We waited just over 3 years for the new album from Mánran but An Dá Lá certainly does not disappoint. Quite a bit has changed for the band since the release of The Test in 2013. We now have Ewen Henderson singing lead vocals as well as continuing on the Fiddle and Highland Bagpipes (good effort son!) and Craig Irving has joined the ranks on guitar. I know I say it in nearly every other blog post but these guys must be up there for the busiest touring band going, so I suppose we can let them off for making us wait and wait for this masterpiece. One of the most defining aspects of the album for me is the tight transition between tracks as it is just so effortless. A strong reason for this, I believe, is the altogether heavier and rocky vibe that is maintained throughout the whole record. Particularly in tracks such as Fiasco, Autobahn, Fios and An Dá Lá. Even though rock music has always been a strong influence on the band it really brings together the mix of Gaelic Song-English Song-Instrumental-Puirt A Beul incredibly well. This record also has an incredible amount of ridiculuously good tunes that you can get your teeth stuck into on the Mánran website. What are you waiting for!?
Siobhan Miller - Strata
I tend not to write too many blogs about singers because it's not really what I tend to listen to, but my oh my this is something else. I have had this on repeat for days! Siobhan's superb follow up to her debut record Flight Of Time was premiered at this years Celtic Connections. The very first thing that I loved about this album is that it was recorded live. No click track, no sampling, somebody messes up, we start again. What I love about live recordings is that it captures the purest from of what the artist is trying to convey through the music. This recording truly shows where Siobhan's musical journey has come from and pays great tribute to figures who have inspired her whilst also putting her own spin on some contemporary folk favourites including Andy M. Stewart's The Ramblin' Rover. Siobhan is joined by a host of fantastic musicians on this album including Aaron Jones, Euan Burton, Megan Henderson and Tom Gibbs. Tracks to look out for include Banks of Newfoundland, One Too Many Mornings and The Sun Shines High.
Ímar - Afterlight
Afterlight is the debut recording from Glasgow based trad/folk supergroup Ímar and we defy you to find another debut recording that packs as much speed and tenacity than this, go on I dare you! The band consists of some of the most well known faces on the Trad scene at the moment including Adam Brown (Bódhran, Guitar) Ryan Murphy (Uilleann Pipes, Flute) Thomas Callister (Fiddle) Adam Rhodes (Bazouki) and Mohsen Amini (Concertina). One of the main objectives of the band was to get back to playing the tunes and styles that they were immersed in in the early days of their career as well as promoting some of the more forgotten reportaire of polkas and slides alongside their own compositions. Despite coming from several different backgrounds and influences it is clear to see that the bands' sound is deeply rooted in the Irish Music Tradition. Saying that, Ímar have certainly been able to find a uniquely, fast paced, driving sound that is most definitely their own. Tracks to look out for include The Firebird, Happy Clappy and Manx Plates.