazine is a moot point (though all the samples are folk-based),
but as the quote on the sleeve says "All music is folk music, I ain't never
heard no horse sing a song". The Chumbies have been doing their stuff for some
time now, and they are very good at it - this is a well-produced, fun, entertaining
album that also has the ability to make you think a little. What more do you
Saffron Summerfield "The Stonemason's Dream"
Label: Mother Earth Music; MUM 2002
Those with long memories or vintage LP collections will remember Saffron from
the early Bungies folk cellar days, when she played alongside the likes of Bert
Jansch, Jo-Anne Kelly and Sandy Denny, or from her days as vocalist in the band
Trader Horne, where she replaced original Fairport singer Judy Dyble in 1972.
Since then Saffron has made albums for a number of small labels until she formed
her own Mother Earth music label. This new record is mostly made up of Summerfield's
original compositions with one traditional song 'The Leaving Of Liverpool' and
a treatment of the air 'On Raglan Road' written by Patrick Cavanagh. The standard
of the material is good, though Summerfield's vocal delivery is an acquired
taste, and some of the playing, notably Chris Evans' melodeon and Tanera Dawkins'
cello, is excellent. Not something you're likely to come across on your local
radio station or record store, but it certainly qualifies for the label of 'hidden
Kirsty McGee "Honeysuckle"
Label: Fellside Records; FECD 170
Well blow me down with a feather! I had to look twice to be sure this album
was actually on Fellside, as it sounds little like anything else they've done.
Kirsty McGee won the North-West Songwriting competition in 2000, hardly an earth-shattering
event, and according to the blurb accompanying this CD 'has appeared at Brampton
Live Festival where Maddy Prior introduced her as 'one of this years' most exciting
talents'. If Maddy actually said this then she obviously needs to get out more,
as excitement is one thing missing from this album. A fairly stellar cast of
musicians (Clive Gregson, Boo Hewardine, Neill MacColl) play a bunch of very
ordinary songs at a low-key pace in order to try to highlight what, despite
the production credits of John Wood and Clive Gregson, comes across as a weak
and fairly ordinary voice. Maybe I'm missing something, but if so I have no
idea what it might be. Maybe she comes across like Mick Jagger live, but this
CD is insipid stuff. Avoid.
And did those feet "Hymn for a glad Tomorrow"
Label: Osmosys Records; CD017
On the inside cover of the Portsmouth Sinfonia album 'Live at the Albert Hall'
(yes, the one with Eno and Gavin Bryars on it) there's a picture of a gentleman
chewing the end of his violin. That is Richard Ellin, and 'And Did Those Feet'
is his latest creation. Ellin wrote most of the music on this CD and performs
(on guitar these days, though still self-taught) on about half the tracks. Other
musicians include David Bird and Richard Lacy (from the band Edenbridge) on
guitar/cittern and keyboards respectively, Harvey Summers on keyboards and throughout,
the voice of Ina Williams, a multiple National Eisteddfod winning singer who
possesses a sweet and plaintive voice with a distinctly classical edge. Ellin
lives in rural Wales now, and the compositions reflect the pastoral quietude
and closeness to nature found in such locations. As Ellin also owns Osmosys,
this is as close as you'll get to musical vanity publishing, but having said
that there's also much to admire here. Available via Koch Distribution or from
Richard direct on 0044 (0)1559 363861.
Broderick "Cortanze Castle"
Label: Offspring Records; OFFCD00108
This is the second album for Luke Danielsı five-piece Broderick, and oddly for
current folk tastes it's a concept album. Having listened all the way through
I'm not sure what the concept is, but thatıs what it says here on the sleeve!
Anyway, as you would expect from Maestro Daniels plenty of fine playing here
on a mixture of self composed and collected tunes, plus a song or two from Luke
Daniels to break up the mood. Vocals are not really his strength, so you may
find yourself skipping over these tracks, though it has to be said that producer
Steafan Hannigan has sensibly kept Daniels' voice well back in the mix. The
twin fiddles of Colm Murphy and Clare Garrard are not really given their head
on this record, but the whole does enough to suggest that the band may well
be excellent live. One to watch.
Continental Drifters "Listen"
rose; dp0265; 2001; Playing time: 28.00 min
The New-Orleans formation Continental drifter focuses on English folkrock with
a nice US touch. Their latest CD is called Listen listen and contains all kind
of songs once sung by Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson. Included are traditionals
like Matty grooves but also Sandy Denny classic songs like I'm a dreamer and
listen listen. And on top of this all the band brings three Richard Thompson
classic songs like I want to see the bright lights tonight and the poor ditching
boy. The band took a big risk by recording these songs. The original artists
did them in such a strong and legendary way that it's almost impossible to even
come close to these first versions. I appreciate it that Continental drifters
didn't try to copy the songs but played them in their own style. I do have the
same problem with this album that I also have with their previous recordings,
the quality of sound. The instruments seem to take different directions now
and then and the overall sound is a bit messy. But than, maybe this is the sound
that is typical for the Continental drifters and I'm just to stupid to understand
Tim Dennehy "The blue green door"
003; 2002; Playing time: 60.18 min
The Irish Tim Dennehy just released his fourth album. Supported by musicians
on cello, whistle, viola etc Tim Dennehy brings a selection of traditional and
original songs. The songs have a personal touch and tell about love, old poems
or have a political undertone. The most lyrics date from the 19th century and
give a nice view upon live during this century. Dennehy is a singer-songwriter
in a traditional way. His voice is strong and he reminds me often of the old
recordings from the fifties and sixties. He is a storyteller and knows how to
entertain his audience. The blue green door shows that Tim Dennehy is indeed
one of Ireland finest traditional singers.
Napoli mandolinorchestra "Serenata luntana"
8055; 2002; Playing time: 39.49 min
Well, Naples and the mandolin are two things that certainly are made for each
other. It's very standard to say so but it's a historical fact. This is the
latest cd by the mandolin orchestra. They bring all kind of Italian tunes. Unfortunately
this orchestra decided to record a kind of tourist cd. Hit's like Funiculi funicula,
O sole mio and many other known melodies are the main ingredient of this cd.
WHY???????? Here you have a fantastic orchestra, one of the best labels world-wide
and they record such songs that have been recorded a million times. Not that
it's done in a bad way, no this orchestra is fantastic but they forget to use
their possibilities. Why not have more guts and experiment, teach us unknown
treasures from the rich Napoli music history. A missed chance this serenata
luntana but on the other hand, people who just visited Naples will probably
love this cd.
Tiny Tones "Precious"
This cd has been recorded in a wooden house. That means there is zero fake.
Well, that is interesting information. The debut cd from Tiny tones is accompanied
by a promo-paper which tells us how different, unique and adventures this group
is. The problem is that when you write this you at least should deliver the
best cd yet to meet with the great expectations you create. The music the group
brings is a mixture of American roots, Cajun, bluegrass rock n'roll and other
styles. It reminds me a bit of the Johny Dowd albums which I happen to love.
It's pure and honest music and sometimes the group convinces me that their promo-paper
was telling the truth. I love their version of Sylvie. Sober instrumentation
and powerful vocals make this song one of the best on this album. This group
from Finland impresses me a little bit with their debut cd. I won't call it
the best album of the year but definitely one of the nicest debut albums I heard
in 2002. I hope tiny tones will manage to get a bit more raw in future. Sometimes
they have to much respect for a classic song and they forget to put something
of their own style in it.
Women in docs "womenindocs.com"
label; 002; 2000; Playing time: 20.15 min
The Australian band Women in Docs bring nice folky music with just a touch of
rock music. Central in this group are the female vocalists Chanel Lucas and
Roz Pappalardo. They are backed by musicians playing violin, percussion, accordion
and other instruments. The cd has a very open atmosphere and the songs could
be described as "feel-good" music. The six self-written songs are of a more
than acceptable level. Although the arrangements are a bit simple now and then,
this cd has strong vocals and the musicians give extra power to the songs. This
cd is a nice introduction to the music of Womenindocs. Not a big surprise but
well-done, friendly music. womenindocs is a group with possibilities.
Xenos "Tutti frutti"
label; 3335; 2001; Playing time: 59.48 min
My first reaction when I saw this cd was a big smile. This couldn't be a Dutch
group because they would never call themselves Xenos. This because this is a
big chain of shops in Holland. The only thing this shop has in common with this
music group Xenos is that their both a bit exotic. Although the group is based
in Australia, they bring tunes from the Balkan countries. Some known songs like
Tutti frutti but most of the tunes are relatively unknown. The vocals are done
by the twin sisters Anne and Lee and are of a surprisingly high level. It's
like I'm listening to an authentic Romanian or Macedonian band. They are backed
by a great band including Gaida, percussion, saxophone, electric guitar and
many other instruments. When I listen to a song like Sadila ganka I love the
sound of the Gaida which seems to have a conversation with the vocals of Lee
Hildyard. Xenos managed to record a convincing cd with strong vocals and energetic
music. I still do not believe that their from Australia. The vocals are just
to authentic and the musicians seem to know what their doing. The best Balkan
cd from outside the Balkan I can think of!
Countrypolitans "Face my hometown"
Countrypolitans is a US band playing nice country-pop music. They released their
first album in 1999 and this is their first album on the Sideburn label. The
group has been touring through Europe and played together with legendary names
such as Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Central in their music is the friendly,
relaxed vocals of Elisabeth Arnes. The cd contains eleven soft country-pop songs
that are very accessible. Listen to a song like Kind of funny. This song shows
the overall sound of the cd. Strong, well-produced without loosing it's soul.
Fine musicians and a very warm voice to listen to. Pleasant cd this Face of
my hometown. Not on a special high level but just solid, nice country pop. Which
I enjoy a lot on these moments that I want peace and quite or when I'm reading
a nice book.
Two tall women "Out of the woods"
records; 105; 2002; Playing time: 41.32 min
The Canadian duo Two tall women recorded on their latest cd Out of the woods
10 nice and intimate songs. Besides traditionals they sing the famous Richard
Thompson song Crazy man Michael in quit a nice way. The overall sound of this
cd reminds me a lot of the psycho-folk records which were issued a lot during
the early 1970's. Nice, casual vocals which sometimes are on the edge of being
out of tune. Flutes, percussion and occasionally some small pipes and violin.
I like this cd because it has such a pure and unforced atmosphere. The instruments
don't always match but that is absolutely no problem because it fits to the
music and the feeling these Tall women give to their music. Nice cd which I
enjoy but people who are more into smooth, no-risk traditional music should
buy the latest Enya album. But if you like traditionals with a light psycho
touch. Played with passion and pleasure, this is your cd.
Richard Shulman "Camelot reawakened"
music; 0218; 2002; Playing time: 49.12 min
Richard Shulman is a pianist and he wrote this classical-traditional piece of
music. According to the booklet this cd contains a musical soul portrait about
the sword of Camelot. For a few years this sword came back to him in all kind
of ways, he started collecting the melodies he composed in relation to this
sword. Now this cd is released and it's almost 50 minutes of classical music
with a lot of traditional Irish and English influences. It must be a very personal
piece of art, if I understand the booklet text in the right way. Maybe a bit
to personal because the cd does not get my attention for more than a few moments.
Long. moody, new-age kind of music with choir, orchestra and just too much piano
for me. For 50 minutes I'm waiting for something that just doesn't come. It's
to sweet, as if the composer wanted to create something that is almost too beautiful
to be true. The melody has a lack of variation and sounds almost sacred. There
are probably a lot of people who will enjoy this work of art but for me personal
this is just to much of somebody else his dream.
The reel and soul association "Same"
sparks; 065; 2002; Playing time: 39.26 min
The reel and soul association is a project which involved a few of folk's best
musicians. Included are John Kirkpatrick, Maartin Allock, Michael McGoldrick
and Kellie While. This album should make a connection between UK folk music
and US soul music. The songs recorded are songs like; Ain't no sunshine, warm
and tender love and other soul classics. It's remarkable how this association
manages to make these soul songs sound like old classic folksongs. This album
is of a high quality, well produced and the musicians seem to have worked on
this project with great inspiration. Kellie's vocals are pleasant and warm,
McGoldrick his flute sounds perfect and the same could be said of the other
musicians. I enjoy this "Folk" record a lot. The cd has a very open character
and has the potential to be loved by a big audience. A safe buy for just everybody
who enjoys folk influenced pop music but also for people who love soul. Come
and hear how these classic songs are interpreted by a representation of the
UK folk scene.
Josh Lederman y los diablos "it's a long and
lonely time until the train will bring you home"
miles; 041; 2001; Playing time: 51.16 min
Josh Lederman started to play music just to meet women. Well, that's a good
reason and lets hope women like his English orientated folksongs. According
to the promo information Josh Lederman is a mixture between the Pogues and an
early Tom Waits. I do hear some Pogues influences in his work. But his songs
don't even come close to the passion a group like the Pogues put in their music.
A good example is the song Winter hill which just sound like a Pogues imitation.
all the songs are easy going and never get on a higher level than "nice". It's
to much trying to copy a genre that is copied by so many other bands. Sure it's
done with pleasure but it just hasn't enough own identity to get really interesting.
Not a bad cd, just one with music that I've heard before.
Tien schweiz express "same"
07243 812843; 2002; Playing time: 68.30 min
This cd is a registration of a concert with artists from Switzerland, Mongolia,
Khakassia and Kyrgyzstan. It's a nice document which shows the music of these
different cultures. I'm a big Egschiglen fan (from Mongolia) and their last
studio album is one of the best Mongolian records ever. It's nice to hear on
this cd that also in concert this group knows how to convince me. The Swiss
part of the cd contains some interesting technical vocal music. I prefer a song
like Preiere before the Yodelling songs. Although the hardcore version of Min
vatter isch en appezoller is much to short and terribly funny. Unfortunately
only the last two songs the groups sing together. They mix their techniques
and traditions in a nice way. Here you can hear that music has no limits and
can be understand everywhere on this world. Nice cd white a few great songs
but most of all songs that put a smile on my face and make me feel relaxed.
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