Celtic Music for Millenials

Celtic Music for Millenials

November 17, 2017

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Ryan MacNeil has that keen ear for tradition and mainstream smarts.

Chill-out, party music, these are the terms that evade Celtic music genre for a long time. But multi-instrumentalist Ryan MacNeil has become a mediator between the great divide, and I am talking about tradition and mainstream music. If you think about it, most of the things out there are marketed in disposable pop. You know, tunes geared towards the 20-something working crowd with too much stuff in their playlist, they forget most of the artists in the morning after.

Shuffle(as the title implies) will feel at home in any playlist or genre that you might (mis)place it. It has that oomph and verve associated with Jazz music but also the sweetness of Pop that will not alienate even avid listeners of the podcast generation. I like his cover of Wild Mountain Thyme. He has a knack for arranging each song with appropriate grooves like Reggae, Folk, or an occasional dip of Electronica. Though his music is rooted in Folk, he knows what is going on out there and he is attuned to the vibe of the young generation.

There are introspective numbers here that begs to remain in one’s playlist for a long time, like the instrumental track Summer Evening. Here, he pours his gift of playing exquisite notes without sounding too New Age.  Shuffle is an artfully crafted album that will sound good (albeit stylish) anywhere, anytime and it deserves more attention!

You can get your copy of Shuffle here: https://www.ryanonthepiano.com

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The Gothard Sisters New Magical Album

The Gothard Sisters New Magical Album

 

The Gothard Sisters define the spirit of the season with their new album Falling Snow. What brought the album close to my heart is its vivacious atmosphere. There is no shortage of upbeat tracks in this 10-track album. Apart from the vocal acrobats, you are in for an instrumental treat like the elaborated God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen , a track that will make members of The Fairport Convention smile!

There are traditional holiday songs like Hark! The Herald Angels Sing which we all love to sing along to. There’s also the ever joyful Winter Wonderland with its notable pizzicato accompaniment. Then there are never before heard tracks like Christmas Flower which will rouse even the Grinch in us, and so much more.

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Happy Elf brings that ancient spirit with its traditional fiddling. Then there’s the folky Still Still Still where the voices blend in perfection. There’s Skater’s Waltz that will delight the Irish music lovers in all of us. And Joy To The World closes this gem, and this will leave you smiling long after the album has stopped playing.

The Gothard Sisters are superb performers and their confidence in live settings shines throughout every recording. Falling Snow is a testament to their matured musicality that only gets better every year. So, if you are looking for a holiday album that reflects that sense of childhood wonderment, then Falling Snow deserves a space in your growing collection!

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Christmas Carols from Cork

Mary Kennedy presents the concert beside the River Lee in the grounds of University College Cork. With stunning performances by Celine Byrne, Brian Kennedy and special guest Enya.

If you haven’t seen this holiday gem yet, then it is time to feast your eyes and ears to the sublime presentation from Ireland. You can really feel the spiritual power of the place. The songs are fitting. And yes there’s Enya!

http://www.rte.ie/player/ph/show/christmas-carols-from-cork-30004440/10666460/

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Albums to buy this season:

THE WEXFORD CAROLS with Caitríona O’Leary Rosanne Cash Rhiannon Giddens and Tom Jones featuring Ireland’s oldest known Christmas music http://heresyrecords.com/

A CELTIC FAMILY CHRISTMAS with Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy and their family a beautiful cd every Celtic Traditional Music lover will want in their collection http://www.truenorthrecords.com/album/907

VOICES OF ANGELS by Celtic Woman A brand new line up with beautifully recorded classics, including some Christmas tunes recorded with the Orchestra of Ireland www.celticwoman.com

TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS: A CONTEMPORARY CELTIC CHRISTMAS COLLECTION A re-release of a collection of some of the best Irish and Irish American performers including The High Kings, Damien Dempsey, LARRY KIRWAN, The Celtic Tenors and more great Christmas cd for all of our holiday activities! www.togetherforchristmas.com   oh – it’s produced by yours truly!

HIBERNIA by Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist & former member of Celtic Woman – US debut album features original tunes, the album’s concept is the crossover of Celtic&Classical violin with symphony orchestra. Another great one for any Celtic music fan! www.maireadnesbittcelticviolinist.com
Again thanks to my friend Anita Daly for this list.
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Big thank you to my friend Paula. She sent me these wonderful gifts!!!!
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A Celtic Family Christmas-Canadian Soul with Universal Appeal

A Celtic Family Christmas-Canadian Soul with Universal Appeal

So this is holiday music Cape Breton style. Natalie MacMaster has always satisfied fans of lively instrumental Celtic music and A Celtic Family Christmas is a joy to listen to. She recorded this with Donell Leahy (from the famous group Leahy). They married in 2002 and have six children together. I think this album speaks about that joy of being a musical family during holidays. You can hear some of their kids performing some of the tracks in the album. I did some Google search while writing this entry and I was reading this article from Windsor Sun.

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It is fascinating for both musical parents to manage six children. But this is no surprising. Celtic music has always been a family affair. Take Clannad, The Corrs, The Rankins etc. Like the connecting lines in a Celtic tapestry, a true Celt would understand how all things are related. Music is no longer an art to be incased in museum displays. It is a breathing , living thing that is part of us, as trees to soil and rivers to ocean.

The Album

A Celtic Family Christmas has eleven tunes. Most of them are familiar tunes you grew up with. But they are given a jazzy, folky and Celticky treatment. The arrangements are interesting (given their joint temperaments and did you know MacMaster is related to Jack White?) and lively.screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-11-54-23-am

The general feel of the album makes you want to get up and dance. There are slow tunes but energy dominates this as a whole. I love the sense of humor that the team have placed in the majority of the songs. The inventiveness is really captivating. I played this with relatives and they just love it! I do have my personal favorites. I love the opening song Angels We Have Heard on High. It’s a rousing tune with that signature fiddling of MacMaster and Leahy. Jazz takes the center stage with White Christmas. This is in keeping with Irving Berlin’s style which is fabulous.  Twelve Days of Christmas never sounded so fresh!

Something for everyone.

This album will touch any generation. It has a timeless appeal. The styles resonate those of eras gone by and contemporary ones making you feel like you have travelled in any times. This will also be a good introduction to those who are not really familiar with Cape Breton fiddle style. But there will be those who will be drawn to the delicate arrangements found in the likes of What Child Is This with its light-as-spring piano intro. A Celtic Family Christmas also features their kids! Yes I think you will also enjoy this album for that matter.

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In other news…

Canadian vocal powerhouse Allison Crowe showcases her amazing pipes with River. It is part of her Advent calendar as she celebrates Christmas with her fans. Check it out. Very powerful.

Flashback!

It is expected that those who fervently love the music of Clannad are also familiar with this little animation. This was release around 1989(where were you?). The story goes like this:

A little girl is given the following for her birthday: a pink piggy bank, a shiny new coin, a picture book about pirates and two tiny dolls-an Angel and a Soldier Boy.  the The pirates jump out of the picture book while she sleeps, and  then steal the shiny coin out of her piggy bank. Their noise wakes the Soldier Boy who chases after them, but he is overpowered and taken prisoner. The Angel sets off bravely to his rescue, out to sea and back again, as they retrieve the coin and bring it safely home to the little girl.

 

 

Time to Play The Wexford Carols by Caitriona O’ Leary

Time to Play The Wexford Carols by Caitriona O’ Leary

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Looking for a winter album to jam to? I am going to talk about The Wexford Carols by Caitriona O’Leary. I wrote about it last Christmas and even did an interview with the artist.

I just feel it is timely to discuss about holiday albums at this point because when you go out there to look for your kind of music(Traditional Scottish,Irish etc), it is really hard these days with so many choices around, and so many mainstream artists releasing their own holiday albums.

Check out the press release:

THE WEXFORD CAROLS featuring Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash & Rhiannon Giddens

Starring the celebrated Irish singer Caitríona O’Leary and featuring Grammy winners Sir Tom JonesRosanne Cash and Rhiannon GiddensThe Wexford Carols presents Ireland’s greatest Christmas music (much of it for the first time) in a recording that magically blends a diversity of folk styles including traditional Irish, Americana, Blues and Gospel.

With lyrics by Luke Waddinge and William Devereux and set to popular tunes of the day, these musically sublime, spiritually rich, and emotionally powerful carols from the 17th and 18th centuries will give listeners an entirely new and compelling way to experience the story of Christmas.

The Wexford Carols was produced by four-time Grammy winner Joe Henry.

It also has an interesting background:

Clanú Are Back With A Better And Diverse Album!

Clanú Are Back With A Better And Diverse Album!

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Clanú are back with a new album Long Way Round. This is a strong follow-up to their 2012 album Ancient Walls. The reason why I got so excited in reviewing this is because of the evolution of their sound. The tracks are more diverse and they have lots of influences in this new album, from  bluegrass, Irish folk, Irish traditional, Americana and country.

Long Way Round has twelve tracks including covers of Black is the Color and Siúil A Rún. They incorporate traditional and folk instruments. I am a big fan of  piano music and I think Diamond’s Relief is spectacular. It has that contemporary, New Agey feel reminiscent of Night Noise and Phil Coulter. High five  to them for adding this gem.

Like Clannad and The Corrs, Clanu are composed  mostly of family members: Dee McIlroy, Niall McIlroy, Damian McIlroy, Paul Conlon and Fiona McIlroy. The latter  possess and angelic voice. I would not be surprised if one day she will be embarking on a solo career as a singer/instrumentalist.

I think Dee and Fiona  did an amazing work with their vocal styles that are supple and expressive. They sing within their ranges and that’s what I want my music to be after a long day-relaxing but also diverse. The rest of the players did their part in holding the architectural soundscape of this album, not just in every track but also on how every track sticks to each other  in a cohesive way.

You Know My Love Is True has a distinct style. It calls to mind American music in the swinging era with traces of Bluegrass. I feel like I would jitterbug every time I hear this song.

Long Way Round is an album that will appeal to many listeners. Clanú are from Belfast but with a sound like that, it is likely they will conquer continental Europe.

Listen To If Wishes Were Horses by Kris Drever

Listen To If Wishes Were Horses by Kris Drever

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, sings Kris Drever in the title track of his new album If Wishes Were Horses. Part personal memoir and part disquisition into Philosophical matters and the human condition, this album sounds whimsical as it is serious.

The eleven songs combine elements of pop, British folk and soft rock. His musical style is 10900044_991812364203990_2050555669683239488_oreminiscent of Donovan and John Martyn. Vocal layers embellish some songs with complex treatment. The production highlights the sound of the acoustic guitar, making the instrument brighter and warmer above the soft swirls of  vocals and percussion. The bass sets the balance between the light percussion and the whispy strums.

Further exploration into his website sheds light to the album:

If Wishes Were Horses is a collection of semi-biographical songs covering the universal, and not so universal, themes of education, politics, sex, love, ennui, self-employment, social migration and Shetland. Drever’s recent outpouring of songs stems from a move back to the Northern Isles, Shetland this time rather than his native Orkney and the discovery of new lyrical voices to describe his life, times and wild new surroundings.

I haven’t heard of his work with Lau. But I will definitely go look because his style and craftsmanship are captivating. The 2016 Celtic Connections performance made an impression, further cementing his status as a singer-songwriter of heartfelt songs.

If Wishes Were Horses is an album with mid-tempo songs. With the exception of the last track Going to the North with its fast percussion rendering but even then, the relaxed  mood remains. The same tempo is found in the fourth track Shipwrecked with its hypnotic vocals and dreamy arrangement. There are many beautiful songs in this album and I think it really deserves to have a part in your ‘top artists’ collection.

I can listen to If Wishes were Horses again and again and be wrapped in that blanket of wonder, amusement and longing -hese emotions that get regal treatment in the artistry of Kris Drever.

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The Best of Eddi Reader

The Best of Eddi Reader

The Best of Eddi Reader: Her life,  art and her persistence that is truly Scottish

30 Song career spanning remastered Double CD.
Compiled by Tom Rose. Mastered by Mark Freegard

My introduction to the beautiful voice of Eddi Reader was through the TV program of Jools Holland. I think she was promoting her album  Angels and Electricity. What a gorgeous voice! I started paying attention to her releases.That is why I am gushing all over when I got the chance to review her 2-disk Best of Album. The Best of Eddi Reader takes us to several decades of music- when she shot into international recognition with Fairground Attraction up until her more recent Celtic influenced music. $_35

The album has 30 songs and it is eclectic. You can hear original pinned tunes as well as covers-I love her version of Declan O’Rourke’s Galileo-a song that has been covered by many artists. She closes the collection with Henry Mancini’s Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Her voice is bright and clear as sunrise.It is a fine instrument of nuance (delicate as rose petals) and with  heartbreaking intensity that is very Scottish. Her music combines influences from American Rockabilly, fifties standards, traditional Scottish and pop. There is always something for everyone, in this album.

Her gifts extend to acting as well. She played Jolene Jowett, a singer and accordionist, in John Byrne’s Your Cheatin’ Heart,a comedy-drama series for BBC Television, set in the country music scene in Scotland. In 2009, she performed in period-drama Me and Orson Welles, and starring Zac Efron,  and Claire Danes, performing a song in a style of 50s standard.

She is also a prominent advocate of the Yes Scotland movement. In fact, Reader is writing a book f(or publication in 2016) about her great-uncle Seamus Reader, who was head of the Scottish Brigade of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, when the Irish War of Independence broke out in 1919, later becoming a founder of the abortive Scottish Republican Army, which attempted to replicate the Irish struggle in Scotland between the wars.

The Best of Eddi Reader is a closer look at her interesting musical career and which makes her a fascinating Scottish treasure. Call her feisty or amazing-she’s got it all covered, being able to maintain a multi-faceted career which continues to enchant listeners and will continue to do so.

Tracklisting:

CD 1

  1. Find My Love
  2. Perfect
  3. Whispers
  4. Patience of Angels
  5. Dear John
  6. What You Do With What You’ve Got
  7. Kiteflyers Hill
  8. Wings On My Heels
  9. Muddy Water
  10. Leezie Lindsay
  11. My Love Is LIke A Red Red Rose
  12. Wild Mountainside
  13. Love Is The Way
  14. Roses
  15. Baby’s Boat
  16. Vagabond

 

CD 2

  1. My Old Friend The Blues
  2. Dolphins
  3. Hummingbird
  4. Semi Precious
  5. The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon
  6. Galileo
  7. Willie Stewart
  8. Ae Fond Kiss
  9. New York City
  10. Dragonflies
  11. Follow My Tears
  12. Snowflakes In The Sun
  13. Love Is A Losing Game
  14. Moon River

You can buy the album here: http://www.eddireader.co.uk/music/the-best-of

Thanks to Daly Communications.

 

Celtic Woman Q & A with Máiréad

Celtic Woman Q & A with Máiréad

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I’ve been playing Destiny by Celtic Woman many times. New voices and new songs. And lots of magical listening experience. Check out my entry regarding the album in my previous post.

It is a great honour to finally get to talk to one of the artists, notably my favourite violinist Máiréad Nesbitt who took the time to write the answers to my questions. You are probably wondering what it’s like to be part a powerful musical ensemble that continue to make music after a decade right? Well here’s your chance to know.

 

1. The new lineup brings something exciting to the music. What happened to the previous members?

As with most women we have desires to go off and start families and get married! Most of the beautiful women that have passed through Celtic Woman decided to leave to come off the road and settle down. Some have also gone on to have solo music careers too.

2. I love many tracks in Destiny. My personal fave is How Can I Keep From Singing? What made you decide to record this song?

I love that song too but as a listener from the wings! We love Clannad and Eabha was taught by the lead singer Moya Brennan so it seemed ideal for her to sing it. 

3. I See Fire (for me) threatens to be better than the original. What’s the story behind the inclusion of this song?

We wanted to move towards the future whilst not forgetting what made people love the group in the first place. Ed Sherran has deep Irish heritage so his music is heavily influenced by that- especially this song. It’s very Irish folk in style and is also a modern one so it seemed like the perfect fit. I also love story telling and this song has such drama in it. 

4. You are back with your US Tour. Wow 85 Cities! How are you preparing mentally and physically for this marathon tour?

Well, personally I follow a plant based (vegan) lifestyle to keep myself healthy of mind, body and spirit and I also work out every day to keep my immune system strong. Lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, water and sleep when we can! 

5. Can you give young women tips on how to sing beautifully like Celtic Woman?

Just be yourself. Don’t try and mould yourself into who you think you should be. Accept yourself from within and sing from your heart. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is happy in herself. 

6. What’s next after the US Tour?

We have lots planned including a hopeful trip to Asia-then onto Australia and back to the states for our Christmas symphony tour where we get to perform gorgeous Christmas songs with a different orchestra every night. I am also recording a solo album with Celtic Woman in the summer when we get off the road which I’m super excited about! 

There you go 🙂
-Máiréad Nesbitt
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Robert Doyle Has  A Follow Up To A Life In Shadows:Lig Amach

Robert Doyle Has A Follow Up To A Life In Shadows:Lig Amach

Robert Doyle album cover

When: Friday 22nd April

Where:The Cobblestone Backroom, 77 King Street North, Dublin 7 Free admission 8.30pm

As a long time admirer of his music, I am happy to announce that Mr Doyle has finished a follow-up to his compelling album A Life in Shadows. It was well received among Celtic and Irish Music sites. If you love laid back songs written and performed around the voice and acoustic guitar then you better hear Lig Amach. I will be posting my own thoughts about the album soon!

Read more about the album through the press release:

ROBERT DOYLE ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM LIG AMACH

Featuring Sliabh Russell/Out on the Ocean https://youtu.be/WzcSe9TzkC4

Private Album stream (do not share) https://soundcloud.com/robertdoyle/sets/robert-doyle-lig-amach/s-XZsH4

ALBUM LAUNCH: Thursday April 28th The Cobblestone Backroom, 77 King Street North, Dublin 7 Free admission 8.30pm

“Fingerstyle guitar expert…. with a unique vocal edge” Irish Music Magazine    “… a new acoustic guitar maestro” R2 Magazine

Dublin fingerstyle guitarist and singer ROBERT DOYLE releases his second album Lig Amach on April 22nd followed by an album launch concert on April 28th in Dublin’s Cobblestone.  Admission to the concert will be free – as Robert explains as “a special thank you to my fans and supporters for their enthusiasm and support along the way”.

LIG AMACH (Let Out) is the follow up to his well received 2011 debut album Life in Shadows.  Mostly recorded in Dublin over the last year the album showcases his distinctive approach to writing & arranging for the guitar.  A collection of instrumentals, interpretations and self penned originals, Lig Amach vividly displays Robert’s dynamic playing & singing  – stretching from the roots of American folk singing and blues, Irish traditional through to classical & flamenco guitar techniques.  Watch the video for SLIABH RUSSELL/OUT ON THE OCEAN https://youtu.be/WzcSe9TzkC4

While the album features a number of thrilling collaborations, Robert sets down a challenge for himself when he performs live as he will perform entirely solo at the album launch on April 28th in Dublin’s Cobblestone “It really tests your abilities and you learn a great deal about the music when performing in front of an audience.  I choose to play solo so that there’s nowhere to hide on stage.  You learn a lot about yourself as a musician when it’s just you in the spotlight”.

Creativity runs in the Doyle family – the album cover photo was taken by Robert’s brother Eamonn Doyle who is an internationally recognised photographer.  Previously the brothers worked together – Robert as a studio engineer – on Irish label D1 Recordings run by Eamonn, who also founded the DEAF electronic festival.

Robert began playing guitar aged 8 and is a past student of renowned French-Algerian master musician Pierre Bensusan“Pierre is one of the top fingerstyle guitarists in the world but more so he’s also a fantastic musician.  By studying with him, I wanted to gain an insight into how he was able to master the instrument and develop his own individual style. After studying with Pierre, my focus changed from being a guitar player to becoming a better musician and to continue developing my own style”.   In previous years Robert has performed at Celtic Connections and the Moniaive Folk Festival.

Recording the album was a longer process than initially planned as Robert explains “I recorded the guitar and vocals in my home studio with additional instruments recorded in Dublin, London and Italy. Originally I had planned to record this album, like the first, in a studio with an engineer but I later made the decision to record it myself to have more flexibility. The first sessions for the album took place 3 years ago and didn’t go well so I had to go back to the drawing board.  I was only working on the album at weekends so the process was quite drawn out.  The guitar parts are all live recordings, something I’ve always tried to do.”

Like the last album 8 of the 10 tracks were mixed by Marc Carolan who works with Muse. Ross Dowling, who produced the last James Vincent McMorrow album also did a mix as well as Graham Watson from Floodplain Studios in Dublin.

Lig Amach is a departure for Robert in many ways from the first album with a keen focus this time on writing and performing in English.  “The songs on the previous EP and album were based around songs sung in Irish but for this release I wanted to explore singing in English more.”  ACROSS THE LINE was written in 2014 at the time Islamic State attacked and laid siege to Kobani in northern Syria, causing a massive number of people to flee across the border into Turkey.  FLAGS OF BELFAST, which has a traditional air, was written around the time of the Belfast City Hall flag protests while ROUND TWO is a song about a woman who won’t wait too long for a man to make up his mind!

Robert interprets and reimagines a number of covers on Lig Amach including the opening track AN SEANDUINE, a song he learnt from singing in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí  Éireann with this version taking inspiration from recordings by Seamus Begley and Danú.  COUNTRY BLUES is a song Robert learnt from Dock Boggs, an old-time banjo player from Virginia, first recorded in 1929.

Another progression on Lig Amach is Robert’s collaboration with a wide number of renowned musicians “After recording the demos I wanted to add some other instrumentation to the songs. The first collaboration was with Chris Haigh, a fiddle player I first heard on an Oumou Sangaré album.”  Francessco Ganassin (saxophone) and Magnus Mehta (percussion) also feature along with Aoife Dermody & uilleann piper Eoin Dillon on a collaboration, Flags of Belfast, which came out of a recording session in Floodplain Studios.

Lig Amach will be available from all digital outlets from April 22nd, from Claddagh Records and robertdoyle.net

facebook.com/robert.doyle

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For more information, images & interviews please contact:

ANN MARIE WALSH NOVATONE MUSIC MEDIA

Tel: 01 2018946 / 087 2460957 musicireland@hotmail.com @novatonemm

The Gloaming 2 is available most places today!

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This is going to be a short post as I am going to bed since I will have work later tonight but if you missed this, please pay attention sweeties:

From the band’s Facebook: So very happy to share that The Gloaming 2 is available most places today!

Pick it up at your favorite local shoppe or via iTuneshttp://smarturl.it/the-gloaming2-itunes & Amazon.com:  http://smarturl.it/the-gloaming-amazon— with Iarla O’lionairdMartin HayesCaoimhin O RaghallaighCaoimhín Ó RaghallaighMáirtín Ó hAodhaDennis CahillIarla O’LionairdMartin Hayes & Dennis CahillDennis Cahill and Thomas Bartlett.