FolkWorld #44 03/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Chris Newman "Still getting away with it"
Old Bridge Music, 2010

Chris Newman is a guitarist from the UK and known for his work with harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh (who is on this solo album as well), Boys of the Lough and many others. His solo work is highly appreciated and this new album contains eighteen new recordings, both traditional and original work by Newman. Backed by a nice band he brings a kind of folk-pop light. A great guitarist, but I’m personally not always found of his bit middle of the road way of arranging the music. Occasionally I’m surprised by the strong interpretation of a traditional, but on the other side the album contains songs that I would almost classify as elevator music like Torrevieja. It’s an album with two faces. Solid craftsmanship but also a musician who wants to please and keeps the music predictable and riskless.
© Eelco Schilder

Trondheimsolistene "In folk style"
2L, 2010

The Trondheimsolistene is a classical ensemble from the Norwegian town Trondheim. Their work is highly appreciated and after Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart they keep it close to home with their new, double Grammy nominated, album In folk style. The album is a hybrid SACD – Blu-ray double disc recorded with the newest recording techniques. That sounds interesting but that only matters when the music if of the same high quality and it is. The ensemble proves with this album the folk roots of Grieg and the quality of nyckelharpa player and composer Emilia Amper and fiddler and composer Gjermund Larsen. With a rich sound the ensemble and it’s soloists plays a fantastic version of Grieg’s Suite from Holberg’s time and Ttwo Nordic melodies op. 63. Followed a folk suite for nyckelharpa and string orchestra written and played by Amper and folk suite for fiddle and string orchestra played and composed by Larsen. The traditional theme’s are interweaved into the melodic music and played in a passionate way. This album brings the best of this string ensemble and shows the deep connection between classical and folk music. Add the great sound quality and you can imagine this is a wonderful production.
© Eelco Schilder

Uchsummer "Ymai"
Sketis Music, 2010

Stepanida "Impressio"
Sketis Music, 2010

Olchey "Shuga"
Sketis Music, 2010

Opycham "s.t.i.h.i."
Sketis Music, 2008

Bylina "About Dobrynya"
Sketis Music, 2010

Oktay "That we should build"
Sketis Music, 2010

A few years ago I was surprised by a pile of albums from the Russian Sketis label. I think an unique label that gives us the opportunity to hear the musical history of the many cultures that are united in this immense country. Just when I was about to start wondering what happened to this label, a new pile of six albums arrived with again a wide variety of styles. In this review I take you on a journey to six corners of Russia. The first album is by Uchsummer and is called Ymai. This trio brings music from the Khakassian and Altai region which are both situated in Siberia. They recorded eleven folksongs from heroic songs to a more modern folk song style. With regional instruments such as the tchatkan , a kind of cittern, khomys and Yykh which are both two string instruments and percussion on the orba and tuur amongst other instruments. Typical for the sound of the band is the mixture of the low throat singing and airy female vocals. The musical arrangements are pure and simple and the trio knows how to use their possibilities in an effective way. Like in other cultures from these regions, you will hear sounds and rhythms of the horses, a bit sad ballads and energetic modern folk songs. The CD has eight bonus tracks which are recordings by the region’s most legendary folk singer called Alisa Kyzlasova, who has been a big inspiration for the band. Eight songs with Kyzlasova her expressive vocals only, a very nice addition to this album to show where a modern acoustic folk group gets his inspiration from.
For the second album we stay in Siberia. It’s the new album by an international respected singer called Stepanida and is called Impressio. She comes from the Siberian republic Yakutia and since many years she is a highly respected singer an actress. On this new album she sings nine songs in, what she calls Toyuk style. That means tradition mixed with electric music and jazz. With musicians from all over the world she creates an international accessible sound. Her typical, staccato way of singing has a very own sound and is not the easiest vocal style to listen to. But because she chooses a modern, almost Western approach her music is a very nice mixture of authentic styles and easy going, a bit standard, international music.
The third album comes from a crossover group called Olchey and on their album Shuga they mix European and Asian influenced styles into a very own sound. With musicians from Tuva and Karelia the band tries to experiment and wants to create an intercultural dialogue with both tradition and modern possibilities sounding through in their music. The final result of this project are four long tracks where the band improvises and creates a dreamy atmosphere in Aldan Maadry a more earthy, Tuva sounding style in Beezhin kydat an electronic, spacey sound in Oskus-ool Yry and a rhythmic end with Chavadak. It’s nice to hear how the musicians experiment and do their best to unite their quality, tradition and ideas in four new compositions. Sometimes it still feels a bit like they are still searching for the right sound but the overall idea is nice and good sounding experimental roots-electronic music. Well, talking about long tracks.
The fourth album comes from Opycham which is a project by the Yat kha drummer Evgeny Tkachov who creates his own universe with his deep, warm voice and subtle percussion. The album starts with a rainy day and from the moment Tkachov starts to sing he catches my attention totally. With hypnotic rhythms and soft spiritual chanting he impresses and reaches deep into my body and mind. Unbelievable how he keeps my attention with minimalistic percussion, small changes in sounds and with the richness and pureness of his performance. It’s an album that calms me down and crawls under my skin. A very special experience.
The fifth album is very different than the previous ones. Bylina performed by Scobelev. This is a collection of Russian heroic epic songs. The richness of these recordings are the lyrics which are unfortunately in Russian and there are no English translation available. A pity, because this vocal only album sounds nice but after a few tracks, sound only is not enough to keep my attention. I want to know where this singer, who has a very nice voice and expression in his way of singing, tells about. The less accessible album in this review for non-Russians I think.
The last album in this review comes from the Oktay ensemble. Founded twenty years ago, this ensemble sings spiritual poems from the culture of Staro vera, the so called old believers who live in remote mountain areas close to the Siberian Yenisei river. It’s a very strong culture with people who kept their faith and preserved their own culture in a pure way. The album contains impressive ( harmony) vocal work. You will immediately notice the spiritual atmosphere in the songs and the intensity of the interpretations by the young singers. A very nice way to end this review of six unique Russian albums. All with their own style, their own sound, own culture and own atmosphere.
© Eelco Schilder

Mel d’oro "Another Glass of Wine"
Own label, 2010

Flutterband Trio "Bach Tunes and Free Tango"
Edition 46, 2010

Uwaga! "Rich Man"
Holz Records, 2010

Three albums by totally different string bands, all from Germany. The first one is the band called Mel d’oro with their second album called Another Glass of Wine. This is the quintet second album with arrangements made by Mart Heijmans of mainly traditional Jewish tunes. The album shows the same promising sound as the debut CD, sweet, melodic and almost romantic string music on violins, guitars and bass. A mixture of known and lesser known tunes, always played technically very well, but personally I prefer a more adventures approach, it’s very, how to say…decent music. Nothing wrong with that, but compared with the first album I miss a new sound, they let the story continue were they left us with their debut CD.
From a quintet to a trio called the Flutterband trio with their album Bach tunes and free tango. On violin, piano and bass the trio used parts of Bach compositions and changed them into a kind of free tango-jazz style, nice experimental sound and believe me or not, Bach was actually a passionate tango composer! Intriguing how the musicians change the classical theme’s into a powerful, energetic and well played modern tango styled compositions. The three musicians show their quality in both beautiful, wild and sad violin parts, simple but well placed and effective bass lines and a piano player that lets his piano dance and brings an extra energy to the music. A very nice album which brings you the hidden Argentinean soul of Bach. Wonder if he secretly knew he had this hidden somewhere in his body and soul.
The third German based band is called Uwaga and exists out of three string instruments and an accordion. On this album the quartet plays worldwide known songs like If I were a rich man, mama, Bei mir bist du schön mixed with Brahms Hungarian dance and Piazolla’s Oblivion. This quartet is a theater group, they play to please the audience. Riskless standard arrangements of the known tunes, predictable and although played really well, a standard repertoire without a unique own sound that makes them different from many other groups who play such like music. Would be interesting for a nice evening of relaxation at the local theatre, but it doesn’t work for me at home in the living room.
© Eelco Schilder

Uwaga "Achtung"
Holz Records, 2010

Uwaga is a young and dynamic German quartet with two violins, accordion and a bass. All four musicians have their own passion in jazz, folk, tradition or other styles. They are part of several ensembles and orchestra and together they have an impressive biography. Achtung is their second album which includes thirteen tracks taken from classical composers, traditions, more modern composers and a few own compositions. The play of the four musicians is of high quality. Their music is a nice blend of gypsy swing, jazz, tango, classical theme’s, soundtrack and so on. Their light, open minded sound is very pleasant to listen to. The recordings are well done and I’m pretty sure many lovers of the riskless acoustic jazz-folk will love this album. Don’t expect firework or extravaganza, this is the more decent work, studied music on a high level.
© Eelco Schilder

Bonovo "Bonovo"
Dofolmusica, 2010

The Spanish Do fol Musica label often surprises me with their high quality (Galician) productions. Besides the known names of Uxia and Mercedes Peon, they also host a few great lesser known names that are at least as interesting to listen to. Bonovo is a dynamic trio that mixes the sound of the electric hurdy gurdy with the accordion, percussion and additional electronics. This results in ten uplifting, well arranged compositions from both tradition and original origin. With direct links to the North Spanish traditions, Balkan and western European melodies, the trio creates a sunny mixture of traditional elements and modern folk-rock. Not all added sounds are a bit dated sometimes, I even hear a kind of eighties drum sound in Cousa Bonita, but it fits well in the bands style. A nice, easy going folk rock album that will remind you of the good things of life.
© Eelco Schilder

Zariza Gitara "Pashe Yagorya"
Own label, 2010

Zariza Gitara is an international ensemble with musicians from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Germany. A guitarist, violinist and two female singers sing fifteen traditional Russian gypsy songs in an unbelievable old fashioned way. Nice to hear how the two singers can sing as one voice and the violinist and guitarist does show some fire at a few moments but on the average this is a simple, predictable album with standard musical arrangements and a not very balanced sound. What a missed chance, the Russian gypsy music has such an rich tradition and very own elements and all these musician can do with it is turning it in a kind of middle of the road sugar sweet music for the millions.
© Eelco Schilder

Sergent Pépère "Du vent sous les robes"
Own label, 2009

Well, normally when the Coop Breizh sign is on an album I expert some nice Breton folk music, but not with this energetic band called Sergent Pépère. This sextet brings international brass folk with rock, jazz and world elements. For over an hour they surprise with strong compositions and well played music. This is a band that plays with both high skills and quality. Not just one of the many brass styled bands, but a creative collective that loves small changes in their music, small creative ideas next to real craftsmanship. A great fanfare tune suddenly turns into a psychedelic , spacey kind of music, free jazz turns into organ lead sixties underground sound and so on. A great album full with surprises and just great music.
© Eelco Schilder

Sergey Starostin "Zhyli-Byli"
Jaro, 2010

My first acquaintance with the beautiful vocals and music of Sergey Starostin is at a concert of the Farlanders at the music meeting festival in Nijmegen. His typical voice, pure and honest music has always been attractive to me. Not many musicians have such an own identity as Starostin and since that Farlanders concert I have collected more of his work in several projects but I think this is the first solo album that I hear by him. Born in the fifties in Moscow, he becomes one of the leading Russian collectors and singer of Russian folk songs. On this album he is backed by three musicians on clarinet, woodwinds, hurdy gurdy and vocals. The album is of a natural beauty that immediately wins my heart. With his voice he is able to express a wide range of feelings and styles and the sober, but highly effective instrumental backing helps making this solo output a hypnotizing, natural, almost naked album. These live recordings of 2007 show a passionate artist at his best.
© Eelco Schilder

Sväng "Schladtshe!"
Aito, 2010

After their album with ‘Chopin for mouth organ’ pieces, the Finnish mouth organ quartet Sväng is back with a ten track new album. Fans of the band already know what these gentlemen can do with their collection of mouth organs and on this new album they won’t disappoint them. For those who get a retro feeling by the word mouth organ, try this, it’s the hottest Mouth organ band on earth! It’s still intriguing how these musician create fresh, melodic and well sounding music on a single kind of instrument. Well, in several shapes and types of course. This album has a nice Balkan vibe and is even more suitable for dancing than previous output. A nice new album with strong melodies and well played music and a sound that refuses to leave my ear, even hours after hearing the CD.
© Eelco Schilder

Les Yeux d’la Tête "Danser sur les toits"
Own label, 2008

It took three years for the French quintet Les Yeux d’la tête album to arrive at my doorstep, but here it is. Together with a bunch of guest musicians this quintet proofs to be a band partly with happy, energetic danceable music and nice, small songs. Twelve original tracks with influences from Jazz, rock, folk, blues, world and chanson. With a touch of Gypsy and Balkan, this is such a group that doesn’t like to be labeled. They tell stories in their songs and with uncomplicated musical arrangements they tempt the audience into a happy mood. This is what I call a friendly record, easy going and with the right positive atmosphere.
© Eelco Schilder

Maria Kalaniemi "Vilda roser"
Aito, 2010

For almost three decades Maria Kalaniemi and the sound of her free-bass button accordion have been part of the Finnish folk related world of music. In 1984 she recorded her first solo output and soon after she recorded three albums with the legendary group Niekku. Since her 1992 album Maria Kalaniemi she build on a international career and by now she is one of the best known Finnish (folk) musicians and accordion players. Since this 1992 album she has recorded about seventeen other albums both solo and in cooperation with other musicians. This new CD is a personal album on which she plays a mixture of ballads, dances and other types of songs. Although they have different sounds and background, these are all compositions she loves and gives an inner view on the music that influenced her career. The result is a beautiful, bit introvert album with wonderful melodies by a musician and singer who sings with self confidence and passion. I love listening to the album and discover new sounds and feelings. Definitely one of her better works!
© Eelco Schilder

Zywiolak "Muzyka psychodelicznej switezianki"
Karrotkommando, 2007

Zywiolak "Nowa ex-tradycja"
Karrotkommando, 2008

Zywiolak "Nowa mix-tradycja"
Karrotkommando, 2010

In the last Folkworld issue[43] I told you about a Polish hurdy gurdy player I once met in Oslo many years ago and how he suddenly send the latest album of his band. This time he surprised me with three other CD’s by one of his other bands called Zywiolak. The first one is a five track EP from 2007 called Muzyka psychodelicznej switezianki. As the other band this EP shows how big the influence of Swedish groups like Hedningarna and Garmarna is on the music of the musicians. Listen to the female vocalists sing and the structure of the compositions and you know what I mean. I find all five tracks of consistent high quality, well played, good sound quality and enough own sound to be different than their sources of inspiration.
The second album is their first full length CD from 2008 called Nowa ex-tradycja and this shows that the band dares to follow a more own direction. In the line of the first EP, but more expressive, more rock and danceable beats. Nice hypnotizing dances mixed with great ballads sung by men with deep, earthy vocals and woman with a sharp, poisoning voice. Lots of percussion, nice electric guitars, good psychedelic touches, this album gives you the feeling you are slowly drowning in a dark, cold swamp.
The latest release is a remix album from 2010 called Nowa mix-tradycja. Ten remixes of earlier released compositions by several artists. The problem with remix albums is that there are so many of them and they sound so much alike. This is definitely a nice one which gives a new dimension to the beautiful music of Zywiolak, but occasionally it also takes away the mysterious atmosphere of the band. But you get some great party music in return. Sometimes with heavy beats, fast and furious and sometimes more subtle added sounds and beats.
Again these three albums show how much potential and quality Poland has on folk related music. This Zywiolak is ready for an international career, although I’m not sure how active the band is at the moment of publication.
© Eelco Schilder

Evening star "One"
Own label, 2010

The Evening star is a international music collective with musicians from the UK, France, Spain and Italy. With six top musicians including the French master on hurdy gurdy Patrick Bouffard, Blowzabella’s Paul James, accordionist Luke Daniels, percussionist Gigi Biolcati, and guitarists (amongst other instruments) Carlos Beceiro and Victor Nicholls. The collective recorded eleven original instrumental tracks and two traditionals. The music is a fine blend of French, UK influenced folk-jazz music played on a high level. This well produced album shows the professionalism of the musicians. It’s composed music that sounds like the musicians control every second of the album. This is the quality of these six musicians, technically spoken at a high level, but somehow it also sounds a bit riskless. I think I expected more experimental, more creativity from such a bunch of fine musicians. Don’t get me wrong, the music is great, but I personally miss this special touch that makes this collective different than other sort like bands.
© Eelco Schilder

Maalstroom & Jo Freya "Meet"
No Masters, 2010

The last few years the Dutch formation Maalstroom slowly became one of Holland’s most appreciated folk related bands. With their combination of percussion, clarinet, guitar and violin they create a more than pleasant acoustic sound with influences from the UK and West/North Europe. On this fourth album they record with Jo Freya who most of you will know from the legendary Blowzabella band and the Old Swan band. She is one of the UK’s finest saxophonists/clarinetists and I think this cooperation is a very natural combination. The album contains eleven tracks which are a mixture of original tunes by the band members but also artists such as Tweed, Burns and Bäckström. As in previous work I’m impressed by the high quality of the music. Maalstroom and Freya create a light, happy, easy going acoustic folk. It’s music to sit down for and listen carefully. Strong new Maalstroom album with a well succeed combination with Freya.
© Eelco Schilder

Blowzabella "Dance"
Own label, 2010

Only recently, Australian artist Bill O'Toole enlightened us about the origin and foundation of British band Blowzabella way back in the late 1970s.[43] Call it coincidence, the current line-up of Andy Cutting (button accordion), Jo Freya (saxophone, clarinet, whistle),[35][38] Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy),[43] Paul James (bagpipes, saxophone), Dave Shepherd (fiddle), Barn Stradling (bass) and Jon Swayne (bagpipes, saxophone) decided to record some of the older tunes in their repertoire - three year's after the latest offering "Octomento".[34] For various reasons these tunes have never been recorded, or at least not recorded in the form they play it now. The album's title says it all, it is dance music from European traditions - bourrées, waltzes, mazurkas, schottishe and hornpipes -, albeit with jazzy overtones. There are tunes written by current and former band members. There is an orginally Flemish nursery rhyme, "Jan Mijne Man," here performed as a schottishe. The tune has been performed by American band Poor Man's Fortune on their "In Good Time" album;[35] incidentally (or rather not), PMF also recorded Blowzabella's following "Go Mauve," which has been composed by Ian Luff who played with Blowzabella from 1985 to 2005. The "Man in the Brown Hat" has been recorded by Scotland's Bellevue Rendezvous on their recent album "Salamander".[42] There comes a waltz composed by Andy Cutting, "In Continental Mood," again recorded by PMF, obviously huge Blowzabella fans; another of Andy's waltzes, "Flatworld" has surfaced on medieval German band Die Irrlichter's[44] "Goldstück" album. Eventually, the CD ends with the traditional English jig (and song originally) "Blowzabella, My Bouncing Doxy" from about 1700. The tune has changed a little bit over the three decades since the band's foundation. By the way, the tune is in Thomas D’Urfey’s "Pills to Purge Melancholy" collection, and that's what "Dance" is all about, an excellent remedy.
P.S.: If you like your dance music a little bit more experimental, Paul James recently also recorded with Evening Star, and Jo Freya with Dutch band Maalstrom (see reviews above).
© Walkin' T:-)M

Tim Eriksen "Soul of the January Hills"
Appleseed Recordings, 2010

Tim Eriksson [29] [42] is the punk of American roots music, his latest adventure however took him way off the beaten track. When teaching Sacred Harp singing at the 2008 Jaroslaw Festival in south eastern Poland, he took a digital recorder into a wall tower surrounding Jaroslaw's Benedictine Abbey and sang 14 traditional American songs in one take into the mike - solo and unaccompanied. After one hour he walked out and had a finished recording (and others are spending hours and hours in the studio!).
Tim reckons: One voice alone may be the most common form of music in the world, though at the moment many people encounter it only in the lullaby or in the shower. So for the time being, this recording represents both a radical idea and a lost art overdue for a comeback ... It's meant for listening, but you could also learn a couple of the songs and sing them yourself. As long as it doesn't bother the neighbors too much it might be a good thing.
It might be hard to listen to it from beginning to end but you can't deny his Hardcore Americana is something worthwhile. He featured several Afro-Yankee gospel hymns such as "Son of God" and "Wrestling Jacob," culminating in an amazing minor-key version of "Amazing Grace". You probably never heard it that raw and honest (just compare it to the bagpipes versions[36]). There are Anglo-American ballads about love and murder, such as the "Lass of Glenshee" (e.g. compare an interpretation of a singer such as Cara Dillon)[38] or "Drowsy Sleeper" (done by fellow American Lissa Schneckenburger).[38] "I Wish the Wars Were All Over," which he already recorded live on his "Northern Roots" album, is an original song based on an 18th century ballad. "John Randolph" is an American version of the British ballad "Lord Randall," which can be found in the John Clare collection, for example,[24] and is probably the oldest song here, dating back to the 15th century.
Tim ventures on. Only recently I came about his recording of a Kipling children poem where he musically revisits his punk roots somehow (review coming soon).
© Walkin' T:-)M

Horslips "Live at the O2" [Do-CD]
Horslips Records, 2010

Try saying Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse after having a couple of Guinness pints and you might get an idea why this band called themselves 'Horslips'. That's for a start. The Horslips were pioneers of folk rock music in Ireland and blended traditional Irish music with progressive guitar rock. Furthermore they were a lot inspired by pre-Christian Irish mythology. Maybe they were the inventors of what is called Celtic Rock today. The group formed in 1970 and disbanded only ten years later when they didn't make the big break overseas. Somehow they were ten years too late in the disco, punk and new wave era, or maybe ten years too early compared to the Horslips-like Celtic rock bands formed in the 1990s. The lads went separate ways (guitar player Johnny Fean, for example, toured a while with his own tribute band), and became legendary but distant, a world away, the stuff of elder brothers' record collections.[31] There had been some small scale reunions since, and eventually Horslips reformed for two Irish shows in Belfast and Dublin in late 2009.
I haven't followed the Horslips' career in detail, my only sonic impression had been a double Best of CD I acquired about 15 years ago. I had to confess I didn't listen to it very much, it sounds so outdated and 70s-like. It still is with this double live CD, 70s no doubt, but it has a much more contemporary and timeless feel about it. The set is kicking off with the instrumental "King of the Fairies," the set dance from O'Neill's tune bible gone electric (compare it to more traditional renditions).[36] More instrumental tunes follow later on, e.g. a fiddle medley of "The High Reel" and the "Sligo Maid," the mandolin/flute (no pipes) hornpipe "The Piper in the Meadows Straying," the concertina air "Drive the Cold Winter Away" or "Daybreak" which is based on the old lament and Gaelic song "Anach Cuain".[37] The "King" is immediately followed here by one of the Horslips' hits "The Power and the Glory", the Tuatha de Dannan's rallying cry from "The Book of Invasions". Further hits such as "Faster Than the Hound" or "Trouble With A Capital T" follow later in the set. If you listen carefully you may identify some traditional Irish melodies: "Brian Boru's March", "My Lagan Love", "Sliabh Na mBan" ...
There is also a DVD available, "The Road to the O2", a documentary with interviews and a dozen tracks footage.
© Walkin' T:-)M

Dr. Eugene "Dr. Eugene"
Appel Rekords, 2010

The doctor in question here is a Belgian four-piece surgery, consisting of Joachim Gys (chromatic accordion), Hans Jochems (guitar diatonic accordion, vocals), Koen Vanmeerbeek (viola d'amore, nyckelharpa, harmonium) and Lotte De Blieck (double bass). Their debut operation has eleven tracks, written by Gys, Jochems and Vanmeerbeek, respectively. There are two songs with Flemish lyrics by Jochems. It is dance music from the European traditions, straight from the heart, sometimes branching out into the cinematic. It's only bal folk but I like it - very much! Consultation time is much too short, but I feel good afterwards - and tell this your local doctor. I can only recommend searching out the next pharmacy (a record shop will also do) and get this remedy!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Triple-X "Wodka Vaseline"
Appel Rekords, 2010

"Triple X" is an action movie about an extreme athlete who's permanently crossing the line, and this might not be the soundtrack to it, but a musical equivalent to a cliffhanger or an alpinist. This young Belgian dance music band consists of Bert Leemans (accordion), Björn Van Hove (fiddle) Jeroen Geerinck (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards), Ludo Stichelmeyer (percussion), and guest musician Stephane Hardy (bombard, saxophone) who also contributed some tunes. Besides two traditional tunes from the lowlands ("Katliejas", "Bedwongen"), the Swedish "Lihll-pe i Floa" (which Triakel did)[29] and one by Norwegian Annbjørg Lien,[42] all fourteen tracks have been composed by the band. It is a rousing romp that is taking no prisoners, straight forward, with great variation, but also very tuneful. The album pauses for a moment right in the middle with a song delivered by Soetkin Collier of Lais and Urban Trad fame.[31][42] After that encampment it is right in the face again. Great stuff to get your feet moving!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Startijenn "'Kreiz da fas!"
Paker Prod, 2010

This Breton outfit was founded way back in 1997. However, it took them several years to record their debut album in 2006, followed soon after by "Pakit Holl!" in 2008,[38] and now it's number 3 for Youn Roue (bombarde - the traditional Breton double reed instrument), Konogan An Habask (biniou - the Breton bagipes, Irish uilleann pipes), Tangi Ar Gall-Carré (diatonic button accordion), Tangi Oillo (guitar) and Kaou Gwenn (percussion). Startijenn means energy in the Breton language and I could stop this review here because everything is said with this. Well, let's not. "'Kreiz da fas!" is instrumental music for Breton dancing, not only lively as such but powerful and rooted in the 21st century. You recognise polkas and waltzes, scottishe, larides, plins and gwerzes - but all composed by Konogan An Habask and Tangi Ar Gall-Carré. The only exception is the traditional gwerz tune "Bandiz" (already presented on the "Pakit Holl!" album) that evolves into a ton-bale and a gavotte.
In the sleeve notes the group complains about troubled social times, forbidden identity, guilt. But on weekends, in a dance hall we get together to forget. The fest-noz becomes our way out. Nowadays it is more than just linking your little finger and swing your arms in a long line, but this is a new generation, a renewal if not overhauling of Breton culture. The fest-noz hardly knows any musical boundaries anymore. The sky's the limit!
© Walkin' T:-)M

Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller "Shadows Tall"
Greentrax Recordings, 2010

Jeana Leslie (fiddle, piano) and Siobhan Miller (vocals) started with a remarkable debut;[37][43] and now their follow-up and second album even tops it. Just a short introduction: Jeana Leslie hails from the Orkney Islands and recently joined German band CARA.[43] Siobhan Miller is from the Scottish lowlands and singing all over the place, recently she sang two of Davy Steele's songs on his Greentrax tribute collection.[44] Both met while studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, put together a repertoire, recorded an album and won the 2008 BBC Young Folk Award (and a couple of others).
As I said, their debut album already was really nice, but this is definitely a step forward. With additional guitar (Ewan MacPherson), bass and percussion, Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller strive for a big, almost cinematic sound. The song selection contains traditional fare such as "Johnny O'Braidisleys" (Ewan MacColl did that one, Planxty, ...), "Trooper And The Maid" (Tannahill Weavers, ...) and the less well-known drinking song "Blythe Blythe". "Buttermilk Hill" is a song from the American Revolutionary War, the tune is the Irish "Siuil a ruin". I always regarded "King's Shilling" for an old song, but no, this anti-war song had been written by Ian Sinclair (or maybe I'm confusing two different songs). Violet Jacob's "The Lost Licht" has been set to music by Siobhan, and eventually everything comes full circle with Kate Rusby's "Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?", a lament dedicated to the late Davy Steele (here we are again).
Now I'm curious if they can deliver this huge promise even live in concert.
© Walkin' T:-)M

FolkWorld Homepage German Content English Content Editorial & Commentary News & Gossip Letters to the Editors CD & DVD Reviews Book Reviews Folk for Children Folk & Roots Online Guide - Archives & External Links Info & Contact

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Homepage
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld