Issue 26 10/2003

FolkWorld CD ReviewsDog

Fênix "eu, causa e efeito"
Label: Traumton Records; CD4461; 2002
An enjoyable CD, yet very difficult to pigeonhole. Fênix is a Brazilean singer and composer. He has an attractive and sensitive, yet very feminine voice and singing style. Stylistically he moves between many different styles: Pop, World, Salsa, Brazilean, Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, Classical, Varieté. Accompanied by instruments such as violins, piano, accordion, percussion, bass, cello, flutes and on the first title also brass instruments, he weaves a beautiful soundscape around his voice. Most of the songs are in Brazilean language, completed by two English songs, one written by Fênix, the other Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street".
An album creating a beautiful warm and relaxed atmosphere, with music without stylistic borders. Wonderful for a romantic evening...
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:, contact to label:
Michael Moll

Various Artists "Let Scotland Flourish - The bright young stars of Scottish traditional music"
Label: Footstompin/Tartan Tapes; No.CDFSR1718; 2003
The Scottish tourist market is large, so why not offer some decent music for the tourists? "Let Scotland Flourish" is a compilation showcasing the CD catalogue of Foot Stompin Records, the record label run by concertina wizard Simon Thoumire. The compilation makes pleasant listening, and provides a broad range of Scottish music, from very traditional to modern. The focus is on Scotland's young traditional music scene - bands and musicians include Cantrip, Back of the Moon, Fine Friday, Emily Smith, Keep it up, Croft No. Five, Corrina Hewat, Finlay MacDonald. Liz Doherty and Claire Mann bring some Irish dimension into the album, while I am sure Margaret Bennet will be flattered to be among the "bright young stars" of Scottish traditional music. Only criticism of the album is the sparse information about the acts represented.
A great souvenir for Scotland tourists, giving a great introduction into quality Scottish music. And not only tourists will enjoy this album; I am sure that many folk fans will make quite a few discoveries with this album.
Michael Moll

Angus Lyon & Ruaridh Campbell "Simple Tricks"
Label: KRL/Lochshore; No. CDLD1310; 2003
This is a highly inspiring CD of Scottish instrumental folk music at its very best. Angus and Ruaridh are two excellent young musicians, with a lot of feeling and passion for their music. Angus plays on this album piano and accordions, while Ruaridh plays violin and viola. The two give each other plenty of room to showcase their skills, yet their playing together is rather perfect. Both also compose music in the traditional style; in fact their own compositions are the highlights of this album. To help them a bit out, some guests appear on the album, most notably Fraser Spiers with his distinctive harmonica playing.
A brilliant album of traditional Scottish music with that special twist which makes it exciting and memorable.
Michael Moll

Birkin Tree "3(three)"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8059; 2003
Irish Folk at its very best from this four piece band, with a beautiful and skilfully played blend of flute, uillean pipes/whistle, fiddle/guitar and piano/sax/keys. "3(three)" is based on traditional tunes from Ireland, mixed with a few contemporary compositions from Irish and Italian composers, mainly in traditional style. The tunes are a balanced mixture of fast and gentle quiet tunes. The music gets its distinctiveness particularly from the exciting use of piano and sax in traditional tunes.
The music speaks for itself, and there is no indication (other than the musicians' names) that this band is not of Irish origin, but actually based in Italy. Birkin Tree's high quality music is already reputed in the Irish musicians' scene, and the band managed to convince two great Irish singers, Niamh Parsons (with "Carrickfergus") and Cyril o'Donoghue ("The foxy devil") to guest on this recording for one song each.
A discovery, well worth to check out for all Irish music fans!
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:, contact to label:
Michael Moll

Lisa Ekdahl "Heaven, Earth and beyond"
Label: BMG France; No. 74321 973082; 2002
Swedish Jazz/pop/roots singer Lisa Ekdahl ventured in her last albums into Bossa Nova music, due to her personal and musical relationship to Bossa Nova guitarist and composer Salvadore Poe. This album is a compilation of music from recent years plus a few previously unreleased tracks. It only includes Lisa's English carreer phase; no songs are in Swedish (which is a bit of a shame). The music is at its best, in my taste, when it is close to Bossa Nova; however, quite a few songs are jazzy. The selection includes some Jazz classics, such as "It's oh so quiet" and "My Heart belongs to Daddy" - and no doubt other Jazz singers have performed better in these songs. I really enjoyed her recent album "sings Salvadore Poe" (reviewed in issue 20); compared to that, this compilation, I have to say, sounds very weak and commercial.
Homepage of the artist:
Michael Moll

The Poozies "Changed days, same roots"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX249; 2003; Playing time: 53.27 min
The Poozies these days have the reputation as one of the top acts of the Celtic music scene. The band's first decade saw two of the most well-known singers of the English folk scene fronting the band - starting off with the folk pop/rock singer Sally Barker, the Poozies continued with young folk star Kate Rusby. When Kate left, they replaced their lead singer with Eilidh Shaw, who did not provide a singer/songwriter role, yet could offer great Scottish fiddle playing and a little bit of singing. Their current line-up comprises of Eilidh and the three original members, Karen Tweed (piano accordion) Patsy Seddon (electro-harp, clarsach, fiddle, vocals) and Mary MacMaster (electro-harp, clarsach, fiddle and vocals).
The focus of the band has, obviously, gone slightly away from singing, and completely from songwriting. Still, there are five songs - two Gaelic ones, one in Polish (!) and two in English. One of the English songs is sung by Eilidh, whoused to have no reputation in singing, but does really well. Yet, for me, the Poozies' strength is definitely in instrumental music, with a beautiful blend of harp, accordion and fiddle sounds. Compared to earlier albums, the overall sound of The Poozies has become slightly more traditional and Celtic.
Days have changed, yet the roots have indeed remained the same - the Poozies still play innovative folk music full of ideas based on Celtic themes.
Michael Moll

Felpeyu "Yá!"
Label: Tierra Discos; No. TDCD001; 2003
Felpeyu is one of the better known excellent bands from Asturias, the neighbouring region to Galicia in Northern Spain. Stylistically, Felpeyu's music is quite similar to that of fellow Asturians, Llan de Cubel, representing a typical Asturian folk music style.
Instrumentally, the focus of the music is often on the Asturian gaita (bagpipes), yet Felpeyu have a range of excellent instrumentalists, on 2 fiddles, accordion, bass/guitar, bodhrán and bouzouki/guitar. The tunes all have a typical and very pleasant Asturian feeling about them, quite distinctive even from the music from neighbouring Galicia. Five of the 12 titles on this CD are songs, sung in a rather soft yet attractive way.
A beautiful showcase album of Asturian music, music that might not be breathtaking as such, but is still highly attractive in its natural and true way.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Michael Moll

El Nombre "Poetry of Rhythm"
Label: Own; Demo-CD; 2002
El Nombre, based in Merseyside in England, base their music on Flamenco, but combine it with Indian and contemporary music. The central figure of the band is the Flamenco guitarist, Daniel Cortés. He is joined by two tabla players, Parvinder Bharat and Harprit Sahota, as well as bass guitarist Tobias Fleischer. This multicultural line-up creates interesting music crossing plenty of boundaries, whilst always referring to Flamenco music. The tablas blend well into the Flamenco style.
This 7-track demo album gives an overview of the band's programme. It is featuring, additional to the core band, also a Flamenco singer, Juan Antonio Hildago. For my personal taste, the music gets a bit much after a while, particularly due to the combined tablas and Flamenco guitar. Still, I appreciate this as an exciting musical venture.
Contact to artist:
Michael Moll

Danny Guinan & red "live"
Label: Fingerprint Music/dbproductions; No. FP4; 2003
Danny Guinan's last CD, "If I was wise", was selected by the FolkWorld editors as second best CD of the year 2002 (see issue 25). This live album proves that Danny and his Dutch band Red can also produce similarly attractive music in live.
Danny has created over the last decade his own style of Irish folk pop, in a very accessible and exciting way. His carreer started with the excellent but underrated band Speranza; the Dutch band Red is basically the follow-up project to Speranza. Red features some of the best Celtic musicians of the Dutch scene, including Ronald De Jong (double bass), Siard de Jong (fiddle, bouzouki, mandolin) and Onno Cuipers (accordion), plus percussion and guitars.
This live album presents five songs from the CD "If I was wise", as well as a welcome return of the Speranza hit "Before I'm 30", a couple of wild instrumental tunes (including "the flintstone set" with the Flintstones title song!!), and with "Yesterday's here" a completely different side of Speranza, more based on Blues. Overall, the songs come over in a more rough, natural and party style than the studio songs on "If I was wise". Some numbers, particularly the finishing number "nuns 'n guns", are very reminiscent of the early and wild Speranza times, reminding me of Speranza's cracking very first tape with its shrill and wild sound.
This is a great and convincing album full of attractions, and for fans definitely an essential addition to the CD collection.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist and label:
Michael Moll

North Cregg "Summer at my feet"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX250; 2003
Another high profile addition to the Scottish Greentrax label, North Cregg have a reputation as an energetic and hard working Irish traditional band. The musical quality and power of North Cregg's performance is easily proved by the fact that Greentrax' record boss Ian Green was "totally knocked out by North Cregg" when he saw them at the famous Tønder Festival - and Ian needs some convincing to be impressed by Irish bands!
New to the talented bunch of musicians is with Fiona Kelleher a very fine singer, with beautiful clear voice. "Summer at my feet" features 5 songs sung by Fiona, mostly in English language. The remaining 7 numbers present North Cregg as the energetic instrumental band that has made them famous. Always central to the music is accordionist Christy Leahy, joined by the skilled musicians Ciarán Coughlan (piano, harmonium), Paul Meehan (banjo, guitar, mandolin), Caoimhin Vallely (fiddle, piano) and Martin Leahy (drums, percussion).
With the addition of a brill singer, North Cregg have achieved what was still missing for them to be rather perfect. What a superb addition to the Greentrax catalogue!
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Michael Moll

Annbjørg Lien "Aliens Alive"
Label: Grappa; No. GRCD4178; 2002
Annbjørg Lien is probably the internationally best known Norwegian folk artists, and she has the perfect assets as such - she not only plays superb music, she is also young and pretty. Annbjørg plays the Hardanger fiddle, a unique Norwegian instrument with a stunningly beautiful sound.
"Aliens Alive" is a live CD of Annbjørg and her band. It presents a very wide range of music styles, from traditional via new age and programming to exciting folk rock. Annbjørg is joined on the album by, among others, the brilliant Väsen guitarist Roger Tallroth, Bjørn Ole Rasch on keyboards and samples, Hans Frederik Jacobson, a great flautist. Apart from these, you will find percussion and some vocals on the album
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this album - it has its most impressive moments, with beautiful and inspirational music. This is in particular when the Hardanger fiddle is in the centre of the music. At other (more seldom) times, when the music becomes too experimental based on programming or goes too much towards New Age, I have my doubts about it.. Still, for me, the pleasing moments definitely weigh out the in my opinion weaker ones.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:, contact to label:
Michael Moll

Christy O Leary & Bert Deivert "Song's sweet caress"
Label: Own; HDCD01; 2003
An album from Sweden, even though both musicians are not of Swedish origin. Christy O Leary from Kerry, Ireland, became famous on the Celtic scene as long term member of the Boys of the Lough. Bert Deivert is a guitarist with US American background. Both musicians are currently resident in Sweden, and have started to play together. "Song's sweet caress" is the result of this collaboration.
Christy has a beautiful, warm and calm voice, singing traditional Irish songs. He is also an extraordinary uilleann piper and whistle player. Bert accompanies him on guitars and bouzouki. The album presents a beautiful collection of mainly traditional Irish songs and tunes, played by two highly skilled musicians.And for those who are more collecting records than CDs: Song's Sweet Caress is the first CD by a major Irish traditional artist completely recorded and produced in Sweden.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:,
Michael Moll

Corrina Hewat "My favourite Place"
Label: Footstompin/Tartan Tapes; No.CDFSR1719; 2003
Corriana Hewat forms half of the successful Scottish folk jazz duo Bachue, with pianist David Milligan. "My favourite Place" is Corrina's first solo venture.
She is an excellent and imaginative harpist, as well as a sensuous singer with a delightful voice. Her music is full of ideas and improvisation, with its own distinctive style of swinging folk. The five songs on this album have all some potential to stay for quite a while in the listeners head, each of them yet being very different. The traditional "Sheath and knife" as an exciting swing to it; "The Banks of The Nile", another traditional, is sung in a very traditional a capella style. A terrificly beautiful version of Robert Burns "Ae Fond Kiss", the jazzy song "When I dream" and finally Corrina's impressive song "A raft of oak". Apart from the songs, there are plenty of tunes, again with lots of improvisation on the electroharp, and in their very own distinctive style.
Corrina is skilfully joined by David Milligan on piano, Donald Hay on drums and Malinky's Karine Polwart on backing vocals. A beautiful album full of moods, blue, swinging, thougtful, cheerful, romance...
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Michael Moll

Joseph Cormier & J.P. Cormier "Velvet Arm Golden Hand"
Label: Patio Records; PR002; 2002
An album that brings the traditional Cape Breton house parties to life - this is fresh and spontaneous music, full of enthusiams and joy. The album combines studio recorded tunes with recordings from a session, yet all have a live atmosphere. This is the first album that sees J.P Cormier performing together with his uncle, Joseph Cormier. Both play the violin, J.P. also plays piano, guitar, bass etc. They are joined by Hilda Chasson-Cormier on piano, and in the three live session numbers also by Gervais Cormier and Gelas Gelarde, both guitar. The love of playing together comes clearly through in the interplay between Joseph and J.P.
A top quality album of Cape Breton fiddle music, in the most traditional way.
Contact to label:
Michael Moll

Salsa Celtica "El Agua de la Vida"
Label: Greentrax; No. CDTRAX250; 2003; Playing time 46.37
This album is great fun, full of lively and happy music. Salsa Celtica are a sensational band mixing Salsa with Scottish traditional music themes. The line-up is a combination of some top Scottish folk musicians (Fraser Fifield - sax, pipes, whistle, Kenny Fraser and Christ Stout - both fiddle), a loud brass section (saxes, trumpets), salsa percussion (bongos, congas) plus bass and a salsa singer, Lino Rocha. Overall, on this album, the salsa influence is stronger than the Celtic dimension; a salsa version of Auld Lang Syne is the most Scottish element. Yet the combination of brass with folk instruments is magnificent, and the band is full of ideas how to make the music even more exciting.
The ultimate CD for a hot evening of superb music!
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Michael Moll

Panta Rhei "StriDes"
Label: Wildboar; No. WBM21037; 2003
As one of the many bands of the new Belgian folk scene, Panta Rhei combines six magnificent musicians with a love for experimenting. For my taste, Panta Rhei are at their best with their full instrumentation, and when staying closer to traditional music, with the experimenting not too much at the centre of the music. I love the first few numbers of the album - the first is based on Romanian dances and has a very lively flair, "Polskapal" is a beautiful and exciting interpretation of the Swedish Polska. Triptiek starts in a slow manner, but moves over to a very lively tune. I love the interwoven playing of flute and accordion in Polskapal; in other numbers, the saxophone adds an exciting element to the music. The other instruments of Panta Phei are cello, guitar, perccussion and double bass.
Their range of music is trly trans-European, with tunes based on Scandinavian, Eastern European, French, Irish music. A lot of the music is either individually interpreted or composed by band members. Some of the tunes are for my taste too experimental. Still, there is plenty to enjoy in this music. An inspiring album.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Michael Moll

Riccardo Tesi & Maurizio Geri "Acqua Foco E Vento"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8060; 2003
This album presents the song traditions of a distinctive small region in Italy, encompassing the Pistoian mountains and Lower Tuscany. With Riccardo Tesi and Maurizio Geri, this project has two highly talented musical directors, with a keen interest of bringing old Italian traditions to life, in a new make-up.
Riccardo, the excellent melodeon player, has put together this project, working in close co-operation with singer and guitarist Maurizio Geri, who plays also in Riccardo's Banditaliana. Other musicians involved in this great CD project play sax, cello, double bass, frame drums, piano/keyboards, percussion. Some songs see Maurizio duetting with the beautiful female voice of Anna Granata. The album features 18 traditional Tuscan songs, usually centred on the warm and pleasant voice of Maurizio, but with exciting arrangements breathing new and fresh life into the old songs.
This is one of those albums that grows onto you when listening to it again and again - probably, because some of the arrangements are rather complex. I am now at a stage of loving this album, listening to it again and again, falling for the charming spell that this music has in it, and discovering each time new details. So an album not only of cultural interest, but also highly enjoyable.
Two things still left to mention - the European Union has co-funded this music project with LEADER II money, to support the development and promotion of local culture. And finally, the booklet is full of information, in a good layout. Recommended.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:, contact to label:
Michael Moll

Various Artistes: "Milagro Acustico"
Label: Tinder Records; CD861082; 2002; Playing time: 49:17 mins
Gosh, this proved a difficult album to review. So difficult I almost returned it to the Editors with a request that they re-assign it. And no doubt by the time they finish reading this, the artistes involved in the making of this CD will wish I had!
But I did not because I figured that anything less than an honest review from me would be a dereliction of duty on my part. So here goes:
This is a very unusual album. Bob Salmieri whose "baby" it is (and who wrote the music and lyrics on all the tracks, bar one) took two years to gather the guest artistes for this album. And they include some big names from the World Music scene.
The idea is (and I quote) " to tell some of the numerous stories listened to in the Café di lu Furestiero, a small imaginary pub in a border village on a small Sicilian island where emigrants, immigrants, pilgrims and travellers of all sorts stop before going their way towards other destinations. Sort of imaginary journey through the suggestions of the stories they hear. The stories are presented as ballads".
I should say at the outset that I have a penchant for stories told in ballad form with background conversation also interjecting. I was brought up on Ewan MacColl's famous and brilliant "Radio Ballads", made for the BBC nearly 50 years ago.
And, you really do have to applaud Bob Salmieri for at least trying something DIFFERENT. But that said, being "different", per se, is not enough. The question is, does it succeed as a work of art?
I have to tell you that I do not think it does. I have listened to the album six times all the way through: which is twice as long as I normally listen to albums I review. I deliberately gave it extra plays because I felt a lot of work had gone into the album and it was not for me to dismiss it lightly.
But the fact is that it never "grabbed" me. I don't think that I ever really BELIEVED in the "island". Okay, so I did not understand the mixture of Sicilian dialects that one mainly hears, but there are English translations in the liner booklet. And I have to say that to be honest, were I in this café, I would ask for the bill and head for the door pronto.
But that's a cheap shot. A lot of work has gone into the album and I cannot dismiss it with a glib remark like that. So let's look for "positives".
Well, it's an incontrovertible fact that the musicianship is top-drawer. An impressive command of conventional "Western" instruments as well as more esoteric ones such as kora, djambe, darbuka etc. Melodically it is an always-interesting fusion of North Mediterranean and African melodies and rhythms.
But somehow it is not enough. All of the ballads seem to forego memorability. And it all seems a bit PRETENTIOUS.
Now, it could be that this is really a masterpiece that has passed completely over my head. It will not be the first - nor the last - time when works of art have bemused the critics. Who knows, this might well be another Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", or some such?
But if I were Bob Salmieri, I wouldn't hold my breath on the prospect materialising.
Homepage of the artist:, contact to artist:
Dai Woosnam

Michael Snow "Never Say No To A Jar"
Label: Irish EyeRecords; CD IYE 967; 2003
This is the final instalment of Michael Snow's "Skelly" trilogy. Snow is a Liverpudlian of Irish stock, whose career in music started in 1962. Since 1973 he has lived in Nashville, three years after striking gold after penning "Rosetta", a number one hit single in 9 countries.
Here he surrounds himself with several luminaries including two members of Nanci Griffith's Blue Moon Orchestra. As a result, the arrangements and execution of Snow's self-penned songs are a delight to listen to.
The topics covered run the gamut, and a characteristic of his lyric writing is a certain robust approach to life and a refusal to feel sorry for himself.
It is fair to say that none of these songs would ever become a hit single, but that may not be the "put-down" it seems. Why? Well because he gives us his hit "Rosetta" as an unlisted "bonus" track: and the plain fact is that all 14 tracks here knock it into a cocked hat.
Still, I guess that "Rosetta" has a nostalgic appeal for him. Quite understandable really.
I don't think that this album will get me rushing to buy its two predecessors in the trilogy, but that said, it is an enjoyable and honest piece of work. Website:
Homepage of the artist:, contact to label: Irish Eye Records, PO Box 22908, Nashville, TN 37202-2908 Fax: 615-356-7119.
Dai Woosnam

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

To the content of FolkWorld No. 26

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 10/2003

All material published in FolkWorld is © The Author via FolkWorld. Storage for private use is allowed and welcome. Reviews and extracts of up to 200 words may be freely quoted and reproduced, if source and author are acknowledged. For any other reproduction please ask the Editors for permission. Although any external links from FolkWorld are chosen with greatest care, FolkWorld and its editors do not take any responsibility for the content of the linked external websites.

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Home
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld