Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Why a casual Celtic music fan would love North Star by singer/songwriter Kyle Carey-It has a universal appeal. 

Every album is a musical journey. The experience is always complete when one listens to all the tracks in the album (in the order they were recorded) instead shuffling.I think Kyle Carey has worked hard in recording every track in North Star. This is a follow -up to her highly acclaimed Monongah. Every nuance is given emphasis.

North star is a journey across continents. It has taken her to Scotland, in order to record the twelve tracks, each with its own story to tell. In the title track (Northern Star), she sings of how each point of light draws a constellation. Like the album itself, it is about seeing the bigger picture from the complexity of notes and melodies. We are part of each other. We are connected by this endless chain of histories. The album is a testament to the modern and ancient Celts. North Star Cover

Apart from the melodic merits, North Star has superb packaging and meticulous recording process.The music doesn’t intrude. Yes it draws you in because of the beautiful songs (this includes the instruments, the chords and yes the amazing voice of Kyle Carey). This is highly recommended for lovers of chill out pop and indie folk. Her sound has evolved. She blends Gaelic and English songs in this album seamlessly. Everything feels supple, organic and also healing.

The word north conjures many thoughts. One of them is the cold and quiet that an artist needs in the gestation period of his or her creativity. North Star is Polaris which has been embodied in a lot of myths. The fact that this album is produced by Seamus Egan proves that she is backed by stalwart talents.

North Star is one of the great releases of this decade. Everything works. Her vocals are more stretched and exploited as there are tracks where she lets those pipes loose. I love Sios Dhan An Abhainn. I got goose bumps listening to that song. It is my personal favorite. Across the Great Divide is also poignant and memorable.

And lastly…I love the album artwork. I think the images and overall design give justice to the feel of the album. Her persistence and professionalism has paid off. This started off as a crowdfunding project. This album proves that those who are passionate about this kind of music are out there! Now looking forward to the next album.

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I among those fascinated by the music of Breton singer/songwriter Cecile Corbel. It has something more to do with the melodies in her songs than her vocals or arrangements. Although it is worth noting that her arrangements are superb as well! She’s one of those artists celebrating the beauty of Breton music(the other one is Nolwenn Leroy). I think these two artists are the best  in terms of putting out Celtic music with pop appeal. She continues to dazzle our imagination with her Arthurian concept.

This is a captivating song called Entendez-vous from  La Fiancée. Would you agree it’s beautiful in all aspects?

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Celtic Colours Int’l Cape Breton, Canada

Celtic Colours continues to be an influential festival in North America. Great shows, fantastic artists and a wide array of genres (or colours). Here’s a Soundcloud sampler of music you get to hear when you attend the festival.

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I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Next, I will be writing about American group Soulsha: Afro-Celtic Funk, so watch out for this one.

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Have you heard of Morenn?

Have you heard of Morenn?

I discovered the music of Morenn after clicking the link posted by Francois Marchal of Caliorne on facebook. I think Morenn is a fascinating project and needs a good support from lovers of Breton Celtic music. There are three videos posted in their kisskissbankbank crowd Morennfunding project in which one of them I decided to post here. Their approach to music is eclectic, blending traditional Breton sounds and other World influences. The music is lively, optimistic and evokes the landscapes of Brittany.

Members of Morenn are Xavier Boderiou , Sylvain Barou and Pellen Jacques. The three  are the finest in the world of Breton music. I am quoting this interesting blurb from the site so you will have an idea what the project is all about:

The “Morenn” project is the result of the meeting between Xavier Boderiou, Sylvain Barou and Jacques Pellen around the classical music of Scottish bagpipes.The piobaireachd is usually performed solo. The songs here are unstructured, merging three instruments consistently. This unique creation combines bagpipes, guitar, flute, but also a hint of experimental music around a centenary book for an explosive result in imprecise, nebulous … Morenn.

Here is the link to the project site:http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/morenn

Throw your music map and dive!

Throw your music map and dive!

In this edition: Eve Williams, Clan Suibhne, Dom Duff, Colin Nea, Connie Dover , Mark Harmer and Planxty.

It is 2013. Four years after I officially launched this site. In the past four years, I met a lot of talented musicians and listened to their amazing music. In the past four years I met interesting readers who turned out to be bloggers too. In the past four years I poured my heart out, experienced joy and at some point almost lost my sanity. But I never gave up blogging and maintaining this site. Despite the personal earthquakes I experienced in this life, this one seems to be left unscathed. This is my baby. This is my love. It’s been four years. And here’s The Celtic Music Fan looking forward to more discoveries, more mistakes, more success and more joy! Let the fun begin again.

Eve Williams-Twenty Miles from Home

New CD from UK based singer/songwriter Eve Williams

Think of the soft approach of Cara Dillon and  the vocal power of Evanescence.

It is always a great experience when I discover new music. This is only possible without a map. Personal maps obscure our chances of finding something new out there. Especially when we are so used to the formula we created and the comfort zone we find hard to let go. I wondered if this is the same thing that ran inside the mind of Eve Williams when she created Twenty Miles from Home.

It is an eclectic album full of  surprises wrapped in a blanket of atmosphere. There are things that are consistently noticeable in the midst of variety. All the twelve tracks are melodic. Her voice is superb and full bodied. She is also a writer which explains her interesting lyrics references to classical literature.

In my other blog friend who is a guest blogger wrote about Music Theory. I think we have to admit that people who make artfully crafted music are those who at least in some part of their musical development, had undergone music studies. The maintaining discipline  in creating and also in the performing part is probably hard because music is such an emotional medium. It is easy to get lost and let everything rip through.

Twenty Miles from Home strikes me as a balance of  emotion and control. It is also a recording done with minimalist approach to instruments. This gives us a chance to hear how Eve can showcase her vocal talents. I sometimes find it hard to listen to something overly produced because you have a lot of sounds coming from every direction. Which in turn makes it hard to concentrate to the few aspects. But this album proves to be something that even listeners with short attention span can feast in.

I realized that listening to different systems also yield different results. When I listened to this through a computer, it didn’t give me too much probably due to the speakers. Then I put it in a CD player with good speakers. And the experience was something else. The whole album shimmers. The headphones also give you that intimate feel which focuses more on the nuances . I suggest you listen to all types of

Singer Eve Williams

Eve Williams

players and see which works for you.

Twenty Miles from Home is a beautiful album. Oblivion is one track with full arrangements and soaring vocals along with Tall Dark Stranger. These are orchestrated tracks. But I love the contrast of the spare arrangement on others like Broken Dolls (feat Scarlett Burnside), The Rock (feat. Dominik Boncza-Skrzynecki) and many more. Eve Williams is based in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is probably the beautiful landscapes that shaped her sound and sentiments. It it an album that can appeal to lovers of Sinead O’Connor, Cara Dillon and Evanescence. The combination of folk simplicity and operatic flourishes in her songs makes her one of the rising voices in the Irish music scene.

Older recordings

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Clan Suibhne Yank~Irish~Celtic Music Group‏

Clan Suibhne. Clan Suibhne They're Not Just a Band, They're a Clan  clansuibhnegreengrassmusic.blogspot.com

Clan Suibhne. Clan Suibhne They’re Not Just a Band, They’re a Clan
clansuibhnegreengrassmusic.blogspot.com

Their unique “Roots” music, dubbed “Greengrass,” is a blend of traditional Irish/Celtic meets American Folk/Bluegrass tunes.  “This genre existed long before the music we know as bluegrass. We were very surprised, but so honored to win an award for our music,” says Charles (C.W.) Farrell. The three Farrell brothers and cousin John Curran have become well known around the “Irish Riviera” for their signature style. They incorporate traditional instruments, including  the mandolin and banjo, into traditional Irish music.

Celtic music is a family affair. You can see this in bands like Clannad, The Corrs, The Rankins among others. It is no surprise when a lot of American Irish bands are consist of family members. Irish and Scottish music have grown into stellar proportions in the United States in the past few years. This is an exciting age to start your own Celtic band because even though you can’t find listeners in your hometown, you know that there is this whole wild world which is the Internet. There will always be  listeners for you out there!

Clan Suibhne (pronounced Sweeney)are a band based in New Jersey. They play acoustic music combining their Yank-Irish-Celtic Roots which they fondly mention in their website.  Like I mentioned, they are a family group, acoustic and fun. They do solo, duo, trio & quartet arrangements throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York Tristate area.

This St Patrick’s Day 2013, they are scheduled to play at the Historical National Hotel in Frenchtown, NJ…and will be appearing at many other venues throughout the months of February, March and April 2013. Sounds like fun! Do check them out if you are in the area.

http://www.reverbnation.com/clansuibhne
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clan-Suibhne/240984553900
http://clansuibhnegreengrassmusic.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/ClanSuibhne

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Connie Dover and what makes her amazing.

If you’ve been a listener since 1993(her debut album came out in 1991) and now it is 2013..surely there is something about Connie Dover. She is considered as one of the stalwarts in the Celtic genre. I think she is underrated considering the achievements she has. I don’t think I am totally biased when I say that being an American singer, she took such challenging steps in making sure she breaths authenticity in her every recording. Even to the point when she has to sing in Latin of Scots/Irish Gaelic.

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Before going solo, Connie Dover fronted this Missouri based bluegrass group. She is one American singer I really respect because her music is based in hard research and she yes she sings in Gaelic.

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Si Beag, Si Mhor

This composition by the famous Irish composer O’Carolan landed into facebook discussion with my friend Ralph who plays the tin whistle. I am so glad he raised this discussion up so I was able to do further research about the song. I discovered the other versions. There are many out there but I will just post two of them here. These are fine interpretations. I am crazy for uilleann pipes and that is why the one from Planxty appears in this edition. I am also a big fan of harp music specifically the Celtic harp. So let us get to know a wee bit more of this music.

Picture. Mark Harmer gauntssummergathering.com

Picture. Mark Harmer gauntssummergathering.com

In English it means: Little hill, big hill. It’s a reference to the fairy kingdoms.
It’s also translated as “it’s little, it’s big.”It’s sometimes titled “Sidhe Bheag, Sidhe Mhor” The tune is by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738). O’Carolan’s works were published by his son in 1747. According to this timeline “Si Bheag Si Mhor” was the first piece O’Carolan composed upon the completion of his harp apprenticeship (1691).

According to Ralph: “I think a closer translation is ‘big hill, little hill’. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with a war of fairy clans but I’d like to know how the story goes. Wanna know who owned w/c hill and who won in the end.” Here we have two versions. The first one by Planxty and the second one by Celtic harper Mark Harmer:

Note: An in depth research by harpist Scott Hoye suggested a new light to the trivia on top  . According to his source, Si Beg Si Mor is in fact a Scottish Tune, The Bonny Cuckoo. O’Carolan used the tune, made popular by the Ulster Scots, and wrote Irish lyrics for it. His poem was about the battle between two Faerie kingdoms. My big thanks to Scott for the info about this classic.

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Babel Pow Wow by Dom Duff

Breton musician Dom Duff is working on a new album. He is requesting the help of Breton music enthusiasts to help fund this project. As I

Dom Duff Babel Pow Wow Proje

Dom Duff Babel Pow Wow Project

said  in a conversation with a musician that music is a community. You get what you give. Dom Duff is very passionate about the culture of Brittany and its people. He  was also one of our featured artists way back .

I chatted with him a few days ago. He was trying to put a video project to promote the album. This involves people speaking in their own dialects from all over the world. The video you see below is just one of the many he is trying to create between music session. This man in really busy these days!

Please check this one out:

More here: http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/dom-duff-album-babel-pow-wow-2013

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Wonderful Review of trad album by Colin Nea

Fair play to Colin Nea on a great review from TradConnect-Enda Seery: http://tradconnect.com/profiles/blogs/album-review-colin-nea-between-the-jigs-the-reels

Colin Nea and Enda Seery are cousins. They are also very supportive of each others music projects. The proud Enda was posting and tweeting about this wonderful review of his album Between the Jigs & the Reels with Jack Talty on a piano. I haven’t talked to Colin Nea yet but I have exchanges several pleasant messages with Enda. He is also releasing an album this year and I am sure Colin is going to advertise it too. It is great to see trad music growing. It is composed of family relations jamming together or with other musicians. Like I’ve mentioned before: Irish music is a family affair.

The Harp Village, Catriona McKay and Bagad Kemper

Plus today in pictures: Cheers+Greenland Whalefishers and The Electric Light Programme.

With readership and endorsements growing, it is easy for me to have CONTINUITY. It is great to mix and match music. And you know what’s fun?Having to write sooo little yet expose so MUCH music. What are we having for weeks to come? We will have Corrina Hewat, novelist Karen Victoria Smith, Calum Stewart and Will Tun and the Wasters. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will have MORE!

Corrina Hewat is promoting Harp Village. The last event happened in 2010. September is going to be exciting!

The harp village 2012

Friday September 28th – Sunday September 30th

in venues all round Cromarty

I went and checked Cromarty Arts Trust and it is really an amazing venue:

It says Cromarty Arts Trust was established in 1987

Aims and objectives

  • To support the conservation of buildings of historical or architectural importance
  • To promote the advancement of education
  • To encourage the conservation of natural features, landscape, ecology and character of the area
  • To stimulate public interest in the history, character, beauty and wildlife of the area
  • To nurture artistic activity, locally nationally and internationally.

In pursuance of these aims we have raised over £1 million for the following purposes:

Restoration and conversion of three architecturally important buildings in Cromarty

The Brewery, restored in 1989 and now operated as the Cromarty Training Centre; The Stables, a Listed Grade A building restored in 1995; and Ardyne, a fine example of a merchant’s house restored in 1994.

More of that info here: http://www.cromartyartstrust.org.uk/the-trust.asp

Corrina Hewat burning the harp strings photo taken by Dougie Cunningham

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More of Catriona McKay


http://www.catrionamckay.co.uk/
http://www.myspace.com/catrionamckayharp

Don’t forget the amazing set by Catriona McKay. See Olov Johansson & Catriona McKay at Chief O’Neill’s on Fri the 7th!

You will see more of this delicate playing when you go watch the performance.

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Music from Brittany: Bagad Kemper

Guéna Lamour: Road-trip West Coast /Australia

Guéna Lamour was part of the Celtic/pop group Meliouank playing the keyboards though  his main instrument is the bombarde. Right now he is devoting his energy to a group called Bagad Kemper and at the same time practicing for the duet competition of traditional music with a singer. Every year there is a big  competition the first week of September, of the best duets of traditional music in Brittany. Bagad Kemper does something really exciting to Breton music and I am sure after seeing these videos you’d agree.

This is more like a rehearsal.

You can see his performance focused around 5:13 of this video

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Today in Pictures: Cheers+Greenland Whalefishers 24.08.2012

Pictures courtesy of HDF hlava derava foto

More here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.277861422319237.52706.166597480112299&type=1

This is the aftermath of the most anticipated event in Celtic punk history within the Czech Republic.  Greenland Whalefishers from Norway shared the stage with Cheers, both bands playing highly charged melodic punk tunes forged through the spirit of Paddy Rock. Check out this link and also add the band to your favorites to get the latest gig updates.

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http://kclr96fm.com/the-eclectic-light/the-eclectic-light-programme-studio-2-sessions-michael-brunnock-2582012/

P.S.

KCLR 96 FM is a radio station in Carlow Kilkenny Ireland. This station covers new and old music. This link below is a recorded show from Martin Bridgeman. He has a guest in the studio Michael Brunnock and you would hear music and conversation. Martin does interesting things in his show. Have a listen.

From Martin Bridgeman:

“We’re all good. Some good news on the show front. I’ll have an interview and tunes from on Sunday from Mick McAuley and Winnie Horan from Solas and another Kilkenny Musician Colm O’Caoimh. And if all goes well, I’ll have an interview with Jacqui McShee from Pentangle shortly”…

http://www.myspace.com/theeclecticlightprogramme

Yn Chruinnaght’s CD ‘The Gathering’

Yn Chruinnaght’s CD ‘The Gathering’ is an exciting collection of Celtic music featuring twelve tracks donated by artists who have played at the festival over the years. The Gathering CD will raise vital funds for future events.

Those involved in the Manx music festival Yn Chruinnaght took a bold step with The Gathering. It is a compilation CD with 12 songs. These tracks were carefully selected and they all represent what is good, new and beautiful about the Yn Chruinnaght festival in the Isle of Man. Yn Chruinnaght (which also stands for the English word The Gathering)  was made up of tracks kindly donated by various artists who joined the festival throughout the years.

I have to be honest, it is hard to choose which is the best track. The Gathering is a CD that boasts wonderful tracks from bands that have been part of the festival through the years. From the enchanting hammer dulcimer of Cornish band Leski, to the perky accordion of Jamie Smith’s Mabon; everything in this album shines and enriches the soul.

The tracks and artists are:

Three spires/Tregajorran furry – Leski (Cornwall) Hammer dulcimer along with irresistible rhythm makes this the best choice as an opening track. Everything about Leski celebrates the beauty of Cornish music.

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Ah, que les femmes y sont betes d’obeir a leur mari – Trio Froger (Brittany) The tempo represents Breton dances. A trio of accordion, fiddle and lead vocals.

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Our ship did sail/If young men could swim – Sheear (Isle of Man) Meaning ‘West’, Sheear is an all girl band made up of musicians and singers who come together in between playing in other bands. Whistles, fiddles, piano, flute and vocals make this track a magical listening experience.

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Mae gen i fuwch – Never Mind The Bocs (Wales) The great thing about the Celtic language is that you don’t have to understand it, to appreciate the sound it makes. Such is the case of this Welsh track from this five-piece band. From Cajun to ceilidhs, via Blues and folk-rock, the contemporary approach of Never Mind The Bocs will charm lovers of Dougie McLean and Planxty.

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Just for Sean – Leo McCann (Scotland) What he can do with button box and tin whistle will find you tapping your feet and rocking your body. Leo has recorded over twenty albums. This track is an example of his fine musicianship distilled through years of playing in his own solo albums as well as other bands. Hands down! This is one of the great trad music I heard in ages.

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In with the bricks – Pipedown (Scotland) I wrote about them in my previous article and hearing this track proves my point that they are a force in the Scottish folk scene. In With the Bricks applies the skillful ease of poly-rhythms and the mellifluous sound of the small pipes.

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Kishtey ny yindyssyn – Staa (Isle of Man) A little bit on the groovy side with the infusion of reggae, bossa and vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys, Staa will warm you to their music right away.

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Sumach – Scoot (Cornwall) Trad driven with hints of jazz and funk this Cornish band will enchant lovers of traditional Irish and Scottish music. The undeniable command of skill and technique are displayed in this wonderful track which is a duet between acoustic guitar and flute.

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Bonny broom – Imrama (Ireland) After thirteen years of playing, this track shows the refinement of this band. Influences of Planxty, Sweeney’s Men, The Bothy Band, and Steeleye Span are evident in their recordings.

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Kilmartin sky – Rachel Hair (Scotland) I became a fan of her music and I wrote about her band in my previous post. Rachel is the best Scotland has to offer in terms of harp playing. Delicate and haunting, this track celebrates the power of Celtic music through nuance and grace. A truly enriching and perky listening experience that made me tap my foot as the track gathers rhythm when it reaches the middle part.

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Derriere chez moi, ‘y a un etang – Chal ha Dichal, with vocals by Lors Landat (Brittany); The reason why I am crazy about Breton music is because of the energy and passion all Breton performers give when they sing or record albums. This track shines with so much positive energy that I end up smiling after.

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Fiddler’s despair – Jamie Smith’s Mabon (Wales) Well, introduction is not needed when you talk about this band. Energy and skill are consistent with their every track. Despite the title, Fiddler’s despair is a joy to listen to.

I think everyone who loves Celtic music should get this album. It only features the best and the brightest from the Celtic nations. The album features a beautiful photo by Dimitar Pentchev with a nice album artwork by Adam Rhodes. It also boasts an informative liner notes. I think liner notes are very important. Dave Rowles made a great arrangement in this compilation CD.

Special thanks to Laura Rowles for this wonderful treat.

You can buy the CD here: http://www.ynchruinnaght.com/cd/

Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival – 14-21 July 2012

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Mona Douglas, the founder of Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival. Throughout her life Douglas was passionate about promoting and supporting Celtic culture, and she was respected throughout the Celtic world for this. Douglas had a vision of a Manx national festival, and this resulted in Yn Chruinnaght being started in 1977. However, unfortunately she did not live long enough to appreciate the huge success of her legacy.
Yn Chruinnaght aims to foster cultural relations between the Celtic nations, whilst also working to promote Manx culture, both on the Island and further abroad. The festival features performers from all of the Celtic countries in various venues throughout the Island. As well as music and dance performances, the festival also includes language events, lectures, workshops, art exhibitions, and fantastic sessions.
This year promises to be a particularly exciting festival, with the line-up so far including Scottish fiddle supergroup, Blazin’ Fiddles, mighty Breton band, Forzh Penaos, progressive Cornish group, Pentorr, and the extremely talented Rua Macmillan Trio. Manx bands that will be appearing include new Manx trio, Barrule, Strengyn, and Nish as Rish, who had the honour of winning the Trophée Loïc Raison at Lorient festival last year.
The festival offers much to keep visitors occupied throughout the week; however, there is still plenty of time to explore the beautiful Island. The Isle of Man boasts fantastic beaches, striking mountains, and picturesque glens, and has attractions to suit everyone.
For more information on the festival, see www.ynchruinnaght.com or email ynchruinnaght@manx.net
For more information about the Isle of Man, see www.visitisleofman.com