Issue 20 12/2001
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Lynn Morrison "Cave of Gold"
CDTRAX 212; 2001; Playing time: 64.20 min
Sixty minutes to fall asleep (if you need that long). That's an unfair comparison,
you complain. No, that's what is meant to be. When Scottish singer Lynn Morrison
left Scottish folk rockers Iron Horse to devote her time to motherhood she soon
found out that though I'd been singing traditional music for years, I didn't
know many of the old lullabies at all ... I soon discovered that they had been
one of the main musical strands in celtic culture. The flowing sound is
beautifully produced by Marc Duff (whistles) of Capercaillie and Canterach fame, Gregor Lowrey
(accordion) of Cantyshiels and Ceilidh Minogue, Catriona
McKay (clarsach) of Fiddlers' Bid, Rod Paul (mandolin, guitar)
of Iron Horse, Fraser Fifield
(bagpipes) of Old Blind Dogs, and Wendy Weatherby
(cello). It's no new age stuff, just an endless stream of unpretentious music.
The main purpose is sleep. Anyway for kids or the sleepless urban population.
So good night!
Kate Rusby "Little Lights"
Records; PRCD07; 2001; Playing time: 52.25 min
Yorkshire singer/songwriter Kate Rusby,
the sweetheart of English folk song, has been a shooting star. She's
made a name with The Equation,
Kathryn Roberts, and The Poozies, stormed
the folk charts with two top selling albums, and become familiar on the live
circuit (see FolkWorld review). The star
might have become a bit dim, but there's still some Little Lights shining.
Kate's stunning vocals dive deep in a sea of tranquility, sometimes swinging
and waltzing, sometimes lulling into sleep. But this angel sings devilish stories.
And when a father stabs his daughter's lover, it won't rock your children easily
into sleep. "Matt Hyland" got a new tune.
"Who will sing me lullabies" is dedicated for the late Davy Steele. Kate's own
songs fit in very well with the traditional material. No big wonder, her band
and some further help are about to impress. There's accordionists Andy
Cutting (Blowzabella, Fernhill, Two Duo's Quartet) and Mairtin O'Connor,
guitarists Ian Carr (Swåp & Two Duo's Quartet)
and John Doyle (Solas,
Eileen Ivers Band), Malcolm Stitt on bouzouki
and Tim O'Brien on mandolin,
flutist Michael McGoldrick (Toss
the Feathers, Afro Celt Sound System,
Flook!, Lunasa, Capercaillie). Last but not least, fiddle
maestro John McCusker (Battlefield
Band), centre of both Kate's music and heart. There'll be instruments
of music for to make the valleys sing. Let it be so.
Kate Rusby / Pure Records
Bruce MacGregor "101 Reasons To Do Nothing"
Label: Macmeanmna; SKYECD17; 2001; Playing time:
Scottish fiddler Bruce MacGregor is
already well-known, being founder of Blazin' Fiddles (see FW#15)
and member of Cliar (see FolkWorld
review). His debut solo recording almost exclusively features original pieces
and those of his late fiddle teacher Donald Riddell. Bruce is joined by guitarist
Jonnie Hardie (Old Blind Dogs), accordionist Phil
Cunningham, piper Finlay
MacDonald, and Cliar's singers Ingrid Henderson, Mary Ann
Kennedy, and Maggie MacDonald. Bruce's music is sensitive and graceful.
Some of the most versatile coming from Scotland in recent times. There might
be 101 reasons to do nothing, but at least one to give it a try.
M.E.Z. "The Fairies"
Label: Own Label;
2000; Playing time: 62.58 min
Of course, the Celts had been in (what's now) Hungary. Some time ago. Celtic
people occupied the Pannonian lands in the 3rd century BC, but were conquered
by the Romans. Then followed by Huns, Goths, Lombards, Avars, and finally Magyar
tribes. So here we are. Celtic tunes and singsong hadn't been heard here until
Irish music swept over Europe and reached even the remotest corner of the continent.
M.E.Z. are reputedly the first performers of traditional
Irish and Scottish music in Hungary. It's a strange mix of sometimes Eastern
flavoured tunes, pub singalongs, ballads up to folk rock. The familiar set dance
"King of the Fairies"
is deconstructed and transforms into an oriental percussion/flute piece. "The
Fairy King" resembles a whirling dervish. "Taste the Fairy" is the same tune
as "The Trooper and the Maid"
with Jethro Tullish-like reminiscenses.
The rest is folk business as usual: Donegal Danny, Dicey Reilly and the Blacksmith rove out by the rising of the moon and say farewell
to Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore.
The Full Moon Ensemble "Through Lands and Waters
Label: Own Label; 2001; Playing time:
The Full Moon Ensemble from Alabama
(not to confuse with the German Full Moon Trio) sticks
into Celtic music as it came across the Great Western Ocean from Ireland and
Britain and developed into old time music in the mountains of Appalachia. Daniel
Carwile plays a fine fiddle and gives us a selection of jigs & reels against
guitar, bass and percussion. Allison King leads on vocals on the classic traditionals
"Lakes of Pontchartrain"
and "Do You Love
an Apple?", but also some contemporary stuff from the band members backgrounds.
The group's name leaves a very poetical impression. But it's certainly a gigging
band, not a bunch of cowboys delivering ditties around the campfire when the
coyotes are howling and a full moon is shining through the clouds.
The Full Moon Ensemble
Cormac Breatnach & Martin Dunlea "Music for
Whistle & Guitar"
Label: Dioscai Mandala/Pressure; CD002; 2000;
Playing time: 50.34 min
The recording is as basic as its title. Just two plain instruments, that's everything
you need sometimes. Cormac Breatnach of Deiseal fame and yet another solo album (see FolkWorld review) plays
the whistle from the tin to the low. Cormac's "wild days" are over, or at least
put aside for a while, and he delivers an imaginative soundscape. My visual
interpretation of our music would be in the form of me driving a car, along
some flatland, out in the wilderness, the sun shining through those amazing
cloudscapes. The musical texture is light und relaxed, but exciting enough
not to end as background noise in an elevator or a restaurant. A bit jazz here
and there creates good effects. We play traditional music, but wether we
play music traditionally, is for other people to decide. Listen to the
deconstruction of the patriotic Irish ballads "The Foggy Dew" and "Down
by the Glenside" or Percy French's "Eileen
Oge". Even tradition has to be able to grow and evolve, otherwise it
belongs solely to an irrelevant and elitist group, and a bygone time. Martin Dunlea enhances Cormac's adventurous
flute playing with sensitive guitar accompaniment. I think, what Hayes & Cahill
did for the fiddle, Cormac and Martin have started for the whistle.
Cormac Breatnach, Martin
Lochshore ; CDLD1303; 2001; Playing time: 47.48 min
Canterach has been a Scottish project band around the singer Ross Kennedy for
quite a time. So you could find some music of them on Lochshore's 'Live at the
Lemon Tree' album, some time ago you could see them on tour in Germany. But
this album still is their debut album. Canterach features five of the (many)
best musicians from Scotland: Ross Kennedy on guitar and vocals is renowned
for his strong presentation of Scottish songs in wonderful broad Scots dialect;
Iain MacInnes plays his highland and small pipes and whistle also in legendary
Ossian; Rod Paul on mandolin, electric guitar and banjo has made his fame in
the early years of The Iron Horse; Steve Lawrence is one of the most skilled
multi-instrumentalists of Scotland and is without doubt one of the very best
percussionists on the Scottish scene; finally Alistair McCulloch is a young
talented fiddler. Among the guests, ex-Canterach member Angus Lyon in particular
makes a remarkable contribution on keyboards - as long as it is piano style,
it is wonderful, while the sphere keybords are at times a bit disturbing.
Featuring 5 songs and 6 sets of tunes, this is a good album, yet it is nothing
special, nothing really new. I would have maybe expected a bit more of such
a huge bunch of talent.
Trio Trad "Musiques d'Europe"
Music/Alea; WBM21026; 2001; Playing time: 63.43 min
Trio Trad is a Belgian band dedicated to traditional music from all over Europe.
With violin (Aurélie Dorzée), a second violin and at times bagpipes
(Luc Pilartz) and a diatonic accordeon (Didier Laloy), Trio Trad explores the
wealth of music traditions, travelling on this CD from Sweden and its slow and
beautiful tunes to the lively temper of Eastern Europe (Transylvania, Serbia,
Hungary etc.), from Ireland via Shetland (a lovely slow Tom Anderson tune) to
Italy. They stop over on their own doorstep with some of their self-penned tunes,
and make even a short visit to Johann Sebastian Bach (playing his Canon). On
all their stop-overs they manage to capture the essence of the regional folk
music traditions - which is a rather remarkable and shows a lot of talent and
knowledge of the traditions.
This is quite an inspiring CD, although at times the line-up of two fiddles
and an accordeon would have done well with the addition of a rhythm instrument
like a guitar to add a bit more spice to the music.
Band Homepage: www.triotrad.be
,Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jowan Merck "Amorroma - op voyage"
Music/Alea; WBM21025; 2001; Playing time: 63.19 min
Jowan Merck is another Belgian taking the pan-european road of folk music, and
inviting his listeners to join him on this journey. Being a session musician
in demand, this album is his first very own venture, yet he is joined by plenty
of his musical friends (many of them well-known on the Belgian scene). Jowan
plays recorders, wood and penny whistles, diverse bagpipes including the gaita,
and percussion. On the album he is joined by instruments such as guitars, accordeon,
harp, hurdy gurdy, fiddle etc. Yet it is always his instruments, especially
his whistles, that the music is focussed on. At times, he joins himself on a
second instrument (the wonders of recording technology...). All the tunes on
this album are composed by Jowan, inspired by his journeys and musical friends
throughout Europe. You can hear Galicia in the music, Ireland, France, Bulgaria,
maybe even Belgium. It is quite a joy to listen, and for any flute/whistle enthusiat
this CD is probably a must.
Records; CAP21648; 2001; Playing time: 60.57 min
Draupner is a young trio from Hälsingland in Northern Sweden, focussing
also musically on this region. As often in Swedish music, the central instrument
of Draupner is the fiddle: The line-up features two fiddlers (Henning Andersson
and Görgen Antonsson) and a guitarist/mandolist (Tomas Lindberg). It is
quite obviously that you have to love fiddle music to fully enjoy this album.
We hear on Draupner's debut CD mainly polskas, they are either traditional,
written by well-known Swedish fiddlers or written by band members. The music
has always the thoughtful, calm and a bit dark atmosphere that is so typical
for Swedish music. Draupner's skillful and intimate playing has even attracted
the highest ranks of Sweden: In autumn 1998, Draupner were invited to play polskas
for the Swedish King and Queen at the opening of the Swedish parliament.
E-mail Caprice Records: email@example.com
, distribution: CDA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis "Legacy
of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 1"
(Greentrax); CUL118D; 2001; Playing time: 59.50 min
The collaboration of fiddler Alasdair Fraser and pianist Paul Machlis is one
of pure beauty and passion. Alasdair is probably the finest Scottish fiddler
of today, and there seems to be no more appropriate, more perfect instrument
to contribute to his fiddling than a piano - at least if it is played by a real
master such as Paul Machlis. Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis have played together
since the early eighties; their playing together is highly imaginative, very
intimate and exact.
This recording, the first of a series, features classic tunes from13 of Scotland's
finest composers of the past (such as Niel Gow, Captain Simon Fraser or James
Scott Skinner), added by a few traditional tunes. Most of the tunes are quiet
and calm, full of peaceful beauty. All tunes are perfectly presented, with a
lot of feeling and skill. I really did enjoy this album.
Alasdair Fraser's Website: www.alasdairfraser.com
The kitchen girls "In your dreams"
kg002; 2001; Playing time: 62.17 min
The kitchen girls are six women from the UK who play American folkmusic on string
instruments. Main ingredients for this kitchen recipe are: four violins, one
cello, one acoustic guitar and five voices. For the first course called Benton's
dream we mix the strings lightly and make sure that the violins make us feel
comfortable and happy. Once are settled we enjoy Sandy river belle that gives
us time to relax and enjoy with our eyes closed, such a delicate taste with
just a wee-bit of cello to finish it off. To make a bit room for the main courses
the band comes in and starts playing the I'm walking song. The voices sound
like they have been recorded in the forties record and sound very nostalgic.
Than the cook called for the main courses and the table got filled with nine
other nice tunes. Friendly jig's like Moulton jig light salted ballads like
wildflowers and a bit sweet tasting waltz called Ook pik waltz What a delightful
meal these kitchen girls cooked for us.
Band Homepage: www.kitchengirls.co.uk
Jean Baron and Christian Anneix "Dansou tro
m312; 2001; Playing time: 52.57 min
Jean Baron and Christian Anneix recorded a new Breiz cd called Dansou tro breiz.
Music for bombarde and biniou koz, a beautiful bagpipe. Both musicians are master
on their instruments and that can be heard on this strong traditional cd. The
tunes all come from Bretagne and a small map in the booklet shows from which
area in Bretagne the tunes originally come from. The booklet shows a lot more
than this. Besides information about each tune it also tells you how to dance
on the music they play. Unfortunately there is not any English translation so
you must be able to read French or take a very good look at the drawings. This
cd is recommended to everybody who likes the sound of bombarde and the biniou
ize "Double nationalite"
362223; 2000; Playing time: 55.39 min
Ize comes from the Cape-verde and lives in France at this moment. His cd Double
nationalite is a mix of the two languages and cultures. He tries to mix rap
music with the traditional Sodade that is so typical for the Cape-verde. The
sound of the album is relaxed and the sound mostly reminds me of France. Only
songs like Double nacionalidade and L'escale interlude have a strong Cape-verde
sound. The other songs have a touch of this beautiful culture but seem to be
more influenced by the French rap music. I like the two extra hiphop remixes
of the songs Ma volonte and Ferro gaita they have a bit more power than the
other songs and are a welcome variation. Overall Ize created a balanced and
strong cd. Well-produced and made with care.
Ar Log "Ar Log I- III"
Sain; SCD 2303; 2001 (1976-1981); Playing
time: 73.08 min
Welsh folk music is probably the least well-known of the Celtic traditions these
days, undeservedly so. Ar Log is one of the most enduring exponents of the genre,
having celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2001. A welcome opportunity to make
some of the back catalogue widely available once more by way of this 21-track
compilation CD from their first three albums.
Ar Log then consisted of the brothers Dafydd und Gwyndaf Roberts (playing clarsach,
triple harp, knee-harp, flutes/whistles and banjo between them) with a singer-guitarist
(initially Dave Burns, later Geraint Glynne Davies) and fiddler (initially Iolo
Jones, later Graham Pritchard), one of whom frequently switches to the mandolin
as well. They play a mix of carefully arranged Welsh songs and tunes which are
a joy to listen to and make great background music as well. It's astonishing
that they aren't more widely popular. An essential purchase, not just but especially
for harp fans.
Jeff Talmadge "Bad Tattoo"
Label: Bozart Records; 1004; 2001; Playing
time: 44.24 min
Jeff Talmadge is a relatively low-voiced Texan singer-songwriter who names Townes
Van Zandt and John Stewart as his main influences. This is his third recording.
He is backed by up to six musicians, on backing vocals, additional guitars (including
slide), bass, percussion (but never drum kit), and occasional harmonica, violin
and accordion. As this suggests, the album has a strongly acoustic feel throughout.
The songs are interesting and well-written. A much-better-than-average recording
in the extensive American singer-songwriter genre. Check out the three wav-files
on his homepage!
Jeff Talmadge website
Coope Boyes & Simpson with Wak Maar Proper"Christmas
Truce / Kerstbestand"
Label: No Masters;
NMCD 14; 1999; Playing time: 60.23 min
English a capella trio Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson should need
no introduction; they teamed up with the up to 60-strong Flemish choir Wak Maar
Proper ("damp but clean", after their rehearsal room) for a series
of Peace Concerts in Flanders in 1998 and 1999, which are documented in these
fine live recordings of carols and songs inspired by the temporary truce in
trenches on the Western Front during Christmas 1914 (World War One). The carefully
compiled booklet (in English and Flemish) explains the historical background
and the origins of the songs.
Christmas music of a different kind, and highly recommended. The singing is
wonderful, making the album a must-buy for anyone who has ever sung in a choir
or likes listening to them.
More info, Tel. +44
1709 375063; Fax +44 1709 327164
Francis & the Bacon Boys "Bringing
Home the Bacon"
Label: Combi Sound; CSCD 4541.2; 2000; Playing
time: 49.16 min
Belfast-born singer-guitarist Francis McCreesh is based in Denmark, and his
Bacon Boys are Arne Keller on fiddle and banjo, Lars Kirkegaard on accordion
and a rhythm section of stand-up bass (Jens Holgersen) and drums (Esben Munch
Laursen). If you can imagine a cross between early Toss the Feathers (McCreesh's
singing strongly reminds me of Eddie Sheehan's), The Saw Doctors, Goats Don't
Shave and MaCavity's Cat (for the faster, country-tinged numbers), you're getting
a fairly good idea of what they sound like.
The album includes a number of Irish Pub circuit standards - covers of "Caledonia",
"The Town I Loved So Well", "Bad Moon Rising" and, oh horror,
a Danish-language "Wild Rover" - alongside a couple of McCreesh originals
and tune sets. The playing is tight and competent, except for the clomping tune
set "Sorte Kasper / Cat's Branle", where Keller switches to bagpipes
and guitar, Kirkegaard to electric bass - a mistake!
The cover picture apparently shows a beached whale - I wonder what they're trying
to tell us there?
More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 -
Page 3 - Page 4 - Page
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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