MÀNRAN – An Dà Là – The Two Days (Mànran Records MAN04)

An Dà LàIt is now so easy to create your own CD that most artistes of any calibre have at least one to boast of. Regretfully, this does not always produce a product of a suitable quality worthy of review. As such, I was delighted to receive An Dà Là the latest recording by Mànran. From the very first note of the guitar picking on track one, ‘Fiasco’, it was obvious that I was listening to a quality product. The depth and tone of the guitar created an immediate buzz, although a rather squeaky introduction of the pipes concerned me. It could have been edited. It didn’t really matter because the lengthy track was enthralling and enjoyable throughout.

Mànran are currently flying high, not only in Scotland, but at concerts and festivals throughout the world. Only a couple of days ago, I watched a TV documentary dedicated to the boys. It highlighted that this is a group of dedicated friends willing to each work hard and each accept their own responsibility in the organisation of their tours, promotion and musical arrangements.

If you have read any previous reviews which I have offered on new releases, then you will know that I do not analyse a CD track by track. A CD assessment, for me, is based on the overall product that I am listening to. There could well be a favourite track and then one that you don’t enjoy quite so much. I have never read a book that enthralled me page by page! This package is great. After the powerful impact of track one, I was concerned that following tracks might not be quite up to the same standard. No problem! There are twelve fabulous tracks = 1 fabulous album.

The arrangement and musical ability of the musicians cannot be questioned. Each track has within, a variability, which ensures the music being produced retains your attention. It is easy to imagine Mànran on stage whipping up an audience to fever pitch at a concert or festival.

I do have a concern and it is a concern that I have with many ‘young’ current folk bands. If you have a group of musicians working at a high level of ability, then it is essential that all members are at a similar level. This should also apply to the vocals. In the early days of folk a group would be formed around the singer, who was invariably the most prominent member in that group. Nowadays, the singer is often the “goalkeeper” in the group. Remember at school when picking your team, the last picked usually ended up playing in goals.

Mànran could do with beefing up their vocals. They are nicely and well sung but with such power on the instrumentation, they need to match it in the vocals. Whatever, a super album. Would I want it in my collection? Yes, I certainly would and so will every Mànran fan out there. It is excellent. My final assessment – Great album, go out and buy it.

Fraser Bruce

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Artists’ website: http://manran.co.uk/

‘An Dà Là’ – official video: