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Friday, March 30, 2007

Celine Carroll's follow-up to Itch won't be a rash decision

Here is a video of Honey, a little taster to whet the appetite for those who are hungry for more after her current album, Itch. This was taken during a recent gig at Bewley's, Grafton St. Dublin.

CELINE CARROLL - Live Show, Honey

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Moya Brennan's Signature is worth all the polycarbonate it's written on

Compiling gig reviews is relatively straightforward because it’s a descriptive snapshot of a moment in time. Throw in a few nice words about the performer(s), the effect on the audience, maybe tag on a setlist and you’ve cracked it. However,an album review is a different kettle of fish.

You should therefore appreciate that it’s going to take a very special album to make me wax lyrical about its merits. Ladies & Gentlemen, I now present to you my views on the best album that I’ve heard in years, Moya Brennan’s Signature.

Signature was produced by Moya Brennan and mixed by guitarist/pianist/backing vocalist, Fionan De Barra. It was released on the BEO record label, October 2006. The album contains 12 quality tracks which takes little effort from the listener to get totally immersed in.

A quick feather of the cymbals, then we’re dropped into a rolling Purple Haze. From a lyrical aspect there are no more than half a dozen phrases. Musically, it’s lethal. Rolling piano, wild Uillean pipes and Moya’s pure vocals will beat the aural recipient into submission. By the time Merry Go Round , track 3, comes around the listener’s grip on reality has become totally loosened.

Study the quality of the weaving of voice and violin in Tapestry, track 5. Dream your way through Black Night, track 6, and sink to your knees to Hear My Prayer, track 7.
Maire Breatnach’s name appears in the sleeve notes of this album. Although this virtuoso of the violin is not associated with any given track, I suspect that she might have joined in on this particular song at least.
Many Faces, track 9, has the backing music from the League of Nations. It has an Egyptian sand-dancer’s beat, the odd plink of the harp takes you to Latin America, while the Uillean pipes could well be charming snakes in the depths of India. The penultimate song, Gone Are The Days, track 11, allows you to reflect on your carefree days of youth before closing with the beautiful simplicity of a ‘trad. arr.’ , entitled Pill A Run O.

Getting tired of listening to this album is not an option. It’s just impossible to put down. Even if you attempt to do so, then please take extreme care when listening upon return. It has the cheek to sound even better. Signature not only takes over your life, it gnaws away at your soul.

To those who may still have second thoughts about accompanying this CD on the journey from the display shelf to the checkout till, then rest assured that the seal of quality is Moya Brennan, the voice of Clannad. This album doesn’t need the help of self-centred radio stations to push sales. In fact, they might have to air this album to attract the listeners.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two autographed CDs , but no Signature

Pacific Road Arts Centre
Friday 23rd March 2007

I’ve been in possession of Moya Brennan’s Signature CD for about two weeks or so now, and I’ve absolutely hammered it. And, boy, I was more ready for this concert than a footie fan is for a Wembley cup final.

At the rear of the stage at Pacific Road Arts Centre is a tram museum. Black drapes just about hide the audience’s view from these relics of yesteryear. To further assist the optical protection, there is a constant stream of dry ice and the artistes enter the stage like they do on Stars In Your Eyes.

This was no tribute act though, Moya, (vocals, harp & shaker) and her 7 piece band were about to take us from these mists of the ‘Pacific’, across the Irish Sea to drop us on the other side of the Wicklow Mountains into the fields of the 32 counties and 40 shades of green.

Such is the mystical power of the music of Moya Brennan. Moya’s voice has the purity of Waterford Crystal and her songs are simply mesmeric. From the first song onwards the optical view of the band is overwritten by images from the mind’s eye and you just float away.

I didn’t take note of the setlist, but the show lasted for around 2hrs plus a 20 minute interval. The essential content was a plentiful supply of songs from her latest album, Signature, with some favourites from Clannad. There were also a couple of instrumental medleys of jigs & reels which saw Moya on the harp.

Irish jigs & reels are interesting enough with a conventional set of instruments, but when you include 2 harps, Uillean pipes and the obligatory fiddle within this array. then your ears are in for a bit of exercise.

Tapestry (Moya’s Signature) and New Grange (Clannad’s Lore & others) opened the show before Moya conversed. She was pleased to back on Merseyside and felt almost shocked that it was several years since she last appeared over in Liverpool. The mere fact that that the venue was just about sold out proved out the proverb about absence and the heart.

Old favourites form the Clannad days included Robin the Hooded Man, Theme From Harry’s Game and In A Lifetime. The Signature CD was well represented, although the album wasn’t available at the CD table.

Two hours just whistled by, and as she came to introduce the last song, Gone Are The Days, Moya explained that Signature is a snapshot of her life and that particular song reflected on her younger times. Judging by her looks and her voice, the fountains of youth are still flowing.

Moya returned for the encore which closed with an old Irish fighting song, Against the Wind, which features some fantastic drumming by Paul Byrne. Golden uplights on the drumkit make for a spectacular finale.

At the end of the show I added a couple of CDs to my collection, one being her Christmas album (shop early !) and her debut solo album , Maire (RCA 1993). This album features her sisters, Dee, Bridin and Olive and it’s well worth a listen just for the natural sibling harmonies from the Irish equivalent of the Von Trapp family !

Moya’s Band :

Moya Brennan - Lead Vocals, Harp, Shaker & Bones
Paul Byrne – percussion
Fionan De Barra – Guitars, Vocals
Sinead Madden – Fiddle, (perfectly matched)Vocals
Sam Jackson – Keyboards
Eamonn Galldubh – Uillleann Pipes, Saxaphone, Clarinet
Yoshinobi Izumi – Electric Bass (left handed), Vocals
Cormac De Barra – Electric Harp, Vocals

Click Here for the Signature album review

Monday, March 12, 2007

Not radio, I regret, but the 'net which filled the Met for Juliet

Bury Met,
Friday 9th March 2007

Apart from a change in the support act and just one song previously unheard, there has been no great change in Juliet Turner's offerings since her last appearance at this venue some 13 months ago.
She hasn't had the momentum of a big UK tour to call upon either.
Even radio airplay has been almost non-existent recently. The odd play on Wogan here and there have been my only JT encounters over the past 12 months.All this relative inactivity is hardly the best foundation for a successful live show on a cold Friday March evening in the heart of Lancashire.
So we have to choose from, good venue promotional work, word of mouth, the internet, the undying support of the faithful followers or the quality of Juliet Turner & guitarist Brian Grace as the reason for filling the Bury Met.
Draw your own conclusions, but the quality element is what drags me out of my armchair.
It's common knowledge that the reason for her musical inertia is that Juliet is studying Speech Therapy at Trinity College, Dublin. Although the studying is probably intense and most of her time is now dedicated to achieving her anticipated qualification, she assured the audience that she does manage to visit the studio now and again and a new album will be forthcoming soon.
As for the content of the gig, the Bury faithful (and any newcomers) were treated to about an hour and a half of her `old' favourites. Starting with `Pick A Story' and closing with `Everything Beautiful Is Burning', the performance was faultless, the banter was friendly, the between-song stories were a-plenty and new. It was also difficult to imagine that Brian Grace and Juliet had not performed live together as frequently as say, last year. The best example of this natural musical togetherness was particularly noticeable at the closing of `1987' where they were racing along chord for chord and without even a glance to each other, they nailed the finish with perfection.
She returned for the encore, which closed with the much-requested `Vampire' , but the highlight of the evening – and probably for the entire duration of my Juliet Turner support – was that she agreed to sing `Broken Things'. She sang this song at the Memorial Service for the victims of the Omagh bombing. I don't believe she has ever performed it since. I have only called upon this song a couple of times since then during my own personal traumas, such is the gravity of this beautiful song.
Thank you Juliet Turner for the quality music that you have delivered so far, thank you also for promising to return. Good Luck with the studies.

Thanks to Paddycam for this vid from a gig at Whelan's , Dublin