GREG RUSSELL – Inclined To Be Red (Fellside FECD281)

Inclined To Be RedWhen he isn’t partnering Ciaran Algar or working with Nancy Kerr’s Sweet Visitor Band and half a dozen other projects, Greg Russell follows another path. Inclined To Be Red would seem to be his first completely solo album even though he seems to have been around for ever…and he’s still only 24. The album’s title has a double meaning, I think. The line comes from ‘Joe Bowers’, a song that dates back to the California gold rush, but many of the songs concern the lives of the working classes suggesting a certain political leaning. Of course it could just be that Greg is of the ginger persuasion.

Greg has written four of the songs here, adapted four more from traditional roots and shrewdly borrowed four others. The opener is one of his own songs, ‘E.G.A’, written for the Shake The Chains project. Its subject is Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her fight to become a doctor, the first woman in the country to do so. It’s a masterful piece of writing encompassing Anderson’s life and struggle in under three minutes. ‘Road To Dorchester’ is Graham Moore and Mick Ryan’s song about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and one of the best tracks on the album. Greg returns again to the plight of the working man with Dominic Behan’s ‘Crooked Jack’, a song that I hadn’t encountered before, and Keith Marsden’s ‘Willy-Ole Lad’. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that someone is covering Keith’s songs and Greg’s voice suits this one perfectly.

Three songs concern the life of the itinerant musician. The first, ‘Travelling Onwards’ is autobiographical and Greg suggests that the second, Christine Lavin’s ‘Tomorrow You’re Gone’, is the perfect answer to people who ask him what he does. Her description of a life lived in hotels one night at a time is perfectly judged. The final track, ‘Storylines’, is about the songs that people perform and the attitudes behind them.

Greg is supported, sparingly, by Archie Churchill-Moss on accordion and Tim Yates’ double bass and although they both add colour and shade to the songs I think I prefer Greg’s solo performances. Some of these songs are quite hard-hitting but he doesn’t hit you with them – he just suggests that you might care to listen.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the GREG RUSSELL – Inclined To Be Red link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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Artist’s website: http://www.gregrussellfolk.co.uk/

‘Crooked Jack’ – live:

ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER – Findings (Story Records STREC1662)

FindingsI can’t decide if I’m more impressed by the quantity or the quality of Ange Hardy’s work. The ink is barely dry on Esteesee, her 2015 exploration of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and she’s back with her fourth album formalising her work in partnership with Lukas Drinkwater. Findings is a term for the linking pieces in jewellery that join the settings and stones together – Ange knows about this stuff – and provides the theme of this album. And I do find it refreshing to find a themed album that sticks to its central idea all the way through without forcing it down your throat. For that alone Findings is a wonderful record.

In the opening track, ‘The Call/Daughters Of Watchet/Caturn’s Night’, the link is the railway that linked Watchet to the mines of the Brendon Hills but it is also four love stories. The final track, ‘Fall Away’ returns to Watchet and the four daughters of the town now that the mines and the railway and the fishing are gone. Findings mixes original and traditional material, often in one song. So ‘The Pleading Sister’ builds a song around the single verse of ‘Little Boy Blue’ and ‘Bonny Lighter-Boy’ sets a new tune to a traditional set of words.

The (more or less) traditional pieces are ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’, ‘The Berkshire Tragedy’ and ‘The Parting Lullaby’ and I can tell that you’re working out the findings each of these songs. The original songs cover a multitude of relationships but I will single out ‘Invisible Child’ as a masterful example of Ange and Lukas’ songwriting – simple and direct but powerful and moving.

Sometimes Ange and Lukas perform alone but there is a small band of Archie Churchill-Moss, Ciaran Algar and Evan Carson with additional vocals from Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts and Steve Pledger. Even so, the accompaniments are restrained and the songs are out front where they should be. Not to belittle its predecessors but Findings could be Ange’s best album.

Dai Jeffries

Some copies of Findings carry a sticker which can be matched with another to win a (possibly) fabulous prize. Mine reads PHMOI. If you have the matching half, please let me know and we can split the loot.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER – Findings link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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Artists’ website: www.angehardy.com

Tom Napper & Tom Bliss – The Kelping

I had the utter delight of seeing this duo play at the Ho at Anchor, in Leigh-on-Sea and they wove magic for me that night. The magic was in the stories that they told before and during playing. It made me listen harder and instilled a greater understanding of the legends they were creating.

At the time I bought “The Silverlode” and played it non-stop and still refer back to it regularly. Because every time I listen to it I’m reminded of the enchantment that’s still there, created in my mind and reinforced in the music.

So (you knew we’d get round to eventually – right?) The Kelping! Wow! Suddenly I remember loads more of the songs they’d played that January night in Essex. Instantly captivated not just by their amazing talent on the mandolin/mandola/guitar/banjo, which in itself is stuff made of legends.

There are some really haunting tracks on this album and a bit of a sea-theme running throughout and as with The Silverlode they have interspersed the selection with rearranged traditional tunes and Bliss’s conjuring song writing.

You really need to listen to God Speed (the snow goose), a song by Tom based on Paul Galico’s book, The Snowgoose (in itself a beautiful book). I heard it in February first and it still moves me in the way only well told and good yarns do.

In fact do more… go visit the Amazon link below and get a copy.

Original Posting date – 26-May-2005
Reviewers Name – Lins

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Celtus Live 2000 (Evangeline GEL4020)

Celtus Live 2000The fourth album from Celtus featuring all live tracks with 2 Bonus Tracks. A must have. Starting with Navigator at full belt in front of an audience. Into The Pilgrim slow, soulful and the audience quiet and listening intently. We have Wide Awake next to make sure “we are not sleeping”. The Awakening, an instrumental from John, performed beautifully live, The fifth track is Believe, again you can imagine the audience listening to the words and watching John, Pat and Dan pour their heart and soul into their music. Portrait next, a true favourite leading into the enigmatic Cathedral, the live version bringing John into a new ending with his bass guitar. Stunning. The crowd love it! A true favourite from now on. Purple Diadem ends the Live tracks section and we then have the two bonus tracks. Don’t be Fooled, made me cry the first time I heard it, finishing off last but certainly not least Pat playing Dear Irish Boy. Wonderful. A traditional Instrumental perfect for the extraordinary talent of Pat on his grandfather’s violin. A wealth of talent shown in this album. A must have for any Celtus Collection.

Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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Celtus Rooted (Shamrock Records 001)

Celtus Rooted (Shamrock Records 001)A traditional album, again different, but stunning in its own right. Irish Folk/Celtus at its best in a traditional form. Rooted brings out whistles, bouzoukis, reels and jigs in abundance. First track is Heart and Hand, slow then into an up-tempo classic foot-tapper. Next we have Voyage, an Instrumental with a beat and led by John on his whistle. Following this we have the melodic Time League. A strange somewhat eerie irregular instrumental, which gives me images of Medieval Festivities and Dancing in a Great Hall! John’s whistle prominent and Pats Fiddle Playing. Next we have Voice Cries Out, a song sung from the heart and bringing in the harmonies of these extremely talented musicians. Whisper is a gentle instrumental lead by John’s Whistle taking us into Wasteland. Back to traditional reels and jigs Celtus style! A get up and dance type of track. Navigator keeps us dancing; low beat leading into total ecstasy! We stay dancing with Purple Diadem led by Pats outstanding fiddle playing. You can tell by listening he enjoys playing this one. Unbound is a reasonably strong beat and flowing, which brings in John and Pat humming and singing gently in the background traditionally. We then have Two Worlds, Moonchild, and Bubble all live and recorded at Sheffield City Hall with full audience participation. Dan Axtell joins Celtus as keyboard extraordinaire. Another talented musician.

Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp

You can obtain a copy of Rooted from the Professors website at http://www.patmcmanus.co.uk/celtus.htm

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Celtus Portrait (Sony 494710 2)

Celtus PortraitThis is the second Celtus album from the incredible McManus Brothers. The opening track Two Worlds, is an up-tempo, love song then leads into Wide Awake, a track telling of a stifled person in love with someone else. Touch You tells of love gone stale. Harmonies and stunning whistle playing from John and fiddle from Pat give us this truly beautiful song. Science of Love changes the mood, into another up-tempo number. Believe and Waiting for The Rain does not disappoint giving us images of the lyrics conveyed. The Awakening is an instrumental no one could possibly fail to be moved by. Whistle playing from John at his best as always. The effervescent Bubble whisks us away into a dream world “chasing Rainbows”. The title track Portrait gives us an idea of life in Northern Ireland at the times of the troubles. An extremely powerful self-penned song from the McManus Brothers. We end this album on the atmospheric, enigmatic Cathedral. A protest against the abuse of children by priests in Ireland. Truly dark, sullen and a force to end with. A somewhat different album from Celtus, but no less inspiring than their first album Moonchild.

Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

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