Also in this edition:Damien Mullane, The Tristan Legg Band, Paul Mounsey and Alalé.
Album Review: Happy Birthday by Frost at Midnight.
Robert Atkins: guitar, bass, keyboards
Catherine Atkins: vocals
Catherine Handley: flute
Johnny Quick: vocals
John Tribe: harmonica
Record label: taff vale
Beautiful and uplifting, Frost at Midnight crafted an album that is determined to encourage repeated listens. Even the album artwork encourages a smile with its illustration of golden birthday cake framed in blue. The album title is Happy Birthday. Opening the cardboard case introduces me to a back cover picture of band members slicing that cake. There are references to Keats, Jacques Humbert, Jack Sinclair, Julian of Norwich and TS Eliot.
I can tell that songwriter Rob Atkins is somewhat into academic themes. This album is also traditionally influenced with classical frills. As for the vocals, Catherine Atkins and Johnny Quick both deliver superb singing styles. Catherine has pure soprano voice which is comparable to Judy Collins and fellow Welsh singer Mary Hopkins. Johnny has a faint folk roughness underneath the Broadway smooth voice.
A kind of high plucky sound is heard all over the album courtesy of Rob Atkin’s mandolin. The airy sounds of keyboards, bass and guitars almost slide into the border of indie folk and is only hold on a balance by the flute of Catherine Handley. The harmonica of John Tribe reinforces the band’s folk influence.
Happy Birthday opens with the lively A Birthday. It has a kind of 70’s vibes. The signing here reminds me a bit of Sally Oldfield and Maggie Reilly. Deep Open Chord follows with its heartfelt lyrics and pastoral melodies. Surprise by Joy opens with “Surprise by joy impatient as the wind I turn to share, I turn to share the rapture..” I am touched with the poetic elegance of this track. I love the mandolin playing in The Egg Timer. It’s one of those instrumental tracks that should be given more exposure for its delicate and atmospheric beauty.
Writ in Water has a renaissance kind of sound while All Shall Be Well reminds me of those Irish ballads performed by the Dubliners and Planxty. Love’s a Mystery is filled with magical bells which grow on you after repeated listens. Why Should I Care strikes me as something the late Sandy Denny would sing. At the same time the Jazz melodic flavor makes it a perfect lounge track. Percy Paves the Way burrows its melody from the Scottish song Ae Fond Kiss. The voice of Catherine Atkins soars like an angel.
Tambourine is a track that introduced me to the band after hearing it online. This is definitive Welsh trad style.The tambourine sounds trimmed down to give more emphasis on the flute of Catherine Handley. Sleep starts with an ambient keyboard style. This is the only track featuring a synthesized sound that works well! As the title suggests, it is a lullaby. Another Birthday(reprise) closes the album as an instrumental track.
My verdict: There should be more Welsh bands like Frost at Midnight that celebrates the beauty of combining the delicate styles of various genres. It is a must have album whither you are into indie folk, Celtic or easy listening.
Damien Mullane has just released 13. The carrier single is “The Orphan”. He’s just finished a tour with Fiddle player Colin Farrell and Lunasa’s Kevin Crawford. Big thanks to Cillian Doheny of Irish trad band Moxie for recommending this music.
The Tristan Legg band
I discovered The Tristan Legg band last July of 2011. Since then I have been following their updates. Tristan Legg is based in Nova Scotia, the Celtic music capital of Canada. Below are videos that will give you an idea about his music. Enjoy!
My friend Paula who is based in Yorkshire England posted this man’s music on my facebook wall. I was captivated. There is definitely a strong Scottish identity in his music.This track is also very hypnotic. He was featured in the UK docu called Visit Scotland…
One picture video of Paul Mounsey track The Fields of Robert John
Album:- Nahoo Too
Last FM:- www.lastfm.com/music/paulmounsey
My Space:- www.myspace.com/paulmounsey
My friend Sacha Talens is a punk rocker who travels around the world. He lived for a certain time in Ireland. This is a band he witnessed performing live when he was in Galway.
Born out of the lively music scene in Galway in the West of Ireland, Alalé was formed in 2006. The band was formed by Fergal Walsh, David Cardona, Gabriel G. Diges and Ciaran O’Donghaile. They soon released the self-produced album Wo Japen, which has since gone on to sell over 4000 copies. At the moment the band members include, Flute, Whistle and Galician Gaita player, Gabriel G. Diges; Singer and Fiddle player, Stephanie Swanton, guitarist, Esteban Moreno; and Bodhrán player, David Cardona. Alalé have played and toured extensively in festivals and venues in Ireland and throughout Europe, returning regularly to Germany, Spain and the Netherlands and recently got their first television exposure playing on BBC Northern Ireland.