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.

natalie_donnell

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.

***

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.

 

 

Advertisements
Video premiere of new Van Morrison album!

Video premiere of new Van Morrison album!

Van Morrison will release his brand new album ‘Keep Me Singing’ on September 30th on CD, Gatefold Vinyl & download. You can pre-order the album on CD/Vinyl + Lithograph from the official store here:http://po.st/KeepMeSingingStore

Hooray! The legend is releasing a new album next month and this video is a teaser of what’s to come. I admire the simplicity of the music video. No frills. Just the singer-songwriter backed by other musicians in the studio. Too Late is the first single off the upcoming apbum ‘Keep me Singing. It has the eclectic elements that Morrison is known for.

I never got into his music until the mid-nineties when The Chieftains released The Long Black Veil (feat. other artists like Sinead O’Connor, Tom Jones and Sting among others) and I noticed the beauty of his voice. It is a very expressive, bleeding instrument. Watch out for Keep Me Singing at the end of September and I am sure fans will be showered by the greatness of his talents once more!

Peregreni by Eve Williams:Preview and Thoughts

Peregreni by Eve Williams:Preview and Thoughts

Northern Irish singer-songwriter Eve Williams has carved a musical path that is not for the faint of hearts. It is not easy to just have a beautiful voice and songwriting skills these days. You gotta have grit. And grit is the very thing that pushed the release of her new album Peregreni. The new album has nine songs-a labor of love and took a lot of time to make. Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.05.16 AM

Although Williams did not encounter any writer’s block after the release of Twenty Miles From Home, health issues along with other personal challenges almost drained her creative energy. Yet those challenges did not deter her from finishing these nine songs. You can hear the inner strength in each of them. Even if her lyrics talk of something else, her voice is unmistakably saying, I’ve been through a lot. This is my story.

With her supple Mezzo-soprano, Eve Williams can glide between power ballads and Celtic folk with remarkable ease. Peregreni is a delightful album that showcases her songwriting genius and impeccable power of interpretation.

The album will be released on June 10, 2016. I am so glad to get a preview and I think with Peregreni, Williams has achieved another musical height that is more confident than her previous efforts. The album sees her growth both as a poet and arranger. This is also a work of endless chores in front of the computer (if she is not with her piano)mastering Excel and also Accounting.

Yes, all musicians should be taught accounting and how to use Excel!!! She replied in one of our online conversations about the plight of indie artists.

I get the feeling that Illumination is going to be a single off this album because it has this catchiness that is pure pop, even though the song is grounded on acoustic folk and gospel. Her voice sounds at home with a big bands(complete with strings). But there are also moments when her simple arrangements shine through like the haunting Ailsa Craig. Big voices are a trend these days and I think Eve Williams has this lighthouse effect that will continue to attract travellers from all walks of life.

Peregreni will soon be available here: http://evewilliamsmusic.com/store/cdbaby_store/

Flow by Nua: The Great Sound Of The Outdoors

Flow by Nua: The Great Sound Of The Outdoors

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 7.48.00 PM

Flow is a follow-up to their highly acclaimed debut album Bold. And they satisfy music fans once again!

I have the habit of bringing my huge speakers outside while chilling in my hammock. This happens every morning because I work at night.On most days the music consist of Spotify playlist-the current stuff, whither its chilled or lively tunes. There are days when I like playing Celtic music because it is good to listen to when it rains.

So I pumped up the copy of Flow which is the newest album by Canadian trio Nua. I got a positive reaction from people who happened to be nearby when they heard the tracks off the album. My cousin who was in the kitchen remarked that the music makes her want to dance, without being intrusive or noisy. She has a point. The trio have always maintained a minimal approach in their sound while maintaining that positive and uplifting style. Flow is not an exception. The tracks all go together and they have this fresh, clean and golden feeling in them.

Why golden? The music reminds me of the outdoors. It’s like sunrise against your face when you wake up in the morning. James M Law has really established his  emotional style of fiddling underneath the controlled delivery. Graeme McGillivray has a kind of playing style where his guitar sounds whispy, almost transparent. Jacob McCauley(who is my bodhran hero) has maintained that expressive mastery of the instrument that talks to you. If percussion can speak, then that has got to be the way he plays.

Flow promises to satisfy traditional music fans. The album has twelve tracks. The range of styles explored are Jazz, folk and world. There is something here for everyone. Even if you are not  hard core trad/instrumental fan , you will like Flow as proven by the reaction I got from bystanders. It is hard to choose a favourite as all tracks are beautiful in their own way. But Wide Open is a good introduction to the mood of the whole album. Like I said, Flow is the sound of the outdoors, the sound singing streams and the dance of sunlight against your face. Smuggler Cove is also a favourite due to the interesting arrangement. I don’t know if Ghostrider was inspired by the film but hey, whatever floats their boat right? Law, McGillivray and McCauley have created another masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Time to grab the album and share it with everyone.

Visit: http://www.trionua.com for more info about the trio.

Irish Guitarist Robert Doyle Talks About His New Album Lig Amach (Video)

Irish Guitarist Robert Doyle Talks About His New Album Lig Amach (Video)

I am one of the lucky people who got the chance to preview the new album Lig Amach by Irish guitarist Robert Doyle. So glad he agreed to this interview format. I gave him written questions and he answered them in video form and then I put everything together. Nothing fancy. And I think you would agree that simplicity is indeed a thing of beauty!

Lig Amach is going to be released on Friday 22nd of April. A live performance on the 28th will follow. This is a beautiful album! I highly recommend it as a 5 out of 5 stars!

Robert Doyle album cover

Visit: http://robertdoyle.net

How about an afternoon of Buille by Buille Beo?

How about an afternoon of Buille by Buille Beo?

Niall Vallely – concertina

Caoimhin Vallely -piano

Ed Boyd – guitar

Brian Morrissey – bodhrán/percussion

Kenneth Edge – soprano saxophone

Recorded live at Ionad Cultúrtha an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh, Baile Mhúirne,

Co. Chorcaí – Eanáir 2015

Engineered by Dan Fitzgerald

Assisted by Chris Moore

Mixed and Mastered by Dan Fitzgerald @ SoundSound Studios, Cork

Design by Brian Hanlon @ Og Media Group

Photography by Eddie Hennessy

Buille:A beautiful musical treat for a lazy afternoon by robust Irish musical group.

Live recordings are challenging. Unlike studio sessions where you can just edit things you want to change, playing like is one directional. The ambience also adds to the ‘flavour’ of the sound as you hear clapping from the audience, perhaps the sound of birds, the breeze and the little noise that make the recording ‘human.’

Buille Beo presents a robust body of different sounds recorded live-which I learned- in the beautiful surroundings of the Ionad Cultúrtha in Baile Bhúirne, West Cork. There are twelve beautiful tracks. I love classical and jazz music and Buille Beo covers those territories, though it is primarily a traditional album.

It’s a lazy afternoon today so I explored their latest release which is already reviewed by TradConnect. So how does a casual listener respond to their music if I cite myself as an example? It is an album for those who like chilled but mainly acoustic music. I found myself staring at the ceiling and savouring the piano melodies that fall like gentle rain. I feel this in Belharbour. It is true that if you love classical music, jazz and blues then you will easily appreciate traditional Irish music.

I also love In A Silent Way because of its intimate nature. It is a slow tune that is good for meditation and staring out the window-especially if the scenery is the magnificent West Cork! Whatso grabs me because of the chords and the feeling of suspense associated with jazz music. It starts slow then builds up into a frenzy release of sounds  like fireworks.albumcover

Buille Beo is a beautiful and strangely delicate album that has a universal appeal. Its beauty lies in the arrangements and the technique of these wonderful musicians. As you listen repeatedly, the album creates that mesmerizing hypnotic feeling. It transports you into an urban countryside as the album evokes the feeling of both places.

Purchase the album via iTunes and visit their official website: www.buille.com

The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

I am enjoying the new album of Caitlin Grey called The Promise. One thing I noticed upon playing this album for the first time is her beautiful and supple voice. It has the ease of a folk singer and the refined muscle of a classically trained vocalist. She uses these influences seamlessly in this new album, consisting of twelve songs.There are original songs as well as interpretation of traditional materials. I love her rendition of She Moved Through The Fair because of its melodic simplicity and emotional power. a1763992850_16

The title track is something that will please fans of Clannad, Loreena McKennitt and Anuna or even Secret Garden. Her arrangements are also spot on. I love the drumming on this one because it sounds almost like a pop ballad. But then again we know that with Ms Grey, every song can be a magical journey between classical and folk.

Her approach to singing tells you  this is how to sing these songs. Yes, especially these kinds of songs because it takes a special artist to pull this off. Because in the hands(or throat) of an ordinary singer, they will sound weird. These songs choose a singer and that singer is Caitlin Grey. I love it when she harmonises in some songs.They sound whispery, airy and crystal clear. I love the style of Innisfrie because I love movie soundtracks. Ailein Duinn is haunting  especially with the harp. An original from Scottish group Capercaillie for the movie Rob Roy. I love her singing in Scottish Gaelic. She maintained the beauty of the original but added her own unique style.

I love ballads that build up gradually. And this is the style that is present in most of the songs in The Promise. Black is the Color is another personal favourite. She sings that sense of loss where words fail.

In My Awakening, I like that part of the chorus where she sings the line “..When all my life fades away in tomorrow..” deeply moving! In Anam Cara, her voice is a powerful instrument that can transport us to anywhere in the world where she wants to take us. Call of the Clans closes this wonderful album with an arrangement that can rival any operatic aria. Listen to the latin chants at the end of the song. If that does not conjure something in you, then you are not human.

The Promise is a work of magnificent sound craftsmanship and artistic maturity. Looking forward to her third album!

I love Skipinnish!

I love Skipinnish!

image

Randomness is beautiful. I stumbled upon this group while looking for a Science documentary on YouTube mobile. They appeared on my feed. The name itself is interesting. Skipinnish. I was sure it’s Scottish. I watched Walking in Waves featuring a woman with red hair throwing bottles in the ocean. These bottles contain messages. With a great surprise at the end of the video. Ok, I was impressed

Then I watched December which is their latest single. And that’s it. I became a fan. The music is haunting, beautiful and unforgettable.

Current line-up consists of:
Angus MacPhail: Accordion, Vocals
Andrew Stevenson: Highland Bagpipes, Small Pipes, Whistles, Fiddle.
Robert Robertson: Lead Singer, Guitar
Ross Wilson: Piano, Bass
Alasdair Murray: Drums, Highland Bagpipes

Regular Guest Musicians Also Include:
Archie McAllister: Fiddle
Duncan Nicholson: Small Pipes, Bagpipes, Whistles

Listening to Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle by The Rathmines

Listening to Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle by The Rathmines

It’s been a while since I checked my Celtic Music Fan Facebook inbox. I got a neat message from these German artists. I am enjoying their new album. They have a general appeal as they combine folk, rock, reggae and traditional Irish. A really fun album you should listen when you are depressed.I am attaching the note below:

I hope this finds you well! We are The Rathmines, 4 guys from Berlin, Germany addicted to folk (mostly Irish plus own compositions). We make folk which locates somewhere between The Clancy Brothers and The Pogues but mostly with a critical or political attitude. Last year we released our first album “Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle” and after we celebrated it with numerous gigs in and outside of Berlin I think it is now about time to widen our audience. Whether getting featured, reviewed or put on a playlist we think it is worth to lend us an ear and see what we’ve done with 16 songs (including 4 own songs) in the living room of our singer. I admit – it is not the same without a chanting and beer drinking crowd in the background. Enough text now – if you like to take a listen, you find our album playable on bandcamp (www.therathmines.bandcamp.com). If you like it I am happy to send one or the other copy of our CD over.

In the social media world you find us here:

Website: www.therathmines.de

Twitter: https://twitter.com/therathmines

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjqdfRC8bbe5XAxpemejP7Q

Facebook: http://www.facebook.de/therathmines

Bandcamp: therathmines.bandcamp.com

Songkick: https://www.songkick.com/artists/8249003-rathmines

Reverbnation: http://www.Reverbnation.com/therathmines

So far from my end and a happy week!

René

Get your copies of The Widening Gyre by Altan now!

Get your copies of The Widening Gyre by Altan now!

The title The Widening Gyre appeals to us and depicts the spiral of life, widening and embracing the new. It has an innate energy. We think that idea is reflected in the album’s music,” says Mairéad.

Every Altan release is defined by craft and experience. The Widening Gyre is no exception. It just goes to prove that Altan continues to feel the excitement and growth of their music after being together for so many years. Batch mates include Clannad and the Domhnaill siblings (and you see them together in concerts and tours occasionally). Maggie’s Pancakes is the first single off The Widening Gyre which was presented on the RTE One sessions. The music is irresistible which is something that Altan have given us through the years. I have read so many positive reviews and my newsfeed is flowering with links posted by fans of the band.altan-widening-gyre-600

At the centre of this artistic band is the fiddler extraordinaire Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh. I follow her on social media not solely for her talent but also for her advocacy. She is a staunch supporter of causes that matter in Ireland and the world. She is really outspoken with her beliefs. Traditional Irish musicians have been pigeonholed as people who are just mainly concerned with the stye of music that they’re playing – which is reasonable given the kind of discipline that goes to the mastery of the instruments. But this revelation proves that the traditional music community is constantly evolving comprising of people who are forward thinkers and visionaries. It is a great genre with great people around it.

So if you have not yet gotten your copy of The Widening Gyre by Altan, you better get one! The music will embrace you and keep you happy through troubled times.