FolkWorld Issue 32 12/2006

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Finis Terrae "El canto de la mulata rusa"
Sonifolk; 20187; 2005
Finis Terrae started rather strangely a decade ago, when an advert in a Spanish newspaper was looking for a cellist to accompany a singer-songwriter. What came together was a violinist, a cellist and double bass player. Since then the line-up changed several times. The band is based in Spain, toured the country as well as Britain and the US, its six members come from different countries and different musical genres: Hamish Binns from Britain (vocals, bagpipes, whistles, charango, tiple), Homero Villagra from Chile (vocals, guitar, cuatro, charango, tiple), Germán Ojeda from Argentina (violin), Bistra Cristova from Bulgaria (cello), Gloria Ramos from Spain (bass), Robbie K. Jones from the US (percussion). Moreover, for this new recording Finis Terrae have counted on Sudanese Wafir Gibril and Spaniard Eliseo Parra, among others. Therefore it is not surprising that the immigration experience and cultural clashes are daily issues of the band members. "El canto de la mulata rusa" (The Song of the Russian Mulato) tries to make audible the imaginations and feelings and confusion of an immigrant girl. Her world - and the music of Fines Terrae - is quite unique. A cultural cross-over of diverse rhythms and sounds drawing on Celtic, Slavic, Latin American and Arab musical cultures, both traditional and contemporary. Finis terrae is the end of the world, but hopefully "El canto de la mulata rusa" is not the finishing line for this multicultural outfit from Spain.
Walkin' T:-)M

Dick Gaughan "Lucky for some"
Greentrax; CDTRAX290; 2006; Playing time: 56:14 min
Come gie's a sang, they asked the poet. Tell our joys an tell our woes. The poet's work lies in a book, whaur naebody but scholars look. But still the makar's sang is sung, his words are pairt o everyone. What is left to say about that giant of a man from Scotland, Dick Gaughan (-> FW#25)? Virtually nothing, everything's written somewhere. Lucky for us here is his latest offering, featuring seven new originals, Jim Page's "Anna Marie", a traditional song ("Bleacher Lass O' Kelvinhaugh") and an instrumental piece. Topical folk songs: I hear you talking a lot about making money. I never hear you say much at all about giving. Whatever happened to those songs about getting back to the garden? Whatever happened to We shall overcome? Whatever happened to 1-2-3 what are we fighting for? I hear you justify becoming all the things you once hated by declaring what you used to be is just so out of date. The things you used to believe are naive and old-fashioned. It's so uncool to give a thought to anyone else these days. In the end, Dick even turns into a rock'n'roller: We weren't in it for the glory, we weren't in it for the fame. We just turned up and gave our all wherever we were sent. While the management and the record company got all the dough, the promoter got the sex, the roadie got the drugs and we got the rock'n'roll. Having said this, Dick's at his best when he's on his own. Whenever bass and drums get in the way (played by Dick himself), it becomes quite clumsy.
Walkin' T:-)M

The GerMANs "That's Allright"
Label: Rudolphon; RDP 150; 2005; Playing time: 56:46 min
Krauts singing in English? Even playing the blues? For Christ sake. No bother. You don't have to be black to have the blues, nor being circumcised for klezmer music. Not in these days anymore. So even Germans learned the trade of the twelve bar scheme and the blue notes. The band in question that called themselves The GerMANs Classic Blues Trio from Kiel are harp player Marc Breitfelder (-> FW#30), he learned his trade with Steve Baker (-> FW#27), singer and guitarist Detlef Reimers and piano player Georg Schroeter, plus other musicians from the local blues scene. The album's title had been taken from Elvis Presley's hit record "That's Allright, Mama" written by Big Arthur Crudup. The album is more than just allright. It features traditional blues songs, Robert Johnson, John Mayall, Muddy Waters (-> FW#25, FW#29) Lightning Hopkins, Leadbelly, even Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice". So take this advice: don't think twice and check out what GerMAN blues music sounds like.
Walkin' T:-)M

Give Way "Inspired"
Greentrax; CDTRAX280; 2005; Playing time: 45:39 min
Young Scottish hopes doing it again. Give Way (-> FW#26) play traditional and contemporary Scottish tunes (by the likes of Cunningham -> FW#30, McCusker -> FW#26, Brechin -> FW#9, FW#19), as well as one Willie Hunter Cape Breton tune (-> FW#2). These four young ladies might be inspired by the old ways, but they take no prisoners and set forth on a newfangled path. Accordion and fiddle are funked up with keyboards and drum kit. Titles such as "Jazziness", "Shake a leg" or "Rockin'" speak for themselves. Not everybody's dish, but far from distasteful. The band is quite young - many lollies were eaten to get through this album -, so there is much to come. Well, take the group's name to the heart and - give way!
Walkin' T:-)M

Griff "Griff"
Appel Rekords; APR1304; 2005; Playing time: 48:03 min
Sourdine "Sourdine"
Label: Appel Rekords; APR1310; 2006; Playing time: 45:43 min
Belgian Rémi Decker discovered bagpipes and whistles at the age of ten, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a well-known composer and pianist, who was also interested in traditional music. He formed the band Griff in 2002. It utilizes the skills of three teriffic bagpipe players as a starting point. Besides Rémi (bagpipes, low whistle), it is Birgit Bornauw (bagpipes) and Raphaël De Cock (uilleann pipes, low whistles, vocals). The repertory is a mixed bag of original compositions in traditional vein, arranged in a modern and contemporary way. Pascale Rubens (diatonic accordion), Maarten Decombel (guitar) and Benny Vanacker (double bass) provide the inventive accompaniment. I'm often reminded of Austrian band Hotel Palindrone (-> FW#12), similar sound and musical ideas and the same bizarre humour at times. Okay, this is a bagpipe overdose, but it is no overkill. As any fine drug it provides sweet dreams and tranquility, and you get addicted after a while.
Rémi Decker is a jack of all trades. His acoustic lounge trio Sourdine is three years together now and debuts on CD as well. Rémi plays whistle and pipes, Wim Beck the violin and Filip Lambrechts of Camaxe the acoustic DADGAD-guitar. Sourdine interpretes exclusively own compositions in the vein of traditional and acoustic European music. (Imagine titles such as "Jigastrophe".) The music is sometimes straight and sometimes jazzy. With Rémi and his various musical projects comes a fresh and creative artist doing acoustic and traditional music that is not old-fashioned but contemporary and exciting without losing his way in bizarre folk rock and experimental projects.
Appel Rekords, Distribution: Wild Boar Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Gueta na Fonte "Como agua de Mayo"
Label: Own label; Playing time: 50:46 min
Gueta na Fonte is a seven-piece band from Asturia, Spain. However, flute, gaita and fiddle don't play Asturian folk music, but Astur-Gaelic music with a strong Atlantic and Neoromantic flavour. It is artful folk music, a soundtrack that evokes scenes and landscapes though it takes the listener to tune types such as muneiras, jotas and pasacalles. From the 16 tracks on "Como agua de Mayo" (Like Water of May) only 4 are traditional Asturian and Celtic pieces, the rest has been composed by band leader Mento Hevia. Hevia was originally listening to 1970's popular music. With a band called "Crack" he performed symphonic rock music, including an epic suite about El Cid. In the 1980's he changed to Baroque music and started studying the cello. At the same time he discovered the beauty of Celtic music and Breton harpist Alan Stivell (-> FW#6). Eventually, Gueta Na Fonte plays symphonic Asturian folk music, and does to traditional music what progressive rock groups like Genesis did for pop music. Mento Hevia: It is an album recorded in Asturias not only for the Asturian, not only for folk followers and not only for people under 40.
Walkin' T:-)M

Härdelin Hallberg Hertzberg Ståby "Love Letters & Russian Satellites"
Westpark Music; WP87122; 2005; Playing time: 51:02 min
Four fairy-like and angelic voices, and a Swedish tour de force through the Nordic world of myths and legends. Emma Härdelin sings with Garmarna (-> FW#26) and Triakel (-> FW#29), Katarina Hallberg with Trio Fata, Johanna Bölja Hertzberg with Ditt Ditt Darium and Kapten Bölja, and Kersti Ståby once sang with Svart Kaffe and Envisa. The tunes are arranged and interpreted in different styles, mostly modern and contemporary. Tragic love songs, lullabies, mucking songs and medieval ballads from Hälsingland: "Kråkvisan", for example, is a 17th century song that tells of the many different ways of using a shot crow. Five blankets can be made out of the feathers, the skin is good for twelve pairs of shoes, etc. "Ro, Ro Fiskeskär" is an instruction guide to fishing and distributing the catch. The title song "Två Ryska Satelliter" is a contemporary and ironic song that tells the story of the 1960's Russian satellite mission. The booklet is in German and English to add some understanding to the musical pleasure.
Westpark Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Jack Harrison "Sailing With Dragons"
Label: Own Label; JHCD001; 2005; Playing time: 55:03 min
How many learned books have learned scholars written about ancient civilisations: Celtic, Greek & Roman, Native American, and what have you? And how many of the stories they have told are withering away, trapped inside the yellowing pages of these learned books, which are stowed away in library magazines in the bibliophile fortresses of academia? Well, here's an expert who writes songs rather than books, and a bunch of them have of late been recorded live at Tomás's Restaurant in Kinvarra, Ireland. Jack Harrison, a UCD graduate, is not exactly a philologist or archaeologist, yet he has lived with the myths and legends of many civilizations for the better part of his life and career. Working as a "heritage consultant" for the Irish state, he is responsible for the exhibitions at historical sites such as Newgrange, Coole Park and Glenveigh National Park. Harrison has never consciously decided to become a songwriter. Rather, he says, he has been writing poems and stories for years anyway. Coming from a musical family in northside Dublin, Harrison has always been a leisure-time singer and guitarist; as a youngster, he even toured the United States as a busker, playing Irish music in the streets with a bunch of friends for no less than three years. Consequently, at some stage the heritage consultant simply put two and two together and within no time found himself chanting the ancient stories to mesmerized audiences all over the Emerald Isle.
The title of Harrison's debut album, Sailing with Dragons, refers to the age of the Viking raids, with the word "dragon" alluding to the shape and style of the Norsemen's sailing ships. The corresponding song, "They Sail with Dragons", was inspired by an Irish monk's poem written in the margins of an early medieval illuminated manuscript. Its English translation reads: "Fierce and wild is the wind tonight. / It tosses the tresses of the sea to white. / On such a night as this I take my ease. / Fierce Northmen only course the quiet seas." As the expert explained these lines in an interview recently: "It was such a stormy night that the monk knew that at least for that night he could sleep because the Vikings couldn't sail in the storm." -- Harrison's other songs are based on a fifth-century prayer ascribed to St. Patrick ("The Deer's Cry"), the winter solstice at Newgrange ("Newgrange Bhajan"), the rising of Venus on the day it was closest to the Earth for 2,000 years ("Venus Rising"), the literal translations of Gaelic place names from County Donegal ("Silver Streets") and the first "feminist theologian", Juliana ("Julian") of Norwich, who lived in the fifteenth century and urged her followers to worship God as a Mother instead of a Father ("All Will Be Well").
Says the heritage consultant about his current leisure-time project: "I've sung these songs at several small festivals, and I performed them all the time in Kinvarra. They seemed to touch people and I think that's worth doing."
Erik Margraf

Jim Henry "One-horse town"
Label: Sixpack productions; SP 1002; 25:24 min
Jim Henry calls this mini album a seven song six-pack and announces that there will come more, and that´s good news for Jim (voc, g, dobro, mandolin) and partner Tracy Grammer (voc, vln) play enjoyable folk music. Jim opens with “Deep river blues”, a hat tipping to the american music giant Doc Watson, showing the direction he prefers: a nice traditional music, sometimes creating the sound of a string band by mandolin and dobro overdubs. Three tracks including the title song and a beautiful instrumental called “A sad farewell” are composed by Jim Henry and he is right to play his own material because all this tracks are good while “St. James infirmary” is the only weaker track. While perhaps not sensational this is a really nice and beautiful little collection. P.S.: Tracy Grammer already has an own sixpack to their credit. It is called “The verdant mile”.
Ansgar Hillner

Sam Hinton "Master of the Solo Diatonic Harmonica"
Label: Eagle's Whistle Music; EWM-1001; 2005; Playing time: 75:15 + 75:28 min
Sam Duffie Hinton has been born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1917. He got his first mouthie at five, a Hohner Marine Band, and reportedly played "Turkey in the Straw" before he left the store. However, Sam has always been best known as a folksinger. He recorded dozens of songs commercially between 1947 and 1992, only two tracks contained any harmonica playing. So few people know that he's a inventive solo diatonic harmonica player (first position, i.e. non-blues which is usually played second position). He created several advanced techniques: playing melody, rhythm and alternating bass simultaneously; playing a bagpipe drone; and playing melody and counterpoint melody. It must have been rather bizarre when he was playing simultaneously melody and 'stride' bass using only his cheek muscles to hold the instrument, while accompanying himself on the button accordion at the same time. This two disc set includes over 120 songs, tunes and stories: Celtic, American and European folk tunes, reels, jigs, airs, fiddle tunes, Yiddish melodies, hymns, hoedowns, hornpipes, plus some tin whistling, humming and mouth music, and an extensive boooklet. Most tracks were recorded when Sam was well into his 80s. As George Winston had it: an encyclopedia what can be done with the solo harmonica. What more can you get?
Sam Hinton still lives with his wife Leslie in La Jolla, California.; Distributed by Eagle's Whistle Music, POBox 951, Drain, OR 97435, (650) 804-2049
Walkin' T:-)M

Hoven Droven "Turbo"
Westpark Music; 87128; 2006; Playing time: 47:14 min
Abbamania hit continental Europe recently. At least, Germans went crazy. I sometimes wonder if the Swedish people know about that 1970's disco band at all. However, they don't need to, they have younger bands at hand playing modern dance music, at the same time steeped deeply into the musical roots of the country. Hoven Droven (-> FW#6, FW#13, FW#19) remains successfully at pole position of the fusion genre since 1989. The band is advertised and promoted as "Chieftains + Metallica". Hm? I don't think so, but so may be it, I can't label their music properly myself. That is traditional Swedish tunes (polskas, waltzes, polkas), but as never heard before. Hard rock music meets saxohone meets fiddle. The previous album "Hippa" was more folksy and mellowed, now Hoven Droven is back at the steering wheel. Their fifth album altogether rocks, and the lads step on the gas again. So: First gear ... second gear ... lean back, relax ... and let the turbo kick in!
Westpark Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Jugopunch "Where are we now?"
Label: Punchmusic; PM007; 2005; Playing time: 43:25 min
Jugopunch is a young band from Staffordshire in the English Midlands. Sometimes reminiscing the Pogues (-> FW#22, FW#30), but more folk, less punk, such as the acoustic numbers of The Men They Couldn't Hang (-> FW#25). So it is no pure folk music anymore, still no rock act at all. The tunes are catchy, driven by harmonica and banjo. The choruses are rousing, the lyrics haunting (all original except the traditional American "MTA"). The song writing is blending folk and punk attitudes for life in the 21th century: But your father didn't like me, your mother didn't care. Your brother tried to fight me, while your sister stood and stared. I could never see it, I could never understand, why you turned so cold, like the whisky in my hand. This band is gifted and encouraging.
Walkin' T:-)M

Seth Kauffman "Ting"
Label: Own label; 2005; Playing time: 38:09 min
"Ting" is the solo side project of Seth Kauffman who is the multi-instrumentalist of North Carolina's Choosy Beggars (-> FW#29). It is an amalgam of rhythm and blues, soul, funk and a lot of different styles that are not easy to pidgeonhole. This Jug Hustler Blues is sometimes quite experimental and far from any mainstream rock'n'roll music. So are the song lyrics. If you fell in love with the Choosy Beggars' rhythm'n'soul, this could be your affair as well.
Walkin' T:-)M

Gwyneth Keen "Singularity"
Label: Wise Records; WIS3SSCD; 2005; Playing time: 42:57 min
Gwyneth Keen hails from North Wales and is a marvellous singer (and sometimes songwriter). "Singularity" features four Welsh and English traditional songs, four original tracks, Nathalie Merchant's "Motherland", Nick Drake's "Things Behind the Sun" and Felix Pappalardi's "One Last Cold Kiss". Her own songs are very personal, Gwyneth says: We all have a safe place to escape too, mine happens to be music and while I take refuge there, it has to be true to what I believe, otherwise how can I sing with any conviction? It is a very exciting blend of folk and pop music (compare it to Irish singers Pauline Scanlon and Gillie McPherson, see reviews below), supported by musicians such as fiddler Sian Phillips (-> FW#22). At least it is a singularity for me, since folk music from Wales is not too often on my desk and in my CD player. Gwyneth Keen created a Welsh masterpiece that is steeped way back in tradition, while at the same time heading forward. And it is a joy to listen to. Gwyneth will also be touring with a band comprising of cello, percussion, guitar, violin and harp.
Gwyneth Keen and Sian Philips are also members of the Welsh band Celtish. I got to listen to three tracks of the forthcoming CD, and this sounds very, very promising.
Walkin' T:-)M

Pat Kelleher "Songs of the Sea"
Label: Long Neck Music; PK002; Playing time: 46:36 min
Kimber's Men "Don't take the hero"
Label: A Private Label; APL11; 2006; Playing time: 73:15 min
The era of the big sailing ships is also the era of the Songs of the Sea. Sailors sung all the while: shanties, working songs, love songs, sentimental songs about home and the season. Pat Kelleher is a singer and clawhammer banjo player from County Cork, Ireland. From an early age, he had a fascination with the wide open sea and maritime songs. His repertory includes traditional Irish and British sea-songs, plus more or less contemporary stuff with the occasional excursion to Canada and the US. Makem's "Boys of Killybegs", Seeger's (-> FW#31, FW#31) "Lifeboat Mona", Coulter's (-> FW#17) "Home from the Sea", Rogers' "Mary Ellen Carter", and traditionals such as "Three Score and Ten" and "The Holy Ground". Some tune or the other is well-known from the repertory of The Dubliners (-> FW#23), and this comparison gives you a good impression what to expect. Only that Pat's singing and delivery is more refined.
"Haul Away Joe" and "South Australia" (the former with special Irish lyrics) link Pat Kelleher with the weather-proofed voices of Kimber's Men from Britain: John 'Ship's Cook' Bromley, Neil 'Ship's Bosun' Kimber, Joe 'Ship's Doctor' Stead, Roger 'Ship's Cabin Boy' Hepworth. The title song "Don't Take the Heroes" has been written by Roz and Neil Kimber about a real tragic incidence in 1981, and is a tribute to the men who risk their lives on the lifeboats. Best known are songs like "Lovely Nancy", "General Taylor", "Rolling Home", or "Leave Her Johnny Leave Her". Stan Rogers is featured as well, here with "Northwest Passage". "No More Auction Block for Me" is the song which Dylan turned into "Blowing in the Winds". Unaccompanied singing, four-part harmony and a very committed ethos lead to a perception in how it once did sound at the high seas. Save that the old time seamen were rougher fellows and did not have that subtle voices. (P.S.: Since recording cabin boy Roger died of lung cancer, and David Buckley had been shanghaied.),
Walkin' T:-)M

Tomas Kocko & Orchestr "Poplor"
Indies; MAM307-2; 2006; Playing time: 45:59 min
The title "Poplor" means poplore; from Latin populus, shortly pop, and lore from English folk-lore. Pop and folk, both means people. Music from and for the people, in days of yore and in modern times. Music that is part folklore and folk music, part pop music. Tomas Kocko explains: It is the wordplay. There is a consideration behind it that when I view the pack called folklore music I can see in it all the genres of the current pop music - including the trashy ones. I tried to find in the pop rank the genre for each song, to which it, in my opinion, inclines. Tomas Kocko as master of ceremonies invited some 30 musicians - because most of the instruments he cannot play himself - to record the riffs and parts that he wrote. Sometimes I find the music too light and I would love to have a rougher and more robust sound. The songs are from all over the place, from Czechia, Moravia, Poland, Serbia, Russia and Silesia. And what it is all about? The traditional Serbian song goes: A maiden killed her lover, so that he could not love and look at another girl. She gave his beloved fair hair to clear water, so that they did not stroke, did not shine, and never smelled pleasantly to another mistress. She gave his beloved hands to flames, so that they did not hold, embrace and stroke another mistress any more. She gave his beloved eyes to mother earth so that no more mistresses smiled and looked into them. When she did all this, she climbed on a tall mountain, let her scraf fly with the wind and began to sing ... Well, this isn't a very common theme in today's pop music, eh?
(If you're interested in Czech and Slovakian folk music, search out the article about Indies Records in this FW issue.)
Indies Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Konaboj "Omalovanky"
Indies; MAM298-2; 2006; Playing time: 50:20 min
"Omalovanky", i.e. the colouring book, is the second album from the Slovakian folk rock band Konaboj (-> FW#28, FW#29; my apologies that I made them a Czech band last time). Now featuring new fiddler Milan Sána (ex Terne Chave -> FW#31). The fourteen songs are traditional, mostly drawn from east Slovakia, but the band from Vyskov turned them into catchy rock songs. Just like the debut album "Ja sa kona bojim" it is an altogether enjoyable pleasure, performed by excellent rock and traditional musicians. I only wonder about one thing: it oftentimes is an excuse for rocking up the tradition, and Konaboj does so as well, that it is meant to draw a younger audience to traditional song and music. Well, I don't know, isn't it enough to have good music, fun and a hell of a time? With Konaboj this is guaranteed.
(If you're interested in Czech and Slovakian folk music, search out the article about Indies Records in this FW issue.)
Indies Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Les Chauffeurs à Pieds "Déjeuner canadien"
Label: Scorbut; SCOR-4; 2004; Playing time: 53:01 min
Les Chauffeurs à Pieds "Au studio des trois lits"
Label: Scorbut; SCOR-9; 2006; Playing time: 46:05 min
These are already the fourth and fifth recordings of a very talented traditional band from French-Canada. So why are Les Chauffeurs à Pieds not as famous as other Quebecois bands? The line-up at the time of writing is: Antoine Gauthier (fiddle, mandolin), Louis-Simon Lemieux (fiddle, guitar, harmonica, foot tapping), Benoît Fortier (Recorder, harmonica, french horn, piano, foot tapping), Olivier Soucy (guitar, bass, fiddle). "Au studio des trois lits" (At Three Beds Studio) is an instrumental music only album. The young quartet plays powerful jigs and reels, foot tapping inclusive. "Déjeuner canadien" also offers chansons à répondre (call and response songs). The band's name means either drivers on foot or feet warmers, pointing to the foot-tapping and the driving rhythm of the band. So lets forget about Le Vent du Nord (-> FW#31), La Volée D'Castors (-> FW#26), La Bottine Souriante (-> FW#26), etc. for a short while, here comes the next big thing from Québec.
Walkin' T:-)M

The Loosehounds "Takista"
Label: Rembrandt; RBt 002; 2005; Playing time: 47:31 min
The place is West midlands and Mid Wales, Shropshire and Powys precisely. The name is The Loosehounds. The genre is alternative pop and rock music, a peculiar mix of folk, roots and rock music, a rock backing, a saxophone player and the occasional whistle and mandolin. Add some nice catchy songs and a reportedly very powerful live performance. The sound reminds me of early Fleetwood Mac and acoustic bands such as Lindisfarne (-> FW#25), the attitude of Steve Skaith's Latin Quarter (-> FW#26). Most songs tackle topical and social issues, the Iraq war, ecology, underdeveloped countrys. The title track "Takista" (Greek for soon) tells of visitors from outer space which see a planet with all the resources it needs but his inhabitants destruct themselves.
Walkin' T:-)M

Lúnasa "Sé"
Compass; 7 4422 2; 2006; Playing time: 47:54 min
It's ten years already now for the Irish supergroup Lúnasa. They belong into the top ten list of traditional Irish bands ever, though - or is it because? - they never had a singer and still remain a strictly instrumental outfit only. The previous album recreated the live sound of the band, "Sé" (i.e. six) is more reflective with lots of breaks and pauses all along the way. Fiddler Sean Smyth explains: Our last project was a live recording in Kinnitty Castle. This time we wanted to do a studio album and we wanted to it to sound that way as well. Furthermore, guitar player Donogh Hennessy left Lúnasa to concentrate on playing with his fiancé Pauline Scanlon (see CD review below). So the band lost a brilliant accompanist and tune writer; Tim Edey, Conor Brady and Paul Meehan filled the gap on the record. The latter joined Lúnasa live. So it's not business as usual, but still a thriving business it is. Lúnasa's sixth album to date is grand (what did you expect?). Perfect, groovy, precise like a clockwork. The tunes are rather unusal and are not already recorded to death. Go get 'em, see them live (-> FW#30, FW#32), buy their cds (-> FW#5, FW#12, FW#21, FW#27, FW#28), get their tune book (-> FW#26), play along ...
Walkin' T:-)M

Brendan P. Lynch "Tunes from the Hearth"
Label: Own label; BLCD 01; Playing time: 46:26 min
Brendan P. Lynch "Irish Traditional Fiddle Music from the Heart of Fingal"
Label: Own label; BLCD02; 2005; Playing time: 44:34 min
Fingal is an administrative county of Ireland, formed from part of the historic county of Dublin. It covers the coastal area north of the capital along the Irish Sea and south of the River Delvin to the River Liffey. The original name derived from the Irish Fionn Gall meaning fair strangers, denoting the Norsemen. The Fingal area is musically best known for uilleann piper Seamus Ennis. The Seamus Ennis Cultural Center in the Naul - only recently re-opened after being closed due to a fire - reminds of this influential traditional Irish artist. The music, dance and song tradition is strong here. Fiddler Brendan P. Lynch was born and raised in the small rural village of Ballyboughal nearby. Brendan started Irish dancing at the age of 6 and danced for many years at competitions. At the age of 12 he turned to the fiddle and has played, toured and taught ever since - besides his daytime job as spatial planner. He was fortunate enough to have met the few remaining older traditional musicians and to learn many of his favourite tunes from them. "Irish Traditional Fiddle Music from the Heart of Fingal" is a solo fiddle album. "Tunes from the Hearth" features guitar players Mick Gannon and Peter Eades as backing, and uilleann piper Tommy Martin as well as mandolin and banjo player Christy Sheridan as support. Brendan is also singing here, the traditional songs "The Old Dungarvan Oak" and "I wish they would do it now". (the latter set to a variant of "The Wearing of the Green" tune).
The heraldic crest for Fingal reads Flúirse Talaimh is Mara meaning Abundance of Land and Water. Not mentioning the abundance of music, song and dance. Fingal is a unique area, Brendan a unique fiddle player, and it is great that he puts the place back on the traditional music map again.
Walkin' T:-)M

Heather MacLeod "Crossing Tides"
Label: Label: Leod Music; LEODCD001; 2005; Playing time: 46:11 min
If you've grown up in a small island on the edge of the Celtic Fringe, it is not to be taken for granted that you'll produce your first album with a double Grammy-winner on harmonica and a living double-bass legend and release it on your own label. Given this, the mere fact of Heather MacLeod's solo debut is already an accomplishment. Born and raised in the Isle of Lewis, this gifted Scottish singer-songwriter has recorded ten tracks which feature the famous Sugar Blue (harm) and Danny Thompson (db) along with a number of top Scottish-based intrumentalists. Crossing Tides contains 10 songs, 8 out of which are originals composed by the Celtic colleen herself. These tracks are indeed crossing tides in the sense that they range from the piano ballad (on "Languid Line" as well as the cover version of Richard Thompson's "Baby, She Don't Know What to Do with Herself") to the blues howl ("That Ol' Devil Called Drink") to the up-tempo, big-band-style tune ("Man of Many Valentines"). Throughout the album, MacLeod's impressive voice is partly accompanied by brass "kicks", piano "bubbles" and harmonica fills, partly contrasted by double-bass solos (as superbly played on "Sunshine", for instance) and string intermezzi ("Fantasy") faintly reminiscent of Jimmy MacCarthy's first album.
"Breathtakingly beautiful" (Folkforum), "pure genius" (The Hebridean), "a prodigious talent" (Folkmag) -- Need I say more?
Erik Margraf

Kevin MacLeod "Dorney Rock"
Greentrax; CDTRAX 302; 2006; Playing time: 48:02 min
A feast of strings: Kevin MacLeod plays mandolin, as well as bouzouki, cittern, tenor guitar, resonator tenor guitar and lapsteel guitar. And if that's not enough, he is supported by Irishman Alec Finn (De Dannan) and his Greek bouzouki, Orcadian guitar player Kris Drever (e.g. -> FW#23) and Tasmanian bouzouki and mandolin player Luke Plumb (Shooglenifty -> FW#16, FW#25, FW#26). "Dorney Rock" is the third recording of the Scottish mandolinist of The Occasionals ceilidh band fame: traditional Scottish and Irish instrumental music; sometimes leaving the well-trodden path; a pavane by Frenchman Pierre Attaignant (1494-1551); "Cancion Mixteca", a 1930's song by a Mixtec Indian from Mexico that appeared in Wim Wenders' film "Paris, Texas". An album of Celtic music - Scottish or otherwise - played on the mandolin is still a rare treat. So enjoy it. Thanks, Kevin.
Walkin' T:-)M

Malinky "The Unseen Hours"
Greentrax; CDTRAX26; 2005; Playing time: 62:56 min
One of the great traditional Scottish bands for a couple of years: Malinky (-> FW#14, FW#16, FW#24). The five-piece group is fully equipped with whistles, flutes, uilleann pipes, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, guitar and bodhran. And there is tremendous singer Fiona Hunter. And songs is the main business, besides three instrumental tune sets exploring Scottish and Nova Scotian and Irish and Scandinavian legacy. "The Unseen Hours" features nine traditional songs and ballads. Best known is the border ballad "Hughie the Graham" (included in the Child collection) and the Irish song "Sean O Duibhir a'Ghleanna" (in an English translation). There's more Child ballads ("Edom O Gordon", "King Orfeo") and David Francey's (-> FW#30) "Flowers of Saskatchewan". There is a first foray into the world of ballad writing. "The Sun's Cousin", words by mandolinist Ewan MacPherson and tune by bouzouki player Steve Byrne, is based on a Croatian folktale and it fits well into the Scottish tradition of supernaturals ballads. "The Unseen Hours" proves that Malinky is still going strong. For some time, hopefully.
Walkin' T:-)M

Malý Princ [Demo CD]
Playing time: 48:50 min
Malý Princ is a seven-piece band from Presov, Slovakia, established from Slovakian pop bands in 2002. Together its members turned their attention to traditional Slovakian songs and turned them into folk rock, pop and country music pieces. The songs are fairly raw (at least the sound of the demo CD is), straight-forward, not very sophisticated but mostly dominated by acoustic guitars and gypsy fiddle. They all have a rather long duration, most of them are over six minutes. The sound is not as rocking as fellow Slovakians Konaboj and not as popsy as Druzina (see reviews above). I suppose that audiences have much fun at Malý Princ concerts. Rousing choruses that could inspire the waving of beer and dancing naked in the streets. Malý Princ means the little prince, apparantly taken from the famous novel of French aviator Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Just like that, this Slovakian band has someting child-like and idealistic in their music.
(If you are much more interested in Slovakian (and Czech) folk (and folk rock) music, search out the article about Indies Records from Czechia in this FW issue.)
Email Malý Princ
Walkin' T:-)M

Simon Mayor & Hilary James "Children's Favourites"
Acoustics; CDACS 054; 2005; Playing time: 73:26 min
Mandolin player Simon Major and singer Hilary James (-> FW#30) have a bias for Children's Music. Both presented and wrote for BBC music education programmes since the 1970s and wrote over 60 songs for children. They produced 5 albums in their Musical Mystery Tour series. "Children's Favourites" features 16 original compositions, 5 sketches and 8 selections from the classics (Holst, Schubert, Warlock, Handel, Vivaldi) and traditional songs and tunes (Lavender's Blue, Sally Ann Johnson, Fais Dodo). There is some echoing of the "Lullabies with Mandolins" album. Not only mandolins can be heard but fiddles, guitars, banjos, ukuleles etc. as well. This is a great record, not only suitable for children but for all ages. What means children's music anyway? Well, sometimes the tunes and songs are simpler, the words are not that subtle. However, some of the arrangements are quite complex. I wonder if children can so easily deal with it. After all I'd say: Recommended! It makes a nice Christmas present as well.
Acoustics Records
Walkin' T:-)M

More English CD Reviews:Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3
Overview: CD Review Contents

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2006

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