Issue 19 8/2001
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Gert de Meijer "Behind the Dunes"
Label: Acoustic Music Records; 319.1214.2
42; 2000; Playing time: 39.28 min
Donegal fiddler John Doherty put it once: "The old musicians in them days
would take music from anything. They would take music from the sound of the sea
..." Do you wonna know how the Netherlands sound? Dutch guitar player Gert
de Meijer reveals a picturesque soundscape. The ease of summer and the tranquility
of winter in Zeeland. Dreams go passing by. The waves are crashing against the
dunes and the storm is rising.
Acoustic Music Records
Ray Hearne "Broad Street Ballads"
Label: No Masters; NMCD17; 2001; Playing time:
Ray Hearne, born
in Rotherham of Irish parents, tries to bring together South Yorkshire speech
and Irish melody. "Broad Street Ballads" are
supposed to be "songs with a meaning in the end" and "give voice
to communal dreams and aspirations, to personal visions and melancholies."
Ray composed lyrical ballads, some set to traditional (Irish) tunes, placed
in his native countryside. He found careful and sensible help by jazz saxophonist
Tim Garland, melodeon player Luke Daniels , Uilleann piper Steafan Hannigan (Sin E), bass player
Martin Allcock (Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention), and vocalists
Jo Freya, Barry
Coope and Jim Boyes. "Never leave a single story unsung," is Ray's
credo. Rother Sing a Don Song!
No Masters Co-operative Limited
Shoormal "Indigo Skies"
Label; ebb 285; 2000; Playing time: 50.34 min
Thinking about the Shetland Islands you might think of cool fiddle music and
traditional Gaelic singing. Maybe Rock, Salt and Nails and Fiddler's
Bid came to your attention before. But pop has even reached these remote
shores. Freda Leask, Joyce McDill and Donna Smith create a fine three-part harmony.
Add guitar player Trevor Smith, piano and accordion player Gregg Arthur, double
bass player May Gair (who performed with the likes of Aly Bain, Willie Hunter and
Violet Tulloch, Catriona MacDonald), drummer Christopher
Anderson (Bongshang) and fiddler Emma Johnston
(Rock Salt & Nails). That
yields Shoormal's folk pop. There's
nothing special indigenous about "Indigo Skies", but you can sip
on your Bacardi and enjoy the summer.
Magic Car "Yellow Main Sequence"
Label: Tiny Dog Records; TDR003; 2001; Playing time:
The yellow main sequence star tries to break through the clouds covering Northampton.
Perhaps Phil Smeeton and Hazel Atkinson have a drink at their local boozer,
The Star, and draw inspiration from the characters drinking their lives away.
There's a lonesome country feel from Old England. It's rather rain than sun,
but everyone is at ease. Certainly, Magic Car is no shooting
star, but it makes the sky a little bit brighter.
Tiny Dog Records
F.B.A. "Till The Sky Shall Fall"
Label: M.A.P.; CCD870; 2000; Playing time: 62.06 min
Tunes from every Celtic area you can think of: "La Jument de Mich aud", Dan ar Braz's
Steeleye's "All Around My Hat", jigs, reels, strathspeys, morris, a
piece by John Dowland, a Galician
carol. Everything's passed through the Italian grinder to give it a special
flavour, that's F.B.A.. Furthermore, "The Trees They Grow High"
is sung in Italian and the eight piece "folk orchestra" offers plenty of variety.
There's the usual suspects plus some cello, lute, "piffero" (a shawn-type wind instrument)
and "baghet" (the bagpipes
of the Bergamo valleys).
Raven Music; A001; 2001; Playing time: 66.49 min
their name from king Nuada of the Tuatha De Danaan,
are Chris (mandolin,
bouzouki, vocals) and Lisa Burbick (guitar) plus jazz
musicians Doug Heydon (bass)
and Mike Fitch (drums).
The traditional Irish dance tunes are carefully arranged. Chris plays first-class
mandolin and has a gift for catchy songs with a traditional feel (think of a
kind of Jamie McMenemy with original
songs). A silver hand and throat, indeed.
Laughing Raven Music
Rag Foundation "South By Southwest" (EP)
Label: Ty Bach; TBCD 001; 2001; Playing time:
If Wales is anything, it's the best kept secret of all those Celtic countries.
But there's a rich tradition of instrumental music (remember Crasdant), English and Welsh
language songs (Carreg Lafar, Ysdryd Chouchen), and harpers
(Robin Huw Bowen,
William Taylor). Unlike
the emperor who's going naked, Rag Foundation from Swansea even don't
appear in rags. Traditional songs are dressed up in the latest fashion. Rag
Foundation's debut "Minka" has been celebrated
as groundbreaking for Welsh folk. The trio of Neil Woollard (vocals), Richard
Cowell (guitar) and Kate Ronconi (fiddle, crwth) has been expanded now for
the EP "South By Southwest"
with a rhythm section to turn the tradition into sexy pop music. Wales must
not hide in the shadows of the Celtic neighbours, there's more to discover than
coal and rugged hills.
Bluehorses "Dragons, Milk and Coal"
Spirit; NSBH CD003; 1999; Playing time: 68.09 min
Mistrust the opening plucks of the Celtic harp! The Welsh dragon comes roaring
and spitting fire. Bluehorses is driven by the wild
electric fiddles of Liz Prendergast and Emily Grainger, backed by a tight rhythm
section of drums, bass and electric guitar. "Dragons, Milk and Coal"
is a bit more controlled, sophisticated and matured than their debut "Cracking
Leather, Skin & Bone", but still untamed. The crashing songs let not only
tap your feet, but bring the house down. Furthermore, there's an awesome reworking
of the old Scottish ballad "Barbara Allen", a morris
set, the passionate "Mining Song", and a "secret track" displaying a sense of
humour. It's not so secret anyway, and Bluehorses should be no secret at all.
Wild Welsh Women "Isle of Môn"
Label: Airheart Music; A001; 2000; Playing
time: 52.29 min
Wild Welsh Women are 100% Welsh,
but only 50% women. It's mother and daughter Rozi Morris and Tamzin Powell,
maturing their harmonies "in a way that only genetically linked voices can".
Fiddler Sian Phillips,
Rob Morris (accordion, guitar, mandolin), Matt Powell (guitar) and Jon Attree
(bass) add to a mixture of mostly contemporary songs: "Turning
Away", "Be lls
of Rhymney", "Heart
Like a Wheel", "Bring 'em All In" (the album's highlight), and the traditional
"Bonnie Bunch of Roses".
Four self-penned ballads fit in perfectly. A set of schottishes and two reels
are thrown in for good measure. That's the wildest bits of the party. "Isle of Môn" is aptly
named after the Isle of Anglesey
situated off the Welsh coast and gives a good metaphor: "You will find beaches
galore, attractions to suit everyone's tastes, places to explore, places to
relax and places to fill your days with interest and knowledge."
Wild Welsh Women
Discs; WHRL 006; 2001; Playing time: 65.38 min
Is there someting left to write about Dervish? Like the whirling dancers of the East
you can go wild and spin in circles till you drop. "Decade" offers a representative
cross-section through, you guess it, ten years of a busy schedule (apart from
the debut "Boys of Sligo" then without singer Cathy Jordan): jigs and reels
and Gaelic and English ballads. Like every collection you miss something (I
personally regret that "Josephine's Waltz" comes without "I Courted a Wee Girl").
So I would like to say: Forget this one and buy them all records! But it can
be a good start anyway.
La Lionetta "Ottoni & Settimini"
Ethnosuoni;ES5306; 2000; Playing time: min
If this album would have arrived earlier on, I am sure it would have found its
way into the top of the Top 10 2000 - that impressed I am of La Lionetta. Wonderful
happy innovative and open minded New Folk music, as fresh as it can come only
from Italy (at least that's what it seems looking at recent European folk music
releases). Founded already back in 1977, FolkWorld heard of them only with this
CD - but better late than never!
Taking Northern Italian folk music as starting point, La Lionetta creates their
very own blend of music styles, full of power and life. Central in the band's
sound stands often the accordion, sometimes whistles, violin or Italian bagpipes.
The tuba, grooving always along to the music, gives the band some of the uniqueness.
Along to that all innovative percussion as well as guitar and mandolin accompaniment.
And so many more instruments, to many to be listed all. Two lead singers has
this six piece band, both being strong enough, and the singing style ranges
from more recital like singing to chorus singing with the other lads. The material
of La Lionetta is to a big extent self composed, if it is not traditional.
In live, La Lionetta must be an extraordinary experience; the power and liveliness
of this band is already well kept on the CD. This is absolutely superb music
of talented musicians bringing their fun of playing well into the music. I simply
love this album, finding again and again and again its way into the CD player.
A definite MUST.
Margaret Bennett "In the sunny long ago"
stompin records; cdfsr1708.; 2001
Margaret Bennet was born at the Isles of Skye and Lewis in a family where music
was alive. She moved to New-Foundland in her twenties and stayed there for nine
years also enjoying the strong folk tradition of this region. On this cd In
the sunny long ago she tries to recreate these old days. The songs she used
to sing with her family while working in and around the house. Some songs are
well known. Bonnie bunch of thyme, for example, has been sung by many artists.
Her version is sweet and fragile and sounds like a sleeping song. The Scottish
traditional Ailean Ailean has a strong a-cappella version that is followed by
the Aye waukin o that has been originally written by Robert Burns. In the sunny
long ago is a very friendly cd that makes me listen with a smile and a bit of
sadness in my heart.
foot stompin records
Lino Straulino "I dis and Cjaule male"
Label: Nota; cd2.34 and cd 2.35.; 1998
The Italian singer/guitar player Lino Straulino has according to his manager
a break in his musical career at this moment, so I got two older cd's for review:
I dis and cjaule male both recorded in 1998. I dis is only Straulino singing
and his guitar. A sober record with friendly sounding songs brought in a professional
and sensitive way. I think these songs need a listner who understands the Italian
language, I miss the capability of understanding his songs and I have the feeling
that this might be a big lost for me. His other cd Cjaule male is more powerful.
He starts with S'al sara , a great introduction and fine guitar sound. He got
help from two extra musicians and this gives his music more body. There happens
more and It keeps my attention longer than his I dis record. Two friendly cd's
in the singer-songwriter style with a nice Southern touch.
A Quadrant "No boot!"
Label: Own; 2001
Managers of concert-halls asking to hear what kind of music they play and the
audience asking for cd's after their concerts, made this new Dutch group A Quadrant
decide to record their first, seven songs long, cd called: No boot. Three musicians
playing songs from artists such as Iain Matthews and Welch and Ferrar. They
did not record this on a small attic with terrible equipment but used a studio
to make sure their cd would not only have quality music but also a quality sound.
And except for a bit of disturbing echo in Raider they did a good job. They
managed to record seven nice songs and with respect to the originals they gave
their own sound to the music. The vocals are fine although I have the feeling
that in Lion and the lamb the vocalist is a bit faster than the guitar and accordion.
It's the squeeeeze boxes must be southern Dutch dialect for accordionthat adds
something extra to the songs. Make it more alive or gives it an extra tension
as in Faithfull. A nice debut cd that is worth to listen to. Only available
at the following adress: firstname.lastname@example.org,
this is also the contact for booking information.
Vince Brophy "Stronger than you know"
Label: Own; VB29304; 2001
The fourth CD of Australian singer/songwriter Vince Brophy focusses strongly
on his own compositions, telling many stories in his songs. As in his earlier
albums, also on "Stronger than you know" the Australian-Irish sings
a lot about emigration, as well as about coming back to Ireland. Some of the
songs are very personal, like about his trip and his feelings to Ireland; these
songs show partly a mystified image of his home country. The strongest are the
two songs about convicts sent to Australia from Ireland, "Stronger than
you know" and "Kiss the Child". Along to his own songs, Vince
sings the traditional and much too often heard "Star of the County Down"
in a rather lovely version and plays a set of trad tunes. As often in Irish
Australian and Irish American music, there is a slight country influence in
the music. The songs have usually a pleasant melody and a catchy chorus. Vince
is accompanied on the album by a few very good musicians, on guitars/piano/mandolin/drums,
fiddle, accordion, bass, whistles etc., yet it is always Vince Brophy with voice
and guitar in the clear focus of the sound.
A pleasant CD of a singer/songwriter to look out for.
Vince Brophy's Homepage
WIN VINCE BROPHY CDS!
Vince Brophy offered us two CDs for a CD competition. You can win them by just
telling us which CD review in this issue inspired you the most to possibly buy
the CD. All entries count; one per person please. Answers until 20.11.2001 to
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