FolkWorld #59: CD Reviews
FolkWorld #59 03/2016

CD & DVD Reviews

Annie Gallup "ghost"
Own label, 2015

www.anniegallup.com

Californian singer/songwriter Annie Gallup plays on this album primarily her own songs. The songs are lyrical and are about love and loss, about places (a song about West Memphis) and history (battle of Brooklyn). They are presented with Annie's husky voice, accompanied on her own banjo, plus some fiddle, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro. The album closes with a cover version of Dougie McLean's "Caledonia", sung at a slower pace than the original.
© Michael Moll


The Rapparees "Re:Session"
Own label, 2015

www.therapparees.com

A new powerful acoustic four piece band from Ireland, playing energetic contemporary yet clearly Irish folk. With expressive vocals, including decent harmony singing, and a line-up of fiddle, guitars, banjo, mandolin and more, the young men pick an interesting mix of new and old, contemporary and traditional. Some of the material pleasantly reminded me of the great Afterhours - particularly "Derry goal" written by Afterhour's singer Alan Burke. The first track of the album, the Barry Kerr song “Clear Bottle” may have suggested to me, in the best possible way, that this was more of a Celtic folk rock fun band, but this style is, I am glad to say, confined to the first track. The band is joined for the album by a number of guests on percussion, piano/keyboards, pipes, flute and accordion.
© Michael Moll


Blackthorn "Open skies"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

www.blackthornband.com

This long-standing Celtic band from Vancouver in Canada, already together for more than 25 years, really impressed me with this album. Look on the sleeve notes and you'll find plenty of well-known songs from UK folk traditions. But boy, Blackthorn’s versions are real stunners. There's a beautiful and uplifting version of "Country life", known through the Watersons, AndyM Stewart's "Queen of Argyll" interpreted to highest quality closely to the original Silly Wizard version; a great version of "P stands for Paddy"; and. "Rattling Roaring Willie" in an interpretation reminding somewhat of the Chieftains. Mixed in are a original songs in Celtic style, as well as some tunes of Celtic and French traditions. And just when you thought it could not get much better there's a cracking French Canadian song "V'la l'bon vent”. Superb instrumental skills, great voices with excellent harmony singing, and a perfect choice of well and lesser known material, this is simply a top album.
© Michael Moll


Alan Stivell "AMzer"
Harmonia Mundi, 2015

www.alanstivell.bzh

He may be one of the most important and influential musicians of the French - and particularly Breton - folk revival, and now playing already more than 50 years. Yet Alan Stivell's new album – album number 24 in his career - does not appeal at all to me. The harpist, singer and innovator has put together an album of experimental, contemplative music which to me is too new age and esoteric. It features very slow and low key singing, soundscapes, experimenting with sounds. Or how the sleeve notes describe the music: “The deep solace that transpires is supported by a « sound design » where vocals, flutes, and percussions build the mould for some contemplative music, a kind of avant-folk with an innovative electronic take.”
I have not found any pleasure from listening to this album, although I trust that others may find that this music wraps up warmly around the listener...
© Michael Moll


The Dovetail Trio "Wing of evening"
RootBeat Records, 2015

www.dovetailtrio.com

This English trio is made up of singer/guitarist Jamie Roberts, singer Rosie Hood and concertina player and singer Matt Quinn. Their love for seeking out lesser known traditional songs is very evident from the choice of 10 ballads (plus one instrumental) on this album. The Dovetail Trio are firmly rooted in traditional English music, and their combination of good male and female voices (solo and in harmonies), concertina and guitar proves a winner for the chosen songs. A fine, slightly melancholic album of trad English song.
© Michael Moll


Hilary James "You don't know"
Acoustics, 2015

Artist Video

www.hilaryjames.com

Hilary James is a well-known English singer and double bass player, often appearing in duo with mandolinist/guitarist Simon Mayor. Previous albums were focussed on English folk songs, as well as a series of albums with children's songs.
Her latest album sees her return to a music style which influenced her formative years: blues, old time and ragtime music. The album presents 13 songs in just those music styles, largely from American sources, including several classic old time songs. There is also one original song, the first track on the album: "Last show tonight". She is backed by some great acoustic music, with Hilary herself playing double- and mando-bass, her duo partner Simon Mayor various string instruments and Simon Price drums.
Hilary brings so much warmth and a very appealing gentle swing into the songs, making “You don’t know” a delight for the ears.
© Michael Moll


St. Beaufort "St. Beaufort"
Own label, 2015

www.stbeaufort.com

A trio of Canadian, American and German musicians, St. Beaufort play original songs in a style dominated by acoustic folk pop with influences from bluegrass and country - or as they describe it, they are "musically influenced by folk traditions of European immigrants and North American pioneers". The topic of emigration and exploration is a dominant theme throughout the album, and is explored more broadly than just around the American pioneers – “Calais”, for example, is about modern day migrants. Banjo, mandolin and guitar are enriched by occasional accordion and blues harp songs. What makes this album so appealing are the charismatic voices of the boys, including attractive three part harmonies. Very enjoyable.
© Michael Moll


Mawkin ”The ties that bind"
Good Form Records, 2015

www.mawkin.co.uk

English folk rock band Mawkin present on their new album a range of rebellious songs with a male feel to it – with a fair dose of drinking, sailors and shipwreckers and working men in the mix. Yet the quality of these songs is high and not particularly raucous, with some good vocal harmonies. The album also feature some more gentle love songs, as well as a few sets of tunes – including some Morris and a wild set of French tunes. The five Essex boys play guitar/mandolin, violin, melodeon, bass guitar and drums.
© Michael Moll


Majorstuen "Kvitre"
Own label, 2015

www.majorstuen.biz

Majorstuen is a Norwegian folk string quintet, playing fiddles, cellos, violas, double bass. Their latest album is entirely themed on birds: 13 compositions, each dedicated to a different bird, from great tit and blackbird via woodpecker and lark to puffin and Canada goose. The tunes are inspired by the characteristics and singing styles of these birds, and while there is a little bit of tweeting and pecking in the mix, these are enjoyable tunes, in a style that blends Scandinavian traditions, classical music and new ideas.
© Michael Moll


Världens Band "Transglobal Roots Fusion"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

www.varldensband.com

This is a real tour de force of amazing music inspired from three continents. It's a band of superlatives - 14 musicians from 7 different countries, featuring many award winning musicians, including Swedish bands Kolonien and Abra, Scottish Rura, English Last Orders, as well as Indian singer Charu Hariharan, Senegalese Abdou Cissokho, French piper Cassandre Balbar and Mediterranean singer Navah Elbaz.
Expect the unexpected on this album. A track may start as a distinctive Swedish folk rock tune and song, but then moves into a French rap section before returning to Sweden. A Scottish pipes and drums style tune turns into a Balkan tune played on Galician pipes. Songs in Swedish language are merged with African song traditions, there is Indian classical singing and a Mediterranean music medley (reminiscent to me of the seminal Carlos Nunez album "Os Amores Libres") and a lot more. It's easy to lose track of where in the world you are at any given moment of the music.
This wide range of music is blended yet without turning it into a mash: the music remains somehow true to the original traditions. Throughout the album you will find snippets that will remind you of some of the best folk and world big bands.
This is true world music which will appeal to run folk fans and world fans alike. Simply ingenious.
© Michael Moll


A Filetta "Castelli"
World Village Music, 2015

Artist Video

www.afiletta.com

A whole album of pure a Capella polyphonic vocals. A Filetta are six singers from Corsica who sing in beautiful harmonies. The album has a very religious choral feel to it, even though many songs are secular, written for cinema or theatre. Many songs are originals written by one of the band members, Jean-Claude Acquaviva. The band was founded in 1978, with the objective preserve the island's oral heritage. Nearly 40 years on, the band's vocals are still going strong.
© Michael Moll


Bill Howarth and Pip Ives "Hard Labour"
Own label, 2015

www.pipives.co.uk

An album with a safe, very traditional English feel to it - despite featuring with Bill Howarth's English dulcimer a these days less than usual instrument on the English scene. Pip Ives, the other half of this duo from Kent providesaccordion, and these two instruments often accompany a range of better known traditional English songs. This is an album pleasant in its simplicity, and its cosy folk club feel. The only thing I found did not work too well is that in some songs - particularly the first track - the instruments are recorded in a way that each comes only from one speaker; while this may give more of a session feel, it certainly does not work too well when listened to on headphones.
© Michael Moll


Arnaud Ciapolino "serenita"
Paker Prod, 2015

Breton flautist and composer Arnaud Ciapolino has assembled for his album a very impressive host of guest musicians, including Scottish musicians Kris Drever (guitar, voice), Eilidh Shaw (fiddle), Angus MacKenzie (pipes), Ross Martin (guitar) and Alasdair White (fiddle), plus French guitarist and singer Nicholas Quemener, from the jazz world Fidel Fourneyron (trombone), from the blues scene pianist Johan Dalaard, as well as Mike Clinton an electric bass and Latabi Diouni on drums and percussion.
Most of the tunes are composed by Arnaud, and centre around his flutes, but as you would expect of such a cast the music surrounding the flute is top quality too. Stylistically bridging Celtic folk, jazz, world and other styles, the album is enriched by two songs - an Ivan Drever one "Shipwrecked" and a Townes van Zandt song "If I needed you" sung by Nicholas Quemener. My favourites on the album are the tunes with more rhythm and structure, often presented in a folk band or folk rock style.
© Michael Moll


Brendan McAuley "The McCartneys of Pennyburn 1865 - 1912"
Own label 2015

www.brendanmcauleymusic.com

The music on this album is inspired by the lives of the McCartneys of Pennyburn, who are Brendan's ancestors. The life stories would indeed be the perfect material for memorable ballads - a family know in Derry as great public speakers on nationalist issues and land reform with close links to Charles Stuart Parnell, and most interstingly the brave fight of John McCarthy for his rights against a railway company which he took all the way to the House of Lords and succeeded. However, apart from one original and one traditional song both not relating closely to these great stories, all other tracks are instrumental. So it takes a vivid imagination to relate the tunes to the stories of the lives of the McCartneys. The music is of high quality though, with all instruments being played by Brendan himself, creating a band sound of beautiful uilleann pipes, flutes, guitar, mandolin, percussion, whistle and more.
© Michael Moll


Matthias Loibner "Lichtungen"
Traumton, 2015

www.matthias.loibner.net

This is a bit of an unusual album as it is fully dedicated to solo hurdy gurdy. The Austrian musician is a very experienced player, known from his work with leading Austrian new folk band Deishovida or the Sandy Lopicic Orkestar.
On his second solo album, Matthias is pushing boundaries, showcasing the variety of sounds that can be created with the hurdy gurdy, including the impressive feel and sound of a whole ensemble coming from just a single instrument. Some of the music is melodic and accessible, some creates more of a soundscape, and some is more sound effects than music. I don't find this an album that many will tend to listen to regularly, yet I found listening to it has been an interesting and revealing journey.
© Michael Moll


Various Artists "Songs of separation"
Navigator Records, 2015

Artist Video

www.songsofseparation.co.uk

The ten artists who have taken part in this recording project raise highest expectations of this album, reading like a "who is who" of female folk artists from Scotland and England: They include Eliza Carthy, Karine Polwart, Hazel Askew, Mary Macmaster, Hannah James and the initiator of this project, Jenny Hill. And the album does not disappoint, being as impressive as anticipated.
There are 12 stunning songs, traditional and self penned, interpreted by great singers, with clever contemporary folk arrangements. The album includes three excellent Gaelic songs, as well as great interpretations of the likes of "Echo mocks the corn crake" sung by Karine Polwart, "It was a for our rightfu king" by Hannah James and a chilling but very beautiful song "London Lights" presented by Hazel Askew. There's just one song where I don't like the arrangement, which is Sea King sung by Karine Polwart but backed primarily by clapping.
The idea of the album is to "create a recording which reflects on the issue of ‘separation’ in its many forms, through traditional song. Celebrating the similarities and differences in our musical, linguistic and cultural heritage, and set in the context of a post-referendum world, the work aims to prompt new thinking about the issue of separation as it occurs in all our lives." I have to admit that I would not necessarily recognised this topic without knowing about it, and cannot quite see the direct link to the "post referendum world" but that does not matter one bit. This is a superb well rounded CD and is highly recommended.
© Michael Moll


Maalstroom "Lure"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

www.maalstroom.net

Their music is firmly influenced by Anglo/Irish Celtic music, yet Dutch band Maalstroom successfully and confidently blends this influence with their own Dutch roots. The result is an extremely appealing, distinctive music style.
Nearly all the music and song on "Lure" is composed by band members. The interpretation is fresh and wonderful, featuring clarinet/bass clarinet, fiddle, guitar/bouzouki and bodhran/percussion, and also the singing, with songs in both English and Dutch language, is attractive. Maalstroom's musical talent, if there was still any further need of proof, is testamented by the guest appearance of Jo Freya on the album, and by the fact that Flook's very own Brian Finnegan (though not appearing on this album) was a founding member of the band.
A confident album which showcases Maalstroom as one of the top folk acts from the Netherlands and as a band that should be a household name in folk circles at home and abroad.
© Michael Moll


Whisky Trail "Concerto"
Own label; 2015

German CD Review

www.whiskytrail.it

From the name of this Italian band I would have expected some alcohol fuelled fun folk/folk rock/ folk punk - but Whisky Trail could hardly be further away from this: With its sophisticated acoustic Irish folk, their music is certainly more for the whisky connoisseur who fully saviours the moment of enjoying their dram. With the title of the album "Concerto", referring to the Italian classical form of the 'concerto', the band wants to give a greater prestige to Irish music and put it at a higher artistic level.
Whisky Trail has already been around for the last 40 years, and on Concerto they display their impressive skills in a top line-up featuring uilleann pipes, Celtic harp, fiddles and guitar. Their material includes self composed tunes, as well as songs with lyrics based on texts from Guilia or from ancient Irish origins, in English language (plus one in Irish) . The songs are sung with an appealing warm Italian accent. With just under 33 minutes it may be a short album, but it certainly holds its quality.
© Michael Moll


Eamon Friel "In my time"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

www.eamonfriel.com

Irish Singer/songwriter Eamon Friel offers on his new album 11 self penned songs, talking of memories, thoughts, reflections, dreams of his life. The songs are appealing both in their lyrics and their gentle and warm presentation. Storms in Australia, dreams of a better world, weather, technology, childhood memories from Ireland are just some of the topics covered in the songs. Born to Irish parents in London and now living in Ireland, Eamon's music style is singer songwriter folk with Irish, Blues and some pop influences. Playing guitar and piano, Eamon is joined on some of the songs on accordion, fiddle, sax, bass, trumpet - mostly arranged in a style of appealing simplicity. On the first track "Brave new world" he is joined by a bit of an choir turning the chorus into a great hymn. Nicely done record.
© Michael Moll


Vilma Timonen Quartet "Drops"
Bafes Factory, 2015

Article: The Multifaceted Sound of the Kantele

www.bafesfactory.fi

A beautiful album of self composed Finnish songs by singer and kantele player Vilma Timonen. The musical focus is on Vilma's kantele playing and her lovely crystal clear voice , with her quartet adding percussion, bass and guitar/trumpet/mandolin. Some of the songs have more simple arrangements, with a somewhat melancholic feel to them. I like every bit of this album but my highlights are the more upbeat songs which take the quartet into Finnish folk pop territory, with some songs reminding me of one of my favourite Finnish folk pop singers Sari Kaasinen.
A lovely album, distinctively Finnish but taking in influences from other parts of the world, as well as other music styles, including at times an attractive gentle dose of Jazz.
© Michael Moll


Frank Wuppinger Arkestra "Places and roots"
Berthold Rec, 2015

www.frankwuppingerarkestra.de

German guitarist and composer Frank Wuppinger has a love affair with Eastern European music, and composes his own tunes which sound authentic to Eastern European music traditions. The majority of tunes on the album are written by Frank, with some traditionals mixed in. Greek, Kroatian, Bulgarian and Eastern European gipsy music - this all-German band is confident in all of these styles, in a way that you would not hesitate to place the band members' origins to Eastern Europe. The band skilfully blends those Eastern European traditions with jazz music. The Arkestra features guitar, accordion, percussion, fiddle, bass, sax and trumpet. For a few tracks, they are joined by Greek Canadian singer Frances Pappa.
© Michael Moll


You shouldn't know from it... "It's Klezmer"
Oriente Music , 2015

Kroke "10"
Oriente Music, 2015

Les Nuages Ensemble "Mazel Tov!"
Felmay, 2015

A trio of CDs with three very different interpretations of Klezmer, taking the listener to three different countries - Germany, Poland and Italy.

www.knowfromit.com

The album name of "You shouldn't know from it ... it's Klezmer" is certainly misleading - if you can hear, you definitely will know that this is Klezmer; in fact of the three CDs reviewed in this section, this is the one that is the most quintessentially and most traditional Klezmer. The band from Berlin, one of the European heartlands of Klezmer, plays music inspired by Klezmer of the first half of the 20th century and songs that were sung at Eastern Eiropean weddings. The clarinet dominates throughout the album, joined by accordion, bass and drums. My personal highlights are the dance tunes with the fullest sounds featuring the drums; their lively sound makes the listener want to get up and dance.

Article: Überlebensmusik

www.kroke.com.pl

Compared to the "You shouldn't know from it...", in the case of Kroke's album you may be less certain that their music is Klezmer. This Polish trio has taken Klezmer to different levels, creating their very own avantgarde style. The music certainly does have Klezmer in its soul but it takes strong inspiration from other folk and world music styles - particular Eastern European and Middle Eastern - as well as classical music. With their tenth album, Kroke do not disappoint, taking the listener on an intense yet satisfying journey full of unexpected music experiences. Unlike most other Klezmer bands, the clarinet does not play any role in Kroke, with their sound dominated by accordion, viola and double bass (plus guest percussionist). Much of the music - with some great vocal arrangements in songs without words where the voices act more as instruments - is extremely accessible and whirls around in your head well after listening.

www.lesnuagesensemble.it

Finally a trip to Turin in Italy for more Klezmer, here from an all female quartet. Les Nuages Ensemble started off studying classical music, then went on to play Irish, Scottish, Swedish folk, world and classical music - until they took part in a Klezmer course at the Conservatoire Charles Munch in Paris, after which they decided to form this Klezmer ensemble. Despite their wide ranging musical background, the album gives the impression that these four ladies just live and breathe Klezmer music. Featuring violin, clarinet, accordion and double bass, the ensemble presents traditional Klezmer music with a fresh contemporary touch - unmistakably Klezmer yet influenced by classical and folk and world influences. They are joined on four songs by Yiddish singer Oxana Mochonet (including the in the 1960s extremely popular song "Dona Dona") plus a narrative provided by a theatre actor (the latter not working well if you don't understand the language).

Quite a musical journey with these three CDs - and I would be hard pushed to recommend one Cd above the others.
© Michael Moll


Les Siffleurs de Nuit "Deliez-moi les piers!"
Own, 2014

www.lessiffleursdenuit.wix.com

A collaboration of two Breton singers with two multi instrumentalists from Quebec - that in itself sounds like a winning combination. And Les Siffleurs hold this promise in every possible way.
The Breton singers Emmanuelle Helias and Anthony Gerard present Breton songs in a traditional singing style, with many in Breton and some in French language. While the singers also add percussion and a very atmospheric and distinctive trumpet sound to the mix, the instrumentalists Felix Duhamel and Alex Kehler play violins, guitar, nyckelharpa, Jew's Harp and the for Quebec nearly quintessential foot percussion. The result of this collaboration is an energetic mix of Breton song and dance, interpreted in a fresh and contemporary way.
© Michael Moll


Tsaziken "Kischkesch"
West Park Music, 2015

www.tsaziken.de

The Tsasiken are eight female singers: five of German (from nearly all corners of the country), one Russian, one Polish and one Slowenian orgins. The material they attack is even more culturally diverse - Eastern European, Bavarian, Scottish Gaelic, Italian, Israeli, Turkish, French and even African traditional and folk songs are in the mix.
Tsasiken's powerful vocal arrangements are most impressive throughout, a real vocal powerhouse. Imagine Finnish top band Värttinä, famed for its strong female singers, would embark on interpreting songs from other parts of the world, and you have some idea of Tsasiken's sound (particularly the Eastern European songs reminded me of Värttinä). Yet the singers are as much at home in say a chanson or Klezmer or Gaelic style. To add additional excitement to the vocal arrangements, there's a superb backing band, ably arranged by Schäl Sick Band man Raimund Krobuth, featuring an energetic cocktail of tenor sax, guitar, percussion and bass balalaika - giving the music a most attractive contemporary folk pop/rock flavour.
This is world music at its best, and every single song is a hit. One of my surprise top 10 albums of 2015.
© Michael Moll


Karen Matheson "Urram"
Vertical, 2015

www.karenmatheson.com

Scottish singer Karen Matheson, best known as front woman of leading Scottish folk rock/pop band Capercaillie, presents on her latest solo album a collection of purely Gaelic songs, moving away from her usual blend of English and Gaelic songs to a purely Gaelic album. The album was inspired by the death of both of her parents, and Karen's decision to take a journey of discovery into her parents' and the Outer Hebrides' communities' lives.
The result is a very personal album, and very obviously a labour of love. The Gaelic songs, mostly traditional, are brought to life with Karen's beautiful crystal clear voice, in a warm and relaxed fashion. The arrangements, mostly by Karen and her husband Donald Shaw, are quite contemporary, with the piano played by Donald being the musical backbone of many of the songs. Other instruments on the album include guitar (Innes White), harmonica (Brendon Power), double bass (Ewan Vernal), acoustic and electric guitar (Sorren MacLean), bouzouki and fiddle ( Matheu Watson) and percussion (Signy Jacobsdottir), plus a guest appearance of Mr McFall's Chamber string quartet.
The tasteful contemporary arrangements suit these old waulking songs, ballads and lullabies very well while bringing them more into today's times.
© Michael Moll


Seasons "Seasons"
Own label, 2015

ww.seasonsmusic.com

Seasons is a Celtic American family folk band consisting of five Lee siblings. Their music, while clearly Celtic, takes a very distinctive and interesting dimension by its unusual instrumentation: Seasons' music is playfully arranged around a combination of harp and hammered dulcimers, joined by fiddle, mandolin and guitar/bodhran/at times second hammered dulcimer. Season presents solely original material on this album. The vocals are largely by harpist Mary-Kate Lee, they are very expressive and enthusiastic, and to my liking at times a bit too exaggerated. I am less keen on the male voice of Peter Lee on a small number of songs. But this cannot distract from the unique qualities of this band: its superb and always interesting musical arrangements which are lively yet with a beautiful and gentle touch as a result of the dominance of harp and dulcimer.
© Michael Moll


Rastaban "Arise"
Sabam/Artetra; 2015

Artist Video

www.rastaban.eu

Listening to this album without looking through the sleeve notes, I did not have a clue where to place the origins of this band. I thought I could hear Scandinavian style arrangements, Eastern European music traditions, Southern European passion - and (apart from some English and French lyrics) unfamiliar languages. I have to admit that the last place I thought of was Belgium - the county where this band and its members hail from. The only thing that might have given this a bit away, with hindsight, is the clear French accent in the English songs.
The band interprets traditional songs in a variety of languages, largely from Eastern and South Eastern Europe, plus a few of their own songs largely in English or French language. The female lead singer Marine Libert has an amazing, powerful and expressive voice which I would associate more with Southern Europe than Belgium. The arrangements meanwhile remind at times of Swedish folk rock a la Garmana; it' an exciting modern take on folk, featuring fiddle, percussion, guitars, some harp, some didgeridoo.
A surprising wonderfully heady music mix in a pretty unique style which is unusual even for the musical folk melting pot that Belgium is.
© Michael Moll


Variomatic "Wink!"
Appel Rekords, 2015

www.variomatic.be

What a wonderful CD to wake you up in the morning, to cheer you up during the day, to get you and your family up and dancing at the end of the day - music that is perfect for any time of the day.
The Belgian 6 piece band creates homemade compositions with a powerful folk rock blending Bal Folk a la Dedale with a dose of Blowzabella, and with frequent more or less obvious references to well known hits or TV tunes. The most obvious connotation of TV music on the album has to be in their "The A-Team" set - these guys must be great fans of this 80s TV institution. Variomatic's instruments create a mighty full contemporary folk sound, featuring sax, accordion, hurdy gurdy, guitar/banjo, bass and drums and percussion.
This one of those albums that should not really be missing in any good collection - it's music that makes happy and wants you to jump up and dance - as they say happiness is priceless so how can you afford not to have this album!
© Michael Moll


Jim Malcolm "Live in Perth"
Own label, 2015

www.jimmalcolm.com

Scotland's first and foremost singer/songwriter Jim Malcolm is presented on this album at his very best - in a solo concert in front of a home audience. Jim's songs come best to life when performed to an audience, so this is a wonderful follow on from his previous live album "Live in Glenfarg" - I can't quite believe that this was released already 12 years ago.
The new album features many of his greatest songs, including his version of Brian McNeill's "Lads of the Fair", the traditional songs "Jolly Beggar" and "Lochaber no more", and his very own songs "The train from Perth to Lochearn", "First Cold Day" and "Corrievrachan". There is also the usual fair dose of good humour, and I enjoyed listening to his storytelling of the amusing story "The Pickpockets" or a, somewhat political, comedy song about a member of the gentry cleaning out his moat - featuring many frogs.
Having been on the road for 30 years, Jim's new album sees him in superb voice, backed by his guitar and characterful harmonica playing. This is wonderful and classy entertainment of the old style - a singer presenting great songs with good stories to a live audience.
© Michael Moll


World Kora Trio "Un poisson dans le desert"
www.eric-longsworth.com, 2015

My first thought was that the World Kora Trio must be three Kora players - yet the trio features only one Kora, played by Cherif Soumano from Mali. The trio was initiated by France based Eric Longsworth, a classically trained violincello player. The third part of the trio is jazz percussionist David Mirandon.
The Kora is usually associated with traditional African and world music, yet in the World Kora Trio the full versatility of this instrument is showcased. The compositions by Eric and Cherif take the trio into Jazz, Folk, Classical, World and Mood Music. The musicians show in their interpretations a free spirit combining jazz improvisation with classical and world approaches.
© Michael Moll


Filippo Gambetta "Otto baffi"
Own label, 2015

www.filippogambetta.com

It is obvious from this album that Filippo Gambetta is a real master on the diatonic accordion. And even though he has for this album a whole host of guest musicians - more than 20 across the album, including his usual trio - it is his accordion that is the one and only focus of the album. Sso much so that after a first casual listening the listener may possibly only remember the accordion. The music is all composed by Filippo, but is based on traditional dances - tarantella, mazurka, Musette, polka and more.
© Michael Moll


Anne Wylie "Songs from the seas"
Own label, 2015

German CD Review

www.annewylie.com

Having lived for many a year in Germany, Irish folk singer Anne Wylie has over the years created with her all-German band a very special blend of Irish tradition and contemporary music styles. The result is as you tend to only find when you combine a traditional singer with great musicians who are not engrossed but have due respect to those traditions. This collaboration between German musicians and Anne take Irish folk into a new direction. The band is dominated by percussion, a modern sounding and often groovy electric or double bass, piano, guitars, and on some numbers some wonderful additions of uilleann pipes. The songs on the album are a mix of traditional, contemporary and self penne, and include Andrew White's "Sandragon", the traditionals "Fisher Boy" and "Blackwaterside" and an English version of traditional German song "Es sass ein wild Vögelein". Some of the songs are sparsely accompanied and showcase the simplicity and beauty of Irish traditional songs, others are much more modern arranged and take Irish folk into new directions.
© Michael Moll


Buille "Beo"
Own label, 2015

www.buille.com

If I reveal Buille's line-up, I suppose there's not much more to be said, at least for Irish folk fans: Brothers Niall and Caoimhin Vallely (concertina and piano) are joined by wonderful guitarist Ed Boyd, Brian Morrissey on bodhran and percussion and Kenneth Edge on soprano saxophone. This, Buille's third album after a recording gap of six years, offers high quality original instrumental music, based around Irish trad, but taking in jazz, contemporary classical and many other sources of inspiration. This is new Irish music, with much agility and versatility and unusual arrangements, performed by highly talented musicians. Recorded live, this versatility comes even better across.
© Michael Moll


Tarneybackle "Singing lands"
Own label, 2015

www.tarneybackle.co.uk

There is nothing particularly exciting or unique about this album - and that is exactly what makes it so appealing: it's honest good old folk singing, simply presented with guitars and percussion. The warm Scots singing and the tasteful selection of largely well known Scottish songs makes this album a treat without any gimmicks. The trio, of John Davison, Sandy Marshall and Lorna Davison, sing the likes of "What you do is what you've got", "Awa' whigs awa'", Dougie MacLeans "Singing land" or "Ploomans laddies". A wonderful and gentle album that just feels like coming home.
© Michael Moll



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