New Releases of the Week (4 February 2022)
The New Demesne – Field Recordings Made by Alan Lomax in Ireland, 1951 (Irish Traditional Music Archive in association with the Folk Music Society of Ireland and the Association for Cultural Equity, New York)
In January and February 1951, the American collector Alan Lomax and singer Robin Roberts travelled around Ireland recording musicians and singers for a Columbia Records project. They were accompanied by uilleann piper Seamus Ennis and visited Dublin, Cork, Galway and Donegal. The resulting record, issued in 1955 and titled The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music – Volume 1: Ireland, was the first original LP of Irish traditional music. Among the artists featured were Ennis, Elizabeth Cronin, Kitty Gallagher, Mickey Doherty and Colm Ó Caodháin. The album brought Irish traditional music to an international public and included the first commercial recording of sean-nós singing. The Lomax recordings have continued to have a cultural impact since. Now the Irish Traditional Music Archive has issued a double-CD of over sixty recordings from that trip, with audio remastering by Harry Bradshaw and featuring an even wider range of artists, including Aggie White and Neillidh Boyle. The release comes with a 68-page booklet by Nicholas Carolan that includes an essay on Lomax in Ireland and notes to accompany each track. The New Demesne (named after a reel played by Ennis on the album) is a comprehensive and fascinating insight into Lomax’s trip and the work that resulted. It provides a guide into what seems like another world. For anyone seeking to deepen their understanding of Irish traditional music, this is an essential recording.
To purchase the album, visit https://www.itma.ie/shop/lomax-in-ireland
Seafarers – II
London-based band Seafarers, a group with wide-ranging musical backgrounds including jazz, folk, indie, contemporary and chamber-pop, have today released a new album, II. The band, who released their debut album Orlando in 2020, was formed by songwriter and saxophonist Matthew Herd, and includes vocalist Lauren Kinsella, pianist Tom Taylor, guitarist and double bass player Tom McCredie, and Dave Hamblett on drums. The new record was written around themes of teenage years and early adulthood, friends, parties and sexuality. Commenting on the inspiration behind his songwriting, Herd said ‘I can’t imagine not being fascinated by teenagerdom, mainly because I think those experiences shape who we are. I still encounter the same emotions as I did then, but just in muted tones, and I react with more consideration and empathy. It’s definitely more appropriate, but I can’t help but miss the drama.’ II features an assemblage of guest musicians including Arun Thavasothy (guitars), Donald Grant (violin), Triona Milne (viola), Ben Cashell (cello), Kris Drever (electric guitar), and Euan Burton (electric guitar, vocals). The record creates a sound that is tender, poignant, enigmatic and exciting, with agile vocals by Kinsella – one of the record’s highlights. Purchase II on Bandcamp: https://seafarersmusic.bandcamp.com/
Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl – Heal & Harrow
Heal & Harrow is the Scottish musical duo of harper and singer Rachel Newton (2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year) and fiddle-player Lauren MacColl. The pair have today released their debut record, composed as a tribute to the victims of the 16th and 17th century Scottish witch-hunts. The ten-track album of stripped-back strings brings a blend of harp, fiddle and vocals sung in English and Scots Gaelic. Discussing the inspiration behind the project, the duo said the ‘music, readings and songs act as a restorative salve to the heart-breaking “hate crime” stories of women hung and burnt at the stake for being “different”. Nearly 3,000 Scots were executed in a tidal wave of femicide after Scotland’s 1563 Witchcraft Act was introduced. Herbalists, healers and midwives could be revered for their skills one minute and condemned as witches the next.’ The pair will tour across the UK this month from 9 to 19 February, visiting Inverness, Stirling, Gateshead, Liverpool, York, Oxford, King’s Place in London, Leeds and Peebles. Visit: https://healandharrow.bandcamp.com/album/heal-harrow
My True Love He Dwells on the Mountain: Traditional Music from the West of Ireland – Field Recordings Made in the Early 1970s (Veteran)
Released on the Veteran folk music label in the UK, this album comprises 20 field recordings made by English folk singer Terry Yarnell in Ireland in the early 1970s. Yarnell was part of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger’s Critics circle of singers, and his mother was of Irish descent. Inspired by MacColl, he made several trips to Ireland to soak up the singing and music tradition and make recordings. The result is a collection containing a number of interesting pieces. Among the artists included are Galway fiddle-player Gabe O’Sullivan (who also plays flute), whistle-player Festy Conlon, uilleann piper Dan O’Dowd, all recorded in Spiddal, Co. Galway, in the summer of 1970, and dancer Paddy Bán Ó Broin with Frankie Gavin, aged 17, on whistle, in 1973. Clare musicians Willie Clancy in Miltown Malbay, Vincent Griffin in Ayle, and Chris Droney in Bellharbour; Jim and Seamus Donoghue in Sligo; and Rita and Sarah Keane and family in Caherlistrane, Co. Galway, are also included.
To purchase the album, visit http://veteran.co.uk/vt163cd.htm
Wallis Bird – What’s Wrong With Changing?
‘What’s Wrong With Changing?’ is the new single from Berlin-based Irish singer-songwriter Wallis Bird. It will feature on her forthcoming seventh album Hands, out on 27 May. The punchy and upbeat track with echoing, prominent percussion was written around themes of identity. ‘Identity plays a huge role in the song,’ said the musician. ‘We can’t help what background, physicality, skin colour or what land we were born into but we can choose how we treat each other, how we learn. That to me is the making of the song: How you are not who you are.’ The new song is accompanied by a music video filmed in Berlin and directed by Joe Wright. Visit: https://www.wallisbird.com/
Zapho – Peoples
Alt-pop artist Zapho has this week released her latest single ‘Peoples’, following previous single releases ‘Fight Me’ in 2020, and ‘Water Me’ in 2019. Last year, the artist focused on co-founding the artist collective The X Collective – a creative community with members such as Gemma Bradley, Tolü Makay, and Elkae. The gritty and rhythmic single marks her return to releasing music as it is the first single from her upcoming debut album Commenting on the new track, Zapho said, ‘Genre-wise my music and style is a mixed bag, but so am I, that’s the Zapho sound. I wanted to make something that felt honest to me, I’m a lover of all types of music – it’s about striking that unique balance! “Peoples” is very much so a reflection of my younger self, searching for the types of people that excited me, spiritually, romantically, platonically, creatively.’ Zapho’s debut album is due for release later this year. Visit: https://www.zaphomusic.com/
To submit your music for inclusion, visit: https://bit.ly/38vquCn