FolkWorld Issue 43 11/2010
FolkWorld CD Reviews
This FolkWorld issue includes an interview to the Galician band OPHIUSA (FW#43). In the past Issue#42, we commented their second CD ‘Sen Planeta’ (#42). Now listening carefully to this 1st CD of OPHIUSA ‘Paos’, we can recognize again the style of music that they have been working on the latest years. I am not sure if it shall be classified as modern Galician folk, or if it is simply modern folk music without any defined geographical identity. That is not really the case since the basic melodies and rhythms they work on are clearly derived from today’s ‘Celtic’ music: Irish, Scottish, Galician ... But they are treated in OPHIUSA’s personal way, with quite a few innovations already, but not yet as progressive, jazzy & techno as their following ‘Sen Planeta’. In ‘Paos’ OPHIUSA still keeps some typical Galician folk elements such the singing and the gaita bagpipes, that did not appear at all in ‘Sen Planeta’. Other influences that may be found in a few songs are coming from bluegrass or reggae (like in the song C-47). Very skilled musicians and a very pleasant & happy set of modern ‘Celtic’ folk songs. Now OPHIUSA promises a third record in the near future, and they announce some return to more essential Galician roots.
PRADAIRO is a Galician traditional band that started in 2006, and has enjoyed an intense trajectory. Their focus was on the pure trad music from Galicia (NW Spain), but they have also participated in relevant international ‘Celtic’ folk festivals such as Lorient (French Brittany) or Ortigueira (Galicia). Their first recordings were in 2007 in the Galician radio, but in 2008 PRADAIRO published their first CD ‘Aliaxe’. We are talking about a band with up to 10 members singing & playing mostly traditional Galician instruments (gaita bagpipes, tambourines, drums, accordion, sax). In their 2nd CD ‘Pateado’, PRADAIRO presents a compilation of 10 songs very traditional & collected from field recordings performed in a number of villages in Galicia. But their approach to Galician trad music is also flexible, as it shown for example in the song ‘Sa-pateado’ where PRADAIRO presents an interesting fusion with flamenco style guitar, demonstrating that they do not reject to experiment with popular music from other places such as southern Spain.
A Banda das Crechas "ABDC"
Do Fol Música/BOA;
There are hundreds of pubs scattered across Spain’s geography (Irish style in most cases). But the ones that program live music events are counted just by dozens. Even much less if we are talking about folk music sessions. And then, there are the very few ones that become ‘mythical temples’, due to the singular efforts of enthusiastic & tireless: bar tenders and owners, musicians & loyal fans. Examples : CA BELEÑO in Gijón & Oviedo (Asturias), LA TABERNA DE ELISAin Madrid, and A CASA DAS CRECHAS in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia). This CD is a compilation of 15 songs performed in May 2009 by a group of the musicians regularly meeting for the trad sessions in A CASA DAS CRECHAS (The House of the Ripples), the other “cathedral” in Santiago/St. James, the one for Galician folk music. This band plays 8 songs traditional from Galicia, but there are others from Ireland, Scandinavia (from the bands VÄSEN & JPP), Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Castile (central Spain). ABDC (A BANDA DAS CRECHAS) are: Chus BELLO (banjo), Pablo DALAMA (saxo & gaita), Antón GUILLÉN (fiddle), Roi VÁZQUEZ (flutes), Manuel AMIGO (gaita, djembe, Galician percussions), Davide SALVADO (voice & pandeireta/Galician tambourine), Pepa YAÑEZ (voice & pandeireta), Gonzalo GOÁS (guitar), Carlos FREIRE (percussion), Xan PAMPÍN (bass drum), Santiago CRIBEIRO (accordion) and Quim FARINHA (fiddle). Santiago & Quim are members of the band BERROGÜETTO. ABDC certainly transmits the intense emotion of just a few of the many top folk artists from Galicia, sharing their passion for traditional music, and doing it in a historic & amicable folk music ‘temple’. It can be specially felt in tunes such as the Galician ‘Pasodobre de Viascon’, the ‘Slängpolska efter Byss-Kalle’, the Irish jig ‘Queen of the Rushes’, the Bulgarian-Macedonian ‘Hard on the Heels’ from Andy IRVINE & Davy SPILLANE’s record ‘East Wind’, or ‘Por Encima del Aro’, a North-Castilian song popularized in recent times by Eliseo PARRA. This ‘baile charro’ (a.k.a. ‘La Llave de la Alegría’) traditional from county Aliste (Zamora province), is sung here by Davide SALVADO who plays in the band of the gaita piper Xosé Manuel BUDIÑO. Let’s hope that Spain’s faded economy in 2010, still allows more folk music initiatives as positive as this one.
Tiller's Folly "Stirring up Ghosts"
Own label; 2008
Tiller's Folly are singer/songwriter Bruce Coughlan (also guitar, whistles, flutes), bass player Laurence Knight and multi-instrumentalist Nolan Murray. Together with a bunch of excellent guest musicians they have recorded 12 songs for their new album "Stirring up Ghosts".
Coughlan starts with the folk hymn "The Ghost of Simon Frazer". He plays acoustic guitar and sings with his tender tenor about THE pioneer and discoverer of British Columbia, accompanied by Murray on mandolin, Knight on bass, Joby Baker (drums, Wurlitzer), David Sinclair (e-guitars) and Aidan O'Brian on pipes and whistles. Then we can listen to soft songs, rhythmic folk, as well as intoxicating two-steps. In the booklet we can find information about the songs and pictures and thus Coughlan awakes the spirits of the past with his music, lyrics, pictures and historical facts. Often the arrangements are nearly symphonic, the beautiful ballad "The Ghost of Kitty O'Reilly" though is only accompanied by acoustic guitar, bass and Ian Cameron’s soulful fiddle playing. The drinking song "Down at Gassy Jack's" stands out with Coughlan on flute and whistle and Murray on fiddle and banjo and on the Country song "Electric Railway Line" Murray takes out the mandolin, Robbie Steininger plays the dobro and the guitars and Knight and Gord Maxwell support Coughlan with rhythmic choir singing.
"Stirring up Ghosts" is an outstanding concept album, brought forward by brilliant musicians, and delivers authentic folk music, a lot of information and great pictures.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Mr Love & Justice "Watchword"
Homeground Records; 2009
The Swindon based band Mr Love & Justice has recorded 13 new original tracks for their fifth album “Watchword”. Besides singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steve Cox the band features Marcus de Freitas (guitars, vocals, string and brass arrangements), NickWeaver (guitars, vocals), Rob Beckinsale (keyboards, accordion), the two bass players Matt Wood and Mark Stevenson, as well as a great rhythm section with drummer Brendan Hamley and the two percussion players Trevor Smith and Nick Ruddle.
The tender instrumental "Trees" starts the musical journey with Cox’ beautiful guitar playing, supported by the fine rhythm of the drums. Cox is a fine guitar player and has a beautiful voice. The CD continues with the nostalgic song "The Shilling Folk" with Stevenson’s driving bass, the rhythmic and melodic Pop hymn "This World" as well as the folky "We raise the Watchword", spiced with an intoxicating rhythm, Beckinsale’s virtuoso accordion playing and wonderful choir singing. The Canadian songwriter David Celia plays guitars, percussion and harmonica on "The Bottleneck Song" and adds his voice to the harmony choir. De Freitas’ wailing slide guitar, harmonica and the melancholic singing dominate this Americana. Guest musician David Headon delivers stunning acoustic guitar and bass playing on "Sunday Morning, Sunset Town". De Freitas works a lot with synthesizer and thus creates a symphonic sound with strings, brass and woodwinds. My favourites though are the acoustic songs like "We, the Chartists". Brilliant playing together of acoustic, electric and slide guitar as well as the shuffling rhythm and Freitas’ Banjitar, a six string instrument not guitar not banjo, accompany the hypnotic singing. Guest keyboarder Joan Besen, Freitas on synthesizer and Cox on guitar, bass and drums perform the psychedelic rock of "Blood & Oil" and Barry Andrews treats the keys on the final instrumental track "East".
Mr Love & Justice’s new album offers a first class semi acoustic fusion of folk, rock and pop. Their music stands out with extraordinary harmonic vocals, excellent arrangements and great musical accompaniment. I like the CD.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls "Catching More Than We Miss"
Hailing from the Midlands, the two songwriters Miles Hunt (vocals, acoustic- electric- and bass guitars, mandolins, percussions, programming) and Erica Nockalls (violins, piano, vocals, hand-claps) prove that you don't need a big band to create a symphonic sound; on their new album "Catching more than we miss" they are only accompanied by Andres Karu on drums and percussion.
Hunt's beautiful voice, Nockall's brilliant violin playing and the intoxicating rhythms capture your ears and the dramatic arrangement ask us to deal with it "D.W.I.". From time to time Erica takes the lead and performs some stunning violin playing before Miles starts to mesmerize you with his expressive singing. The platform for their breathtaking interpretations are mostly joyful pop rhythms (stay scared, stay tuned) or sing a long folk songs (Fill her up & foot down). Mark Davies on bodhràn joins the beautiful duet with Erica on "Plans in the sky" and another highlight are the thoughtful lyrics of "Were you there?", spiced with Hunt's awe inspiring singing and Nockalls replacing a complete symphony orchestra. In the booklet they admit to be in the mood to get on with the next album after having finished the recording of the joyful last song "Head to head".
I for myself I can't wait to hear more of them. Hunt and Nockalls are one of the finest duos you can find on the British Isles. Their innovative music doesn't fit in any drawer and leaves you with a smile on your face.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Barzin "Notes to an absent Lover"
Monotreme records; 2009
Toronto based singer/songwriter Barzin has recorded his second album "Notes to an absent Lover" with a bunch of excellent musicians. Barzin who plays the guitar wrote all nine songs and is backed up by Melissa McClelland's hauntingly beautiful voice.
So the CD starts with the hypnotic "Nobody told me" and the tender singing together of the two brilliant singers; fine rhythms, romantic strings and soft woodwinds add to mesmerize the listener. The melancholic Blues "Queen Jane" is brought forward with passion and is followed by a beautiful Americana song, "When it falls apart". Robbie Grunwald creates a psychedelic mood on vibraphones and Barzin's singing and Burke Carroll's pedal steel accompany the soft ballad "Lost".
I like the album, the poetic songs lure you into a world outside of daily business and leave you relaxed smiling in your armchair. Try it out!
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
The Demon Barbers "And the Adventures of ... Captain Ward"
Own label; 2010
Leeds based folk ensemble The Demon Barbers have recorded 13 brilliant tracks, traditional, self-crafted as well as cover versions, to launch their new album "And the Adventures of...Captain Ward". The Demon Barbers are Damien Barber (vocals, guitar, concertina), Bryony Griffith (fiddle, vocals), Ben Griffith (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Will Hampson (melodeon) and Lee Sykes (bass, backing vocals). Guest appearances of John "JB" Stuckey (beatbox) and the four ladies of the road show (clogs, backing vocals) complete the line-up.
Starting off with the traditional song "Captain Ward" and Hampson's instrumental tune "Munchen Fest" the Barbers set an intoxicating pace. Bryony's hauntingly beautiful vocal performance on "Bonny Boy" is followed by the incredible groove of Barber's "Rise up" and "Harry's Hornpipe" stands out with great playing together of fiddle and concertina. "Soul Cake" is a perfect showcase for Sykes' driving bass lines and Ben's virtuoso rhythms while "Calling on Song" stands out with the combination of traditional fiddling and Bryony's beautiful alto voice with rhythmic stepping and JB's stunning human beatbox. My favourite cover version is Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil", brought forward by Bryony and Damien as a duet and the traditional "Three Ravens" is the absolute highlight and a perfect final song. The two mesmerizing voices and the modern groove are accompanied by excellent fiddle playing.
The Demon Barbers have published a first class folk album fused with modern music styles. It's new, it's fresh and it's a must be listened to.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
The QP "Intro"
Own label; 2008
2006 Will Pound (accordion, harmonica) formed the Quarter Pounders to perform at the Warwick Folk Festival. He teamed up with Laurel McIntosh (flute, vocals), Matt Crum (melodeon, saxophone), Joe Crum (drums), Dan Bones (guitar, bass, vocals) and Susie Bones (vocals, whistle) and two years later they produced their debut album "Intro" with 11 traditional, covered and self-crafted tracks.
They start off with the title track, an awesome medley of tunes and song featuring several rhythm changes. Drums and accordion create an intoxicating pace while flute and Susie Bones' beautiful singing mesmerize the listener with sheer beauty. The following two sets of tunes written by Matt Crum are a perfect showcase for these first class musicians; whistle, flute, harmonica and accordion play marvellously together to Joe's driving rhythms. The traditional "Hexham Farmer" stands out with wonderful singing together of Susie, Laurel and Dan and "Bonny Bonny", one of Susie's favourites to sing, is performed with passion and much musical talent. Matt Crum's brilliant soprano saxophone playing as well as flute and whistle create a jazzy groove on the "Mexican Catharsis Set" and they finish with the Morris dance tune "Speed the Plough" in a breathtaking pace.
The six young musicians from Leamington Spa near Warwick have recorded an outstanding CD; modern folk music, brought forward with musical skill. Their innovative sound is new and fresh, a must listen to for folk fans.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Emily Spiers "The Half-Moon Lovers"
Bonna Musica; 2010
Oxford born singer Emily Spiers (also flutes) moved to Bonn, Germany, in 2006 and met some brilliant German musicians, the outcome is her new album " The half-moon lovers" with ten traditional songs and two instrumental tunes by whistle player Till Storz. She recorded the CD together with Irish, English and German musicians.
The CD starts with a brilliant version of the Irish traditional "My Johnny was a Shoemaker" with Storz playing a wonderful whistle tune to Emily's mesmerizing voice. Michaela Grüß on bodhràn and Wolfgang Brammertz on bass create the intoxicating rhythm on "The Bed Making"; bouzouki (Tobias Kurig), harp (Steph West), fiddle (Tina Terrahe), accordion (Aisling Lonergan), flute and whistle accompany the rhythmic singing and the passionate playing together of accordion, whistle and fiddle dominates the up-beat instrumental "The broken Bed". But Emily also sings beautiful ballads like "The Emigrant's Farewell", accompanied only by Marc Decker on whistles and harmonium or the melodic "Mary and the Soldier" with Kurig on bouzouki and Stephan Schneider on fiddle and percussion. Another highlight is the melancholic "Searching for the Lambs" with fine singing and playing together of fiddle and bouzouki.
Emily Spears has produced an exceptional debut solo album with well chosen songs and first class musicians. Her singing is inspired and the musical accompaniment perfect. Don't miss this talented young lady!
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson "Gift"
Topic Records; 2010
Yorkshire born and now Edinburgh based singer and violin player Eliza Carthy has teamed up with her mother Norma Waterson and some well chosen guest singers and musicians to record a brilliant album with 8 traditional songs, two cover versions and a poet by the American writer Longfellow brought to music by Eliza.
It starts off with the breathtaking singing of Eliza, Norma and Marry Waterson accompanied by Aidan Curran on guitar and mandolin and Danny Thompson on double bass: a terrific version of "Poor wayfaring stranger" bluesier than Blues, my favourite. Norma Waterson sings with her wonderful voice another American traditional, the melancholic "Boston Burglar" and "Bonaparte's Lament" is a rhythmic song with Eliza and Norma singing a beautiful duet. Another highlight is the swinging cover of "Ukulele Lady/Half as nice" with Roger Williams on trombone, a brilliant guitar solo by Curran and the three gifted singers. Eliza sings with her powerful voice the bluesy "Prairie Lullaby" by Rogers and Martin Simpson plays the banjo, more isn't needed, and the final "Shallow brown" is performed by seven first class singers.
The new project is another masterpiece by Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson, two bright stars on the British folk scene. Perfect arrangements, inspired musicians and exceptional singers make this album to a must have.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Omnia "Wolf Love"
Pagan Scum Records; 2010
After their Live DVD (FW#38) the Dutch Pagan-Folk Band Omnia has published a new CD/DVD set called "Wolf Love". Multi-instrumentalists and singers Steve Sic and Jennifer Evans have recorded together with Luka Aubri Krieger (vocals, slideridoo), Joe Hennon (acoustic guitar), Philip Steenbergen (guitars) and Tom Spaan (drums, cajon) 16 new tracks in different studios in Holland. The DVD features Live material filmed at the Castlefest 2009, studio footage as well as a fantastic slide show accompanied by great music.
"Wake up" Jenny whispers gently in your ear to Steve's beautiful singing before they start off with the rocking Rap ballad "Dance until you die". The intoxicating drum rhythm is accompanied by the tender sound of the Celtic harp, the hypnotic sing-sang of the hurdy-gurdy, bass, bouzouki, acoustic guitar and slideridoo. Steve's Rap is backed up by Luka's powerful singing and Jenny's mesmerizing voice, for me the best track on the album. Jenny and Steve has transformed Lewis Carroll's poet "Jabberwocky" into a dramatic musical piece performed on harp, guitar, drums and with Kaat Geevers on nyckelharpa. Omnia's first ever recorded cover version is Leonard Cohen's melancholic song "Teachers", a beautiful and passionate interpretation with three excellent singers. Another perfect showcase for the three voices is "Shamaniac" with ecstatic singing and driving percussions. As a short interlude Jenny performs Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's "Solfeggio" with much musical skill on the grand piano. The track list is completed with the romantic non verbal poet to the "Moon" lead by the hammered dulcimer and accompanied by great percussion work and Luka's breathtaking slideridoo, or the wonderful folk ballad "Cornwall".
The DVD introduces us to the making of "Wolf Love" and includes some highlights of the Castlefest 2009. My favourite is "Saltatio Vita", a terrific instrumental dance with Luka going wild on the slideridoo and Steve adding some brilliant whistle playing.
With their new set Omnia celebrate their Pagan life by making Pagan music, music that brings together ancient rhythms and chants with contemporary musical styles, an extraordinary experience.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Own label; 2010
Hilary Coleman (vocals, clarinet, harmonium), Bec Applebee (vocals, percussion, scoot dance), Neil Davey (vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle) and Steve Hunt (vocals, guitar, bodhràn) invite us to share their traditional Cornish music. Together with some excellent guest musicians Dalla recorded twelve brilliant self-crafted, traditional or covered tracks.
Their mix of rhythmic dances like the initial schottisch with great clarinet playing and Will Coleman adding his brilliant piping and the beautiful duet singing of Hilary and Bec like on the Cornish five-step "Ann Tramellan" is awesome. "Tolla Rooz" stands out with jazzy playing together of bass clarinet and fiddle to the intoxicating darabuka rhythm. The melancholic American song "Maggie May", a hauntingly beautiful slow dance called oll adro with Bec's mesmerizing harmony singing or the rhythmic jowster written by Cornish songwriter Roger Bryant "Falmouth Packet" show the great musical spectrum these first class musicians cover. Other highlights include the breathtaking chanting accompanied by the Perraners choir on "Turning of the Tide" and tenderly mystified by the sound of bouzouki, pipes and Indian harmonium or another rather fast paced five-step set featuring an unbelievable pace, Bec's passionate singing and Tom Tremewan reciting the poet "cribbar" in Cornish.
Cornwall, another Celtic world to discover, and Dalla are probably some of the finest guides you can find. For me this is one of the best folk albums published this year.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
The Jones Boys "Like the sun a-glittering"
The English power folk trio The Jones Boys play traditional music from Ireland, England and Scotland. Sam Sloan sings and plays the diatonic accordion and concertina, multi-instrumentalist Gordon Jackson (string instruments, whistles, percussion) mostly sings the lead vocals and Ian Carey can be heard on mandolin and mandriola.
Hyper Cockle Records; 2010
A fiery reel set and a swinging jig set start the musical journey. Three more intoxicating dance sets and several beautiful songs follow for the listener to enjoy. There is the melancholic Irish song "My Son John" and the rhythmic "The Ship in Distress". "The Fowler" (from Harry Cox) stands out with beautiful a capella singing by Jackson, discreetly accompanied by mandolin and mandola. My favourite instrumental track is William Clancy's slip jig "The Choice Wife", and my favourite song is "Lyke Wake Dirge", a kind of Yorkshire Book of the Dead, with dramatic singing to an eerie slow groove.
Three first class musicians have recorded a breathtaking album. Traditional elements are fused with modern electronic sounds and brilliantly brought forward.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Alex Hodgson "Jeelie Jars 'n' Coalie Backies"
Greentrax Recordings; 2010
Singer/Songwriter Alex Hodgson (acoustic guitar, mandolin) from East Lothian recorded seven self-crafted and four traditional songs for his album " Jeelie Jars 'n' Coalie Backies". Accompanied by seven excellent musicians and his niece Jennifer Leitch adding her beautiful singing he bewitches the listener with his wonderful songs.
From the rhythmic traditional Jive "Willie's gon' tae Melville Castle" to the hauntingly beautiful love song to his wife "Isobelle" Hodgson brings forward a diversified program. Tony Kime's fine violin playing and Hodgson's soulful singing dominate the latter and accordion (Kenny Hutchinson) and mandolin create a romantic scenery on the folk hymn to the "Fisherow Belles". "Inveresk" is a symphonic ballad with great synthesizer and piano playing (Hutchinson) and passionate singing. My favourite is the rock song "Witch Hunt" with Calais Brown's brilliant e-guitar groove, David Paton's pulsating bass, Jim McDermott's intoxicating drum rhythm and dramatic singing. McDermott takes the djembe and Kevin McGuire the double bass to play a driving pace to the extraordinary arrangement of the traditional song "As a come in by Fisherow" and finally Hodgson sings to James Mackintosh's rhythmic ukulele playing on "Mary let me tak' ye dancin'", dedicated to his mother.
Alex Hodgson's brilliant song writing, Kenny Hutchinson's awesome arrangements and the first class musicians make this album a must to listen to for friends of modern Scottish folk music.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three "River Boat Soul"
Free Dirt Records;
Gilkyson, Gorka & Kaplansky "Red Horse"
Red House Records;
Earlybird Stringband "Earlybird Stringband"
Voices Wonder; 151cd; 2010
The John Hartford Stringband "Memories of John"
Roosevelt Dime "Steamboat Soul"
Own label; 2010
Some Americana (more or less) albums, starting with a bluesy one by Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. The third album by this Rambler on which he shows his love for the traditional styles of America including some blues and soul. His music is deeply rooted in the American culture and LaFarge manages to bring the acoustic music into the new millennium. You can hear the pleasure these guys having making this music and the passion they feel for it. This album is solid as a rock and interesting for everybody who likes to hear how American roots should sound yesterday, today and tomorrow. The second album comes from a trio called Gilkyson, Gorka & Kaplansky. With Red Horse these three respected musicians released the result of their joined venture. Twelve songs, self written but also a traditional and their version of Neil Young’s I’m a Child. All three do vocals and guitar and are occasionally backed by musicians on percussion, dobro, lap steel etc. The result is an easy going album with friendly music rooted in the US singer-songwriter, Americana and acoustic folk music. It’s less expressive than you might expect, but more introvert and peaceful. Maybe perfect for the restless minds amongst us? The third one is by the Earlybird Stringband a band from Norway. This nameless album is their debut CD and includes thirteen compositions in stringband-Americana tradition with occasionally a surprising link to Norwegian tradition. The band was founded in 2005 and now the six musicians play in a, more or less, traditional stringband line up. With banjo, fiddle, dobro, mandolin, bass and vocals this sextet brings sunny self written songs. Only Agderrilene is a collection of known Norwegian traditional tunes, a great addition to the album and I wish they added more of such refreshing brakes. A promising debut with easy going, well played string music which brings joy in the living room. The fourth one is by another stringband called The John Hartford Stringband. A quintet stringband that plays a beautiful tribute to the legendary Bluegrass artist John Hartford who died in 2001. Together with guests such as Alison Brown, Béla Fleck and many others, the band plays in a pure and inspired way. Keeping the roots of the music well intact, this is how the music should sound. Pretty sure all lovers of the genre will embrace this album and enjoy its authentic atmosphere. The last album in this review comes from the band Roosevelt Dime and is called Steamboat Soul. The five musicians ask you to imagine a boat trip on the Mississippi river and to relax. It’s exactly the right description of their style of music. They mix jug band with folk, blues, country and soul. Nice musical arrangements bring together the best of these styles. It’s authentic, frivol, party and relaxing at the same time. It’s rooted in tradition without being old fashioned, this is modern acoustic American roots music at its best.
Clarence Bucaro "Til Spring"
Twenty twenty records; 2008
An older album by US singer songwriter Clarence Bucaro called Til Spring. Two years ago this nice album was released and according to the sleeve, we should compare his music with the warm sound of the late sixties Van Morrison songs. Well, being raised by a Van Morrison freak-dad, I do like that sound but somehow I don’t hear it in Bucaro’s music. Nevertheless Bucaro impresses in his opening track called Til a spring wind blows again with his nice, bit airy, voice and backed by strong musicians he recorded a song in the best American music tradition. A bit Southern sound mixed with dreamy lyrics and strong craftsmanship. How different is When man plays god which is much rawer and actually starts like a standard pop rock song but soon explodes into a nice steamy, rocking piece of music. Unfortunately on a song like Back in the world Bucaro never goes further than the standard, light pop/rock style. A pity because in the next song he shows a much more inspired side. Definitely a strong album although Bucaro tends to crawl a bit to the mainstream styles. I personally think he should stay away from just anything that smells like mainstream, he’s got the creativity and the talent to develop his own style.
Various Artists "Vrenelis Gärtli - Neue Schweizer Volksmusik"
Migros; 13; 2010
A compilation album with eighteen traditional (more or less) artists and songs from the Swiss mountains. With yodel and alphorn in the spotlight in many different ways. Accordion and violins are all over the album. A recognizable Swiss product which is unbelievable stereotype. They present this as new folk music from Switzerland, but what I hear is mostly conservative traditional sounds. Often well played, but hardly ever refreshing or renewing.
Sean Taylor "Walk with me"
Own label; 2010
It was only about a year ago when I first got an album by the English singer-songwriter Sean Taylor. I loved that album and wrote a very positive review in the Folkworld magazine. Now his latest album arrived and Taylor shows great progress in his music. Eleven songs, nine new material, one Shakespeare and one traditional. With six fantastic musicians Taylor shows his quality as a singer, musician and composer. The album starts gently with Perfect candlelight which somehow fits in the style of his former album. Exciting is Hold on with subtle Hammond organ, exciting guitar, bit raw harmonica and Taylor singing as if he whispers in your ear and tries to tempt you into a dangerous world. Interesting is his version of a Shakespeare sonnet which is called Love hate on, starting with just voice, piano and soft percussion and halfway carefully joined by the beautiful sound of the cello. Nice to hear a more expressive Taylor in Feel alright again with Hammond organ and a nice sax solo. His interpretation of the famous folk song She moved through the fair is very different than the many other versions I know. Sounding less like a traditional song, more like a psych-blues/jazz piece. This new album shows that Taylor is more than ready for a worldwide audience.
KV Express "D-Sensation"
From Belgium comes this debut album by KV Express, a band centered around accordionist Sophie Cavez. Together with Cedric Waterschoot on bass guitar and Fred Malempré on percussion. Eleven new compositions by Cavez mixing jazz with (more or less) traditional styles from many corners of the world, especially the Southern parts of the European and American continent. Not only is she a great accordionist, together with the other two musicians she creates a fresh sounding kind of folky jazz rock. Top quality from Belgium for lovers of the relaxing, creative crossover acoustic music.
Monoswezi is a quartet with African and Scandinavian musicians focusing on the Shona People’s music from Zimbabwe. On Mbira, marimba, percussion, clarinet, sax, drums and bass, the band starts with a bunch of traditional compositions from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Nice and authentic. The new compositions have a more jazz influenced style with improvising vibe. Here they blend the warm earthy African rhythms with the more airy Scandinavian jazz elements.
The music always stays authentic without being old fashioned. It’s nicely done but you need to have at least a bit of interest in the particular African rhythms I think.
Fay Hield "Looking Glass"
Imagine being an English folk singer, imagine you want to record a debut album and the World famous Topic label says yes! Known for her work with the band Witches of Elswick, Fay Hield impresses with a wonderful debut album including nine (known) traditional pieces, one new tune and a Kipling/Bellamy piece. I don’t know what’s going on in England at the moment but somehow it feels like the past five, six years a new English folk generation stood up. Together with Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney and a few others, Hield brings freshness to songs like The Huntsman, King Henry and The Banks of the Nile. In strong, sober, energetic arrangements Field and the musicians show the beauty of English folk songs. Somehow her style of interpret ting the songs remind me a bit of Maddy Prior with this difference that Hield has a warmer and less sharper voice. I think Topic proofs with this album their international fame for quality music and Fay Hield proofs to be one of the most talented singers in the modern world of English folk.
Roberto Delira & Company "Zabobon"
About six or seven years ago I was walking through Oslo, the last day of a long Scandinavian holiday and looking for some record shops. The sound of a hurdy-gurdy attracted me to a small square were a guy was playing the instrument. We started talking and he turned out to be Polish and a great fan of the Scandinavian folk(rock) music. Just a few months ago I got an email asking if I remember him and if I was willing to review his album Zabobon. Of course I said yes and a few days later this six track long album landed on my doormat. It was worth the six years of waiting, Zabobon is an intriguing, strong and beautiful album. A song like Jarowit jarylo is clearly influenced by Hedningarna’s album Trä, as many other moments remind me of this landmark album. Kon intro & Kon is dark Polish psych-folk with haunting vocals, this typical Polish way of playing the violin and the beating of the big folk drum. Same with Pantera which mixes the Hedningarna sound with Polish tradition in a great way. Next is O jednej wiesniaczce, an up-tempo hurdy gurdy dance. The album ends with some raw folk metal called Zabobon. A very nice song, but a bit of a stranger between the other tracks. I think this is a strong debut and this album shows a big promise for the future. I do hope the band keeps on developing and playing together. Within a few yours they might be one of Poland most interesting bands.
Bernard L’hoir "12 Escapades for Piano"
Thierry Crommen "Diversions"
Well, all of you who regularly read my reviews know that I like the Belgian Home Records label. They dare to be different and come with unusual recordings for a select audience only. Two new releases has just been delivered. First one by Pianist Bernard L’Hoir. As the title suggest, twelve of his own compositions, spanning the period from 1954 until 2010. All recorded in 2010, but written during the almost sixty years, before. Being parts of several groups and worked with international artists, this album shows his quality as composer and pianist in all its glory. I’m not a piano specialist in any way, so don’t ask me if he touches the instrument in the right way or whatever. I can only say that the compositions are a bit theatrical at moments, a bit jazzy at other moments and very easy going. It’s not music that make my eye frown, but I don’t mind listening to it as well. It’s music that entertains. The second one on the Home records label comes from another solo musician, on the diatonic and chromatic Harmonica this time and is called Thierry Crommen. Together with Chris de Pauw on guitars, Erno on Piano and Achim Tang on bass. This new album contains eleven new tracks. Jazz, blues, light rock influences or just beautiful melodies. Crommen surprises with his warm and professional play. Backed by three great musicians this is a strong album. No folk at all, but music that has the right spirit. Looking back, this were two Home record albums that were a bit out of my league, but especially the Thierry Crommen one, is a nice addition to my collection.
Tríona ní Dhomhnaill "The Key’s Within"
Tee nee dee music; 2010
3 Triúr "Sa draighean"
Own label; 2010
West Ocean String Quartet "Ae Fond Kiss"
Own label; 2010
Starting this (more or less) Irish review section with a legendary name in Irish Music. Tríona ní Dhomhnaill has been active in music for over thirty years and she has recorded, both solo and as band member, some legendary albums. I still find her first solo album from 1972 one of the best Irish albums and her work with the Bothy band is fabulous. But also her lesser known work with Skara Brae, Touchstone and other groups is worth having in your collection. This The Key’s Within is a new solo project and contains fourteen new compositions. All played and sung by Tríona herself. The result is for me personally a bit disappointing. The many piano parts are mixed with dreamy ‘clannad’ sounds, but happily enough not as overdone as Clannad used to do this. I like these song were she let the piano and accordion speak much better. It’s Traditional influenced music for a big audience that like the more middle of the road style of Irish music and although I have a great respect for this musician and the album is technically perfect, it’s not my style and I get a bit bored after five of these Piano tracks. But seen her reputation and professional craftsmanship, I do recommend you visit her homepage and listen if this is your kind of music. The second Irish album comes from 3Triúr. A collaboration between Peadar ó Riada, Martin Hayes and Caoimhín ó Raghallaigh. The album is called Sa Draighean and contains sixteen tracks, all written by ó Riada. The result of this joint venture of three top musicians is a strong, acoustic Irish folk album with high quality music. From pure traditional vibes in the many reels and jigs to a dreamy song like Tráthann an taoide, these musicians now what they are doing and love doing it. Interesting (more or less) traditional album which will give joy to the fans of the genre. The third album comes from the West Ocean String Quartet and is called Ae Fond Kiss. This album contains several traditional and new compositions, all deeply rooted in the Celtic tradition. Together with guest vocalist Maighread ní Dhomhnaill the string quartet brings a sunny album full with beautiful melodies. They show that well known theme’s can sound very different when they are played in a less common musical setting. It changes some of the traditional works into beautiful classical pieces. And the high pitched vocals of ni Dhomhnaill fit perfectly to the sound of the strings. A nice album that shows another side of Irish music, a side that is not often heard (at least in the part of Europe I come from).
Janusz Prusinowski Trio "Mazurki"
Own label; 2008
Janusz Prusinowski Trio "Serce"
Own label; 2009
The Janusz Prusinowski trio is originally a trio (now a quartet) from Poland grouped around singer, accordionist, dulcimer and harmonium player Janusz Prusinowski. Together with flute and clarinetist Michał Żak and percussionist Piotr Piszczatowski they recorded their first album in 2008 called Mazurki. Together with two female guest vocalists and (at that moment guest bass player) Piotr Zgorzelski (on the new album he is part of the quartet and not a guest any more) they play fourteen wonderful compositions with the Mazurek as a kind of returning theme. This debut album shows furious dances together with beautiful songs like Chłopolek and the nice female singing in Nie było I ni ma. The compositions have something typically Polish, but an international sound as well. Fantastically played, superb dulcimer, wild violin, strong percussions and both dreamy and hysterical flutes. It happened to me before, a Polish band that takes me by surprise with the high quality music and creative, enthusiastic way of playing. Two years after the release I’m very happy this album came my way, this is a pearl in my collection of Polish (folk) music. On their new album called Serce, which means heart, the trio is a quartet and their guests are an extra bass player and trumpet player. The album starts more subtle with Serce in which the dancing accordion forms a great pair with the warm male vocals. The percussion and trumpet interrupt at the right moment and make this a intense kind of round-dance. Although there are many similarities between the two album, this new one has a more frivolous nature, it are hypnotizing dances mixed with soft wooden flute solo’s, klezmer influences and so much more. A strong second album by a band that was totally new for me but got my full attention and became one of my favorites from Poland.
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2010
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