Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut "Airs from your Elbow"
Brechin All Records, 2013
Trail West "One That Got Away"
Tyree Records, 2013
Named after Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid’s (1892-1978) unkempt hairdress, this céilidh band had been formed 25 years ago at Edinburgh University and only these days recorded their debut album. In the meantime piper Gary West and guitar/keyboard player Colin Matheson performed with Ceolbeg, percussionist Marcos Watt had been the leading drummer of several pipe bands and bass player Stan Wilson was seen everywhere on Edinburgh's thriving music scene. A céilidh is a traditional social gathering, which nowadays is synonymous with set dancing. What makes Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut rather unique is the inclusion of the Highland pipes. So "Airs from your Elbow" is both a pleasure to listen to and the soundtrack to step out dances such as the "Gay Gordons", the "Dashing White Sergeant" and "Strip the Willow".
Well, the latter is not the only céilidh band to feature the bagpipes. Here we are again
(played by Seonaidh MacIntyre), and though this young outfit founded in the Hebrides in 2008
might not really claim being a céilidh band in the strictest sense, most tune sets are led by
Ian Smith's piano accordion and Andrew Findlater's drums. "One That Got Away" is kicking off
with a few sets to dance the "Gay Gordons" or waltz away. Add Alain Campbell on guitar, the second
half of the album is rather meant for a listening audience, featuring tunes written by trad artists such as
Ross Ainslie ("Dirty Bee," e.g. recorded by Session A9),
Phil Cunningham ("Manus Lunny's Terracotta Plower Pop")
and Gordon Duncan ("Rory Gallagher's"). Ian, Seonaidh and Andrew wrote some fine pieces themselves,
just listen to Ian's "Glencoe Diversion" at the beginning.
There is also some singing: Ruaraidh Iain Caimbeul's "A Pheigi A Ghraidh" is a beautiful Gaelic song,
while their party-piece "Dòmhnall ‘ic Sheumais, the Island Boy" is a more languishing Scottish version of the better-known Irish "Hello Patsy Fagan."
© Walkin' T:-)M
Colm Naughton "The Space Between the Notes"
Own label, 2013
Short & sweet: This is one of the must-have banjo albums!
In detail: Colm Naughton hails from the thriving session scene of Galway City
in the west of Ireland. Way back in the late 1990s he co-founded The Galway School of Irish Traditional music.
Currently Colm plays with singer Matt Keane and is married to another member of the Keane family,
The album's title "The Space Between the Notes" describes the music,
it is often about what you don't play as what you do. Colm's banjo style is economical,
relaxed and laid-back, but at the same time very rhythmical thus driving the tunes forward -
from an ancient jig such as "The Gold Ring" to a fashionable reel from the
pen of Liz Carroll such as "Wissahicken Drive".
Colm cares for variety, there's a pair of barndances and two Asturian muñeiras.
His own original "Orlaith's Waltz," written two years ago for his wife to be,
is featuring himself on the mandolin, plus an accordion and a string arrangement.
Then there is a selection of songs: "If You'd Ever Met" is an original too,
dedicated to Colm's late mother and featuring Orlaith's uncle, the distinguished singer
"Shady Grove" is the popular old-time song, here a Doc Watson/Gerry Garcia/Dave Grisman crossover version
with the "Mother's Delight" reel thrown into the mix.
"When I'm Gone" is the well-known Phil Ochs song, here lifted from the singing of Scotsman Dick Gaughan.
And yes, Colm is not only a highly skilled banjo player but a gifted singer too.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Tomás Ó Gealbháin, Caoimhín Ó Fearghaíl,
Seán Ó Fearghaíl "Lá ag Ól Uisce"
Own label, 2013
Caoimhín Ó Fearghaíl (pipes, flute and guitar), TG4 Young Musician of the Year 2012,
teamed up with his brother Seán Ó Fearghaíl (fiddle and concertina) and Tomás Ó Gealbháin (accordion)
to lead us to the well of traditional music in the south-eastern Irish Co. Waterford, or
An Déise in Gaelic. The music is relaxed and beautifully executed. It flows just like the
"Drops Of Spring Water" (that's the title of a lesser known tune) - mostly
jigs and reels with a polka set and a slow air ("Ráiteachas Na Tairngreacht") thrown in for good measure.
Three Gaelic songs have also been thrown into the mix, sung by
Nell Ní Chróinín, Jimi Ó Ceannabháin
and Ciarán Ó Gealbháin, respectively.
The album finishes off with a reel learned from local band Danú,
which had been a great influence on the trio;
it is presumably "McGoldrick's" which had been called "Michelle O’Sullivan’s" on Danú's
"All Things Considered."
Accompaniment comes from other Déise musicians, Dónal Clancy on guitar (who also engineered the recordings)
and Donnchadh Gough on bodhrán.
You can get some idea @ Youtube.com!
© Walkin' T:-)M
Edel Fox & Neill Byrne "The Sunny Banks"
Blackthorn Records, 2013
Edel Fox is a young but distinguished concertina player from Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, in the west of Ireland.
Way back in 2004, she was awarded the TG4 Young Musician of the Year and took off as both a teacher
and performer. In 2007 she received a BA at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University
of Limerick. After a literally fantastic summer in 2013, its musical sequel comes by way of
collaborating with fiddler Neill Byrne of Waterford, who grew up close to
the great fiddler and composer John Dwyer and
whose jig "The Woods of Caol Rua" and hornpipe "The Road to Eyries" are both featured here.
Edel and Neill are playing together for a couple of years. Clare and Waterford, West and Southeast
blend perfectly. Caoimhín Ó Fearghail (see above) adds another Waterford edge on guitar and
bouzouki, and if there is a distinct Cavan style oy beating the bodhrán, Richie Lyons is the man.
Both of them (or all four, respectively) are experienced and skilled traditional musicians
balancing Irish music between grace and roughness. The selection is splendid.
There is not only their favourite single reel with a nice bounce,
that gave the album its title, but "The Sunny Banks" features a lot of peculiar
tunes and tune versions from the likes of (both) Paddy O'Brien's, Finbarr Dwyer, Seán Ryan,
Tommy Peoples ("Jocelyn's Jig" played as a waltz on his "Quiet Glen" album),
Charlie Lennon ("In Memory of Tommy McCarthy," Edel's first teacher at the
Willie Clancy Summer School
when she was seven years old), to name just a few.
I've heard the jig "Drive the Cows Home" the first time lifted off from O'Neill's.
Edel composed "Nana Jo's Reel" which she plays solo on the concertina,
and she makes her fiddle playing recording debut on "First Slip,"
supposedly the first slip jig piper Willie Clancy of Miltown Malbay ever learnt.
© Walkin' T:-)M
James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters, Lucy Ward
"The Liberty to Choose - A Selection of Songs from
The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs"
The original Penguin Book of English Folk Songs was published way back in 1959.
It became the folk singer's bible and the Fellside label subsequently released two LPs
of songs from the book, one by the book's co-editor Bert Lloyd
and the other by a dream team consisting of Linda Adams, Martin Carthy, Jez Lowe, Roy Harris and John Bowden.
In 2012 Steve Roud published the follow-up volume
"The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs,"
showcasing the core tradition of English folk song
as reflected in the collections compiled from the 1870s to the 1980s.
Veteran singer Brian Peters, best known for his interpretation of traditional music from North-East England and as the melodeon player heard regularly in the Spongebob TV cartoons, has brought three young award-winning singers into the studio who were currently making their mark on the folk scene: James Findlay, Bella Hardy and Lucy Ward. Their selection of traditional English songs from the book includes many well-known titles, however most of the tunes are not too prominent and avoiding the familiar versions (e.g. "Bonny Light Horseman" in mixolydian mode). Their choices take the listener from "The Seeds of Love," the first song Cecil Sharp ever collected and "Barbara Allen," the most popular traditional ballad in the English language, to less familiar fellows such as the "Jolly Waggoner" and "The Molecatcher." The quartet is visiting favourite haunts such as "Van Dieman's Land" and the "Banks of Claudy" as well as places way off the beaten track where "The Moon Shines Bright." The latter is a New Year carol delivered a capella and sung with grandezza by all four vocalists; a fitting finale for a fine selection addressing both the trad aficionado and the folk music novice.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Up in the Air "Moonshine"
Own label, 2012
Two Scottish fiddlers and one percussionist resume their collaboration that started way back in the early
Jonny Hardie (fiddle, guitar)
and Davy Cattanach (percussion, guitar) were founding members of the
Old Blind Dogs,
Gavin Marwick(fiddle) co-founded The Iron Horse and later performed
and recently Bellevue Rendezvous.
There's some up-to-date percussion, though the overall sound is plain and relaxing:
traditional strathspeys and reels, Marwick and Hardie compositions
and those from contemporaries such as Brian MacAlpine and Michael Ferrie,
plus the ancient Scottish air "Braighe Lochiall" and "Salton de Meres"
from Llan de Cubel's bouzouki player Elias Garcia (once recorded
by German multi-instrumentalist Jens Kommnick).
Davy's three original songs explore the musical territory between country and calypso;
"The Witch of Findrack" is the most powerful, telling
the trad-like true story of Helen Rogie burned at the stake in Aberdeen in 1597.
Jonny also sings the Peter Stott song "Woe Is Me," and Jonny and Davy prove to be a fine vocal
match trading some great harmonies.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Moragh "Best Case Scenario"
Appel Rekords, 2013
In Gaelic moragh means something like great or big ...
The Flemish group from De Kempen heath and the swampy Waasland area close to Antwerp, Belgium,
was formed in 2007 and has built kind of an reputation over the years.
After a short break in 2010, Moragh's core - guitarist Peter Ceulemans, piper Marnix Polfliet
and bodhrán player Wim Moons - teamed up with some big names
in the Flemish folk scene, that is fiddler Dirk Naessens (Urban Trad, MANdolinMAN),
flutist Gunnar Van Hove (Setanta, Daou)
and bass player Gert Meulemans (Snakes in Exile).
Furthermore, Philip Masure (Comas, Urban Trad)
is supporting Moragh regularly on guitar and cittern.
That's the way to get a best case scenario!
Moragh plays driving and groovy Celtic power folk,
traditional tunes as well as
more recent stuff from McManus, McGoldrick & Moynihan
and original compositions by Van Hove and Polfliet.
The songs written by Peter Ceulemans work to varying success. The opener
"Careless Hope" is a nice folk rocker; the anthem-like
"Hand to Hold" would make a great finish
(though this is left to the only traditional song, the Scottish "Jock Stewart").
Watch Moragh playing the Celtic Night Geluwe in 2011 @ www.youtube.com!
© Walkin' T:-)M
Childsplay "As the Crow Flies"
Childsplay Records, 2013
New England fiddle super-group Childsplay
is formed of 13 fiddlers such as Hanneke Cassel and Katie McNally,
who are all playing instruments made by violinmaker Bob Childs.
Their sixth CD in 26 years, subtitled Fiddlers, Fiddles & Fiddlemaker,
is a selection of Celtic sounding tunes, culminating in a grande finale
with stepdancer Nic Gareiss. Hanneke Cassel has written some new tunes (e.g. fine "The Last Alleluia" waltz),
as did guitar and piano player Keith Murphy (a striking four-part mini suite)
and flute support Shannon Heaton.
Last but not least, the album had been produced by Liz Carroll,
who composed the title track "As the Crow Flies" as supplement to
the chirpy old song "The Hawk and the Crow" (the song being recently recorded by The Outside Track).
The fiddle orchestra's vocalist is Lissa Schneckenburger,
who handles a blusey "Dear Companion", a poppy "Leave No Millionaire Behind" (Pierce Woodward),
Uncle Dave Macon's banjo-driven "Don't Get Weary Children"
and the plain, child's play "Starry Lulluby" with ease.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer "Red House"
Own label, 2013
Warning: An evening with Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer may contain songs with a high death count and plenty of love (quite often at the same time) ...
Their already sixth album to date since 2002
features traditional songs such as the Dublin street song "Rambling Siuler"
(lifted from Irish band Planxty's "After the Break" album and had the tune altered
with the original melody thrown in here and there).
Jonny Dyer (vocals, guitar, 'sazouki') had changed most of the tunes, for the well-known
"Sheffield Apprentice" (e.g. have a listen to the Appalachian singer Hedy West's conventional version)
as well as the rather unfamiliar "Old Bark Hut" from the pen of Australian poet Andrew 'Banjo' Paterson
(author of the better known "Waltzing Matilda").
What's even more important: You are guaranteed to find out more about the nyckelharpa, bagpipes .... Vicki Swan plays both the Swedish keyed fiddle and follows in her father’s footsteps as a bagpiper, likewise Swedish säckpipa, English border pipes and Scottish smallpipes. "The Shoemaker Set" features two Swedish bagpipe tunes attributed to Vicki's great grandfather Tomas Karlsson, followed by an original song dedicated to the Tomasson Girls. Further instrumental selections include traditional Scottish and Irish tunes. The "Red House Set" strings together English Baroque composer Henry Purcell's "Double Dealer" with the ancient dance tune "Red House" from John Playford's "Compleat English Dancing Master". "The Bolinder Set" has three tunes from Jonny to fit the rhythm of an old canal narrowboat with a Bolinder diesel engine.
Last but not least: Have a generally good time. Free smiles with every performance. This needs more than just a CD but I imagine every Swan/Dyer concert to be this way!
© Walkin' T:-)M
Own label, 2013
Even if played fast and furious, traditional Celtic music often has an inherent melancholy
and sadness. Not here! On the contrary! There is an overwhelming blitheness and
pure joy from beginning to end on Dalla's
fifth album "K5" (shorthand for kabm pemp, i.e. 'step five',
one of the band's favourite Cornish dance rhythms).
I have no idea if this is generally true for the roots music of Cornwall, one of the smaller Celtic
communities, or just Dalla's particular expression and variety. The tales are not necessarily too
amusing, but even the pregnant girl of "The Lark in the Morning" doesn't care too much about
tomorrow, and beautiful tenor Matthew Trewhella is finally gone to the bottom of the sea
singing happily for "An Vorvorena Senor" (The Mermaid of Zennor).
Besides the songs, delivered by Bec Applebee in Cornish and in English,
there is a couple of pub session and ceilidh tunes, mostly jigs and reels.
Former band member Simon Lockley's composed the scottishe "Gorthrothy" (English for substitute,
titled on account of the tune's echoes of The Who's song),
and in the very end there are two sets of kabm pemp, Cornish five-steps.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Esko Järvelä "Epic Male Band"
Own label, 2013
During my music career many people have given me their ideas and opinions about what sort of music they would like to hear me play. Some time ago I realised I was already in my thirties, actually, and I’d never played in a rock band. How lame is that? I wanted to play louder, I wanted a reason to buy earplugs. I wanted to break more bow hairs than ever before. I just wanted to write and perform the only kind of music I’ve never been told to play. And I love it. These are the words of Helsinki-based fiddler Esko Järvelä,
whose craft has been honed in bands such as
Tsuumi Sound System
and Baltic Crossing.
Esko's debut solo folk rock project "Epic Male Band," ft. Anssi Salminen (acoustic guitar), Jani Kivelä
(electric guitar), Juho Kivivuori (bass guitar) and Janne Mathlin (drums),
is not only louder, but - with a polska thrown in for good measure -
rather Celtic than Nordic sounding with jazzy and sometimes weird overtones (mind you, Esko
is from Finland ;-) It is fun, you can dance to, and there is a fantastic guy on the fiddle.
Get the CD immediately, go and see him in concert, you won't regret it!
© Walkin' T:-)M
Mr Zarko "Electric Gipsy Disco Noise"
Mr Zarko, aka Žarko Jovašević, plays Electric Gypsy Disco Noise.
He had been born near Guča in Serbia, where the legendary Guča Trumpet Festival takes
before settling in Berlin in 2004 (according to Karsten Rube one of the biggest Balkan cities).
2011 was a crucial year in his career, firstly taking over the management of the children's opera
in cooperation with the Staatsoper Berlin, secondly forming the group and alter ego
in golden leggings and skimpy tops, "Mr Zarko," with band members from Bulgaria, Romania and Germany,
some of which performed with Shantel
From the first seconds, Mr Zarko is on full throttle
for a club-suitable Gypsy party, with some reggae, tango and Latin music
thrown in for good measure, in the end posing as the Serbian Tom Waits.
Their electro-brass sound is strong and inventive,
only Jovašević's English lyrics are not my cup of tea
(Gogol Bordello comes to mind).
Mr Zarko is nominated for the creole Global Music Contest with the finals taking place in May 2014. We wish all the best!
© Walkin' T:-)M
Trio Dhoore "Modus Operandi"
Apel Rekords, 2013
Well, the Dhoore siblings are a busy and ambitious musical clan.
Koen Dhoore started with the classical guitar, though discovered the (electro-acoustic) hurdy gurdy
and studied the instrument with
Cecilia's Thomas Hoste.
Ward Dhoore studied chromatic accordeon at first, then developed a fancy for the DADGAD guitar;
in late 2012 he became mandolin player in Snaarmaarwaar.
Hartwin Dhoore also studied the box, but changed his chromatic for a diatonic accordeon,
and soon played whistles and bagpipes too.
In 2010 they decided to start a band together and compose
original instrumental music in the vein of traditional music from the low countries and French bal folk.
With support from Stijn van Beek on uilleann pipes
and Jeroen Geerinck of Hot Griselda and Snaarmaarwaar on bodhrán,
Trio Dhoore follows in the footsteps of other young Flemish folk bands:
simple but potent tunes, including jigs, waltzes, polkas and marches,
delivered with finesse yet the necessary groove. "Coffee Break" has Nordic overtones;
"Castaar / Kamikaze" are Breton plins; "Hot Kaspar" is a 6/8 muneira-type melody
dedicated to Kaspar Laval of Hot Griselda, while the schottish "Voor Toon & Pascal"
bears the name of the Dhoore's musical parents
Toon Van Mierlo and Pascale Rubens of Naragonia.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Duane Andrews & Craig Young "Charlie's Boogie"
Own label, 2013
After several solo albums
and two releases with fiddler Dwayne Côté,
Newfoundland guitarist Duane Andrews says hello again from chilly St. John's where I just had to kick in
the extra heaters here in the house. The hot news though is the release of his
collaboration with Craig Young, "Charlie's Boogie," oscillating between Duane's jazz and Craig's country picking background.
So expect Bill Monroe's "Tennessee Blues" and Tony Rice's "Port Tobacco,"
with the title track "Charlie’s Boogie" from Canadian country singer Smiley Bates (1937-1997)
that both guitarists learned when starting on their instrument,
as well as Django Reinhardt's "Babik,"
and a huge selection of Irish (ancestry of many Newfoundlanders) tunes such as
the traditional reel "The Maid Behind The Bar."
"Kelly Russell’s Reel" is a composition of fiddler Emile Benoit (1913-1992),
who is known for popularizing Franco-Newfoundlander music,
and "Joe Batt’s Arm Longliners" originally is a song written by Frank Dwyer and Ron Kelly of Fogo Island
off the Northwest coast of Newfoundland.
Everything comes together in their respective originals.
Craig wrote "Cat's In The Bag" and Duane "The Supermoon Rag"
(see the video @ Youtube.com).
Last but not least, there is one song from Craig’s huge vocal repertoire, songwriter/silversmith
Jerry Faires' "D-18 Song."
Since there are virtually no weak tracks, "Charlie's Boogie" might be rated as a first class guitar album.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Mediæval Bæbes "Of Kings And Angels"
Queen of Sheba, 2013
A Christmas Carol Collection!
The Mediæval Bæbes play mediæval music from all over Europe since
this time they work on English Christmas Carols.
Songs almost everybody knows: "I Saw Three Ships", "Ther Is No Rose Of Swych Vertu",
"In The Bleak Midwinter", "Good King Wenceslas", "Away In A Manger", "In Dulci Jubilo",
"The Coventry Carol" (already recorded on their 1997 debut album "Salva Nos" with a different line-up),
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" ... and last but not least "Silent Night."
The current Babes - Katharine Blake, Emily Ovenden, Sarah Foster, Clare Edmondson, Esther Dee,
Josephine Ravenheart - put old Christmas music into a musical context where it should belong:
neither an antiquated thing of yesteryear, nor fancy stuff of the superficial present
- just timeless music which will be played as long as there are CD players or download stores.
© Walkin' T:-)M
Si Kahn "Bristol Bay"
Strictly Country Records, 2013
The 69-year old Si Kahn has been making fine folk records since 1974. Yet it seems he is more noticed on the periphery of the folk scene. His music is traditional sounding, but resonant with messages of the times and works well with light rock arrangements or simply as acoustic guitar and voice. His voice is rich and resonant in the manner of Harvey Andrews or a lighter Gordon Lightfoot. I like the multitude of instruments—banjos, electric guitars, etc., as there is a nice variety here. This record’s tone heads to a worldly take on traditional folk music, with a sea shanty style present in many of the cuts. And the sea is the theme here. Si Kahn has always been an activist as well as a musician and this record is themed and dedicated to Bristol Bay, Alaska. There is the unfortunately all too usual risk of mining and development that is threatening the natural habitat of sockeye salmon and many other forms of marine life. Kahn’s record reflects the beauty of this region and hopefully will help his cause. I have not been to Alaska, but this takes me one step closer.
© David Hintz
Dubl Handi "Up like the Clouds"
Own label, 2012
Si Kahn and the Looping Brothers "Aragon Mill"
Strictly country records, 2013
Covered Grass "Toogaroo"
Hans Theessink "Wishing Well"
Blue groove, 2013
Dubl Handi are vocalist, guitarist and
banjo player Hilary Hawk and multi-instrumentalist Brian Geltner. Together with
a few fine guest musicians this duo recorded traditional songs mainly. Inspired
by recordings of known artists such as Cousin Emmy, Uncle Dave Mason, Karen
Dalton and many other. With a great old-time sound these two musicians create a
wonderful, pure Americana musical experience. Music with an ancient soul, but a
The legendary Si Kahn works together with the Looping brothers on their new album called Aragon Mill. Si Kahn has released many albums during the past decades. He started a joint venture with this German bluegrass and they are currently touring with their bluegrass sessions. Fifteen songs, fifteen times friendly, easy going bluegrass music. Well played, open minded and very accessible for a wide audience. Bluegrass for a lazy afternoon.
From Germany comes the band Covered Grass on their album Toogaroo they recorded thirteen uplifting tracks. All songs are composed by the band and written in Americana/country/bluegrass/folk style. Happy music, uncomplicated and well played. Hard to believe it’s a German band, they capture the atmosphere of mainstream Americana in a really nice way.
Another non-USA musician is Hans Theessink, a Dutchman, who has been singing, mainly USA, folk related styles since the sixties. His new album is a mixture of own compositions with traditionals and songs from folk heroes like Dylan and van Zandt. His deep, aged voice is warm and creates a intimate, laid back atmosphere. All of this mixed with his high quality guitar play makes this a pleasant addition to his repertoire. As I just wrote before, another beautiful album by probably the best European blues-Americana singer alive.
Kalima "Everything Within"
Neu klang, 2013
Edgar Knecht "Dance on Deep Waters"
Again a bunch of jazz albums that were offered for review. Staring
with the trio Kalima and their album Everything Within. This
female trio on vocals, piano, sax and clarinet, recorded eleven, mainly
original, songs. Storytelling sounds, vocal art with (improvised) jazz
atmosphere. The trio likes to mix styles, search for new boundaries and comes
with well played and accessible repertoire.
The second album in this reviews is by the pianist Edgar Knecht. On his new album called Dance on Deep Waters Knecht plays seven new compositions and one Brahms piece. Together with his trio on bass, drums and percussion Knecht creates a wonderful acoustic sound. All his compositions are inspired by traditional songs and pieces and that can be heard. It’s a calm, quality album with melodic tunes which Knecht plays in an intense way on his piano, strongly backed by his fellow musicians. Interesting for those who search for a more melodic and less experimental type of jazz with folky influences.
D'en Haut "D'en Haut"
The duo Roman Coloutti and Tomas Baudoin form the French formation D'en Haut. On a wide variety of instruments they bring a free interpretation of traditional music. Sung in the Occitan language and played on acoustic (ancient) percussion and instruments. The duo chooses soberness in their musical arrangements and they create a modern sounding, sometimes hypnotising, haunting music. Intriguing album which shows that good musicians can prevent traditional music from getting old fashioned.© Eelco Schilder
Suden Aika "Laiturilla"
The latest album by this quartet from Finland is a live registration of a concert in their home country. Thirteen songs show the vocal capability of the singers who only use their instruments as less as possible. The result is bit brave album with strong vocal work, but also a bit predictable and more of the same. For those who are familiar with their, often outstanding, studio recordings, this live album might be lesser surprising.© Eelco Schilder
Rydvall & Mjelva "Isbrytaren"
Two young musicians, one on the Norwegian Hardanger fele and the other on the typical Swedish Nyckelharpa. Two instruments that are seldom heard together, this album shows how pity that is. Fifteen tunes from both the Norwegian and Swedish musical heritage are played in a beautiful, melodic and intense way. It’s impressive how Rydvall and Mjelva kept the original sound and character of the instruments, but also managed to create a well-balanced, beautiful sound when playing together. An album to listen to with closed eyes and enjoy the fresh, sparkling but also a bit sacral, sound.© Eelco Schilder
Juuri & Juuri "Pelimannit"
The first thing that intrigues me is the fabulous picture at the front of the sleeve. Two musicians, one Emilia Lajunen with her violin and Eero Grundström behind the harmonium look into the camera with expressive looks in their eyes. The album exists out of two cd’s. The first one is called ‘Fiddlers’ and is a kind of statement against the pop-ified folk music we frequently hear. This is their attempt to find out how the old melodies really sounded. Fresh dancing music, wonderfully played and with a touch of happiness. The second album is called ‘quiet rapture’ and on this they play tunes that are usually only played solo on traditional instruments, such as the Kantele. They explored what would be possible if you play this tunes together and create a new sound. The longer, hypnotising tracks are stunning. With subtle changes in the musical arrangements, played full concentration and passion this album creeps under your skin. Where fiddlers brings out the happiness, this second CD digs deeper and searches for that what lays beneath that what we think to see at first sight. A wonderful project, with two totally different albums, both unique in their atmosphere and played by two passionate musicians.© Eelco Schilder
Dreamers' Circus "A Little Symphony"
Go Danish folk music, 2013
Multi instrumentalists Ale Carr, Nikolaj Busk and Rune Tonsgaard, or Dreamers circus as they call themselves, amaze with a fabulous mixture of folk, classical music and brass. Backed by the Danish String quartet and the European traveling brass carnival, the trio delivered one of the best Danish albums I heard in a long time. I do try to write this review while I’m listening to the CD, but it’s impossible, the music keeps demanding my full attention and incidentally make the goose bumps run over my skin. Thirteen new compositions, all by one of the band members, and each of them with their own atmosphere and all together they sound like a symphony in thirteen parts. Each telling a small story. Starting carefully, but well played, with Idas första which is followed by one of the highlights on the album Snabbsen in which the three musicians create a perfect balance between the classical sound of the string quartet and their own traditional roots. Slightly Celtic touch, wonderful instrumental harmonies, a song that overwhelms me. Nice how they continue with a more dark Prelude and A little symphony in which the travelling brass musicians are their new partners in music. Again in perfect balance, a delicate mixture of styles, brass and folk this time with a symphonic touch at moments. There is also time for a bit more peace like in Fuglsang jig. Well, peace, it starts melodic with the accordion at front and slowly the song gets richer, a violin is added and before you know it the musicians go full speed ahead. The song suddenly ends and totally unexpected a deep, dark and mystical sound runs out of the speakers. It’s a harlequins dream in When harlequin sleeps. The darkness disappears as sudden as it came and a calm, dreamy melody follows. Sparkling and light, delicate and beautiful. After many, many years of reviewing I sometimes wonder why I keep on doing it as most of the albums I hear are nice, but only a handful really amazes me and are more than the average folky kind of outputs. This album by Dreamers circus is exactly why I keep on doing it. A fabulous album with refreshing, well composed, well played music. All balanced, sometimes outspoken, creative and played at a high level. As I wrote at the start of this review, probably one of the best albums to come out of Denmark for a long time.© Eelco Schilder