It’s rare to find an album of traditional Irish music opening with a disturbingly modern sounding guitar figure before sliding into the first tune but quite a few things about Réalta are unusual.
Conor Lamb and Aaron O’Hagan both play uilleann pipes and whistles while Deirdre Galway handles the rhythm duties on guitar and bouzouki as well as being the band’s vocalist. That’s a reversal of the usual order of things but it means the band can be as delicate as you please as is the case with the opening title track while the combination of two sets of pipes is pretty powerful. They use it to great effect on the closing ‘La Volta/Drops Of Brandy’ and particularly on ‘Sliabh Geal gCua’. This is the air of an expatriate song; a song of longing for home. It could be taken gently and wistfully but the twin pipes wring every drop of pain out of the melody; not so much a sea breeze as an ocean gale.
Two of the songs sound rather jolly. They’re sung in Irish but Réalta helpfully provide synopses of the stories. The third, ‘Gathering Mushrooms’, is in English and seems to be about sex as so many traditional songs are, or am I finding a double entendre where none is intended?
This is a distinguished debut album from a band who, although young, already have a great deal of experience between them. Sadly, there don’t appear to be any plans for them to play in England in the near future although they will be at Celtic Connections in January.
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Artist’s website: http://www.realtamusic.com/