Christy Moore announces new live album

Christy Moore

Christy Moore’s new album, Magic Nights, will be released worldwide on 22nd November 2019. Featuring 26 songs across two discs, Magic Nights is a further collection of Christy songs amassed through more than 50 incredible years of recording and gigging.

Recorded in venues from Derry to Dublin, Birmingham to Belfast and Liverpool to Lisdoonvarna, the album features many newly recorded live favourites.

The first song to be taken from Magic Nights is ‘Hurt’, a take on Johnny Cash’s classic version of the Trent Reznor masterpiece. Following on from his multi-platinum 2017 album, On The Road, this is Magic Nights in Christy’s words:

“We are about to release a new album of songs for your consideration. It contains 26 new live recordings gathered under the title of “Magic Nights” The opening track is “Magic Nights In The Lobby Bar”. A version of John Spillane/Ger Wolf’s classic song recorded at The Opera House, Cork in 2014. We have recorded all our gigs in recent years. Producer Jimmy Higgins and Sound Engineer David Meade selected these takes from hundreds of gigs. It has been an enjoyable process. Listening back and discovering special moments, riffs that went unnoticed, choruses long forgotten.

Every gig develops its own atmosphere, every audience being a unique gathering of listeners.

In Belfast we dedicated ‘Burning Times’ to Lyra McKee, her young life so cruelly ended on The Creggan.

In Glasgow I responded to a call-out for ‘Spancil Hill and what followed was, for me, a very special version of young Michael Considine’s beautiful song.

When we played Dreamland in Athy I sang Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Hurt’. I was 18 when I heard him sing in that very same Dancehall. A night I have never forgotten. (Albert Reynolds was on the door!).

In Vicar St, Dublin a voice called out for ‘Johnny Jump Up’. The band had not played it before but I dived in and they followed. I cherish such spontaneous moments.

In recent months I have happened upon Sean Mone’s ‘Rosalita & Jack Cambell’, Pete St John’s ‘Inchicore Wake’, Rob Corcoran’s ‘Ringing That Bell’ and Albert Niland’s ‘Irish Pagan Ritual’ (aka ‘Sail on Jimmy’) Each one taking its place in the set and gathering momentum along the way.

It’s 50 years this year since I released my first album.

I have deep gratitude for the mystery of it all. At work I’m surrounded by a great team of comrades. Their talents and vital contributions keep the show on the road.

Each night at 8.05 we stand side stage, breathe in the air of expectancy, the intoxicating waft of perfume and after shave. The crew complete their final checks, the lights go down and out we go once more to face the music.

Thank you for listening, One and all. – Christy.

Artist’s website:

‘Sail On Jimmy’ – live:


ÚrnuaCarl Hession is held to be one of the finest accompanists, arrangers and composers in Irish music; a veteran of Moving Cloud and a number of bands with Frankie Gavin. Concertina player Francis Cunningham and harpist Eimear Coughlan are both making their recording debuts on Úrnua in this distinguished company. Also appearing are violinist Bogden Sofei, cellist Sharon Howley and percussionist Jim Higgins. It’s a tribute to Carl’s skills as a producer that Eimear’s harp shines so brightly in the mix.

If I were a talented session player I’d be all over this album like a cheap suit. There are forty tunes here, spread over eighteen tracks – some sound deceptively simple and others definitely are not. The majority are written in the Irish traditional style: reels and jigs with a set of slip jigs and another of polkas plus slow reels, a march and a couple of waltzes.

Sadly, I’m not a player and here’s my problem. I’m not a fan of the piano in folk music although I appreciate its use as a continuo in Celtic music. To his credit, Carl doesn’t try to dominate the other players but provides a firm basis for the melodies, enriching the sound while allowing space for the harp and concertina. Secondly; can a tune be traditional if it’s only just been written? Inevitably, some of these tunes will be adopted into the tradition and welcomed simply because they are good tunes but their origins will always be documented. Is that also the case with the majority of Irish instrumental music?

Because of the above my favourite tracks are those which don’t quite fit the traditional mould. ‘Celtic Storm’ is listed as an adagio and classical gigue and ‘Minuet/Sprightly Spring’ is a paring of a minuet and a waltz while ‘Inishbofin’ is a delightfully mournful slow air. The playing is never less than exemplary and, despite myself, my foot was definitely tapping by the end.

Dai Jeffries

‘Sporting Galway/The White Plains/Threadneedle Reel’:

CHRIS CLEVERLEY – We Sat Back And Watched It Unfold (Opiate Records OPI001)

We Sat Back And Watched It UnfoldI loved Chris Cleverley’s first album, Apparitions, which appeared in 2015. That was four years ago so he hasn’t rushed into recording his follow-up. In that time he’s written and performed, formed a trio with Kim Lowings and Kathy Pilkinton and made lots more friends, several of whom appear here. Although a skilled interpreter of traditional material and other people’s songs, Chris has gone down the songwriter route. The twelve songs here are all original; there’s one co-write with Sam Kelly who also co-produced the album. For the avoidance of any doubt let me say now that We Sat Back And Watched It Unfold is a stunning piece of work.

These are deep, serious songs although Chris leavens them with humour. The opener, ‘The Arrows And The Armour’, is a witty love song decorated by Jamie Francis’ banjo and Katie Stevens’ flute and I guarantee that by the end the song you’ll be hooked. ‘Scarlet Letter’ is a reworking of the first part of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel and the thing is that Chris doesn’t make Hester Prynne sound terribly sorry for her action.

‘I Can’t Take It’ is an odd meditation on the effect that events have on shaping our personalities and then comes the title track. It feels vaguely Orwellian and it might help if you’ve watched Mr Robot, which I haven’t. Like ‘I Can’t Take It’, it uses health care as a metaphor and Chris is right: we have sat back and watched it unfold and look at the mess we’re in. ‘A Voice For Those Who Don’t Have One’ considers mental health in a way that is very simple to relate to and by the end it has crept up on you. I confess that it brought a tear to my eye. It leads smoothly into ‘Happy And Proud’, a song about gender identity and ‘The Ones Like Ourselves’ which is…well…a song for people who don’t really fit in. I can relate to that.

Chris takes a side-step into history with ‘Madame Moonshine’. I’m still trying to decide if it’s about what he says it’s about or something other. Victorian perversity lives in the song – even reading the words leads you into a Dickensian world – and the strangeness of the music can bring on a shudder. The co-write, ‘The Low Light Low’ is based melodically on ‘The Golden Vanity’ but only just and lyrically it’s completely different.  At this point I’d pretty much decided that Chris Cleverley was living up to his name and playing mind games with his listeners by writing a song about something and then feeding us a line.

Musically, We Sat Back And Watched It Unfold is a weighty album. I should mention Evan Carson and Lukas Drinkwater on percussion and bass, Graham Coe on cello and Marion Fleetwood and Hannah Martin on violins and viola who worked to produce this wall of sound. Some of songs I’ll need to puzzle out a bit more but the music makes them very easy to listen to. Unless several truly astonishing things turn up before December this will be one of my albums of the year.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘In A Dreamlike State’:


MandorlaIn early September Pierre Schryer and Adam Dobres released Mandorla, an album which features tunes from across the world. Schryer is one of Canada’s leading traditional fiddle players with a wealth of awards to his name; Dobres is a guitar player with a similarly broad international background and an easy skill, on this album mainly on acoustic guitar.

Mandorla, I gather, is a noun which means “an almond shape made by the intersection of two circles of the same radius creating the outline of a lens; a dynamic symbol that signifies the overlap of two entities and their commonality” – you can see the linked letters ‘O’ and ‘D’ in the album cover above. The title clearly relates both to the interlinking of musical styles, different countries – and the playing of Schryer and of Dobres.

The album has ten tracks and there are plenty of lovely tunes and playing throughout. The video below takes you to ‘Bruach na Carraige Baine’ (The Edge of the White Rock) which I’ve picked out to show how the two musicians complement each other on this haunting love song from southwest Ireland.

But I could have picked most of the tracks. The opening ‘Berber Tune/Blue Fiddle/ Trip To Dingle’ is also one of my favourites. As the title indicates, the track is a medley of tunes from different parts of the world a traditional north African tune pairing with a slip-polka and a contemporary polka. This is much more upbeat than ‘Bruach na Carraige Baine’ and, in a different way, just as delightful.

The album as a whole, then, is a lovely mix of styles and origins which Schryer & Dobres lift through their playing. ‘Fleur de Mandragore/Berthier-sur-mer’ are a couple of tunes from a French-Canadian heritage, similarly ‘La Valse Des Jouets’. Elsewhere traditional tunes are blended with newer music. ‘Orca’s Jig/The Humours Of Glendart/The Banks Of Lough Gowna’ mixes a Dobres tune with the two from the Irish tradition – and will get you wanting to dance; ‘Twas Within A Furlong Of Edinburgh Town/My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe/Carolan’s Concerto’ mingles Scottish, Irish and baroque. Dobres’ ‘Freda’s Journey’ is influenced stylistically by the voyage his Jewish grandmother took from Russia to Canada; likewise, ‘Lapp’s House of Music/Whitefish in the Rapids’ combines Schryer’s composition with a traditional reel.

I’ll conclude by quoting the sleeve notes for the final track, ‘Sheepskin & Beeswax/The Easy Club Reel/Tico Tico’: “Tunes from different parts of the world written at different points in time meet in the “mandorla” of commonality. This set represents the natural transformation of music as it passes from ear to ear, hand to hand. An old Irish reel arrives in Quebec, a contemporary Scottish tune finds its way to the west of Canada, a Brazilian choro becomes a North American favourite” – those notes give you a good sense of Mandorla the album, a melting pot of music which two skilled musicians make a delight to listen to.

Mike Wistow

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‘Bruach na Carraige Baine’:


Jon Boden announces new album and live dates

Jon Boden And The Remnant Kings

Chicago-born and Sheffield-based folk outlier Jon Boden has recently announced his fourth solo album, Rose In June, which is due for release November 1st on Hudson Records, and is now sharing the second single from the album, ‘Leviathan’. In support of the album, Boden will play six UK live dates, commencing at Bristol’s St George’s on November 20 and including London’s Union Chapel on November 21.

Rose In June, which follows 2017’s post-apocalyptic concept album Afterglow, sees Boden back in the studio with his trusted band, The Remnant Kings. He says of the album, recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios:

“Since this band was debuted live at Cambridge Folk Festival on the main stage in 2016 we’ve been able to tour the UK and play many festivals in this bigger line-up so it felt very important to get into the studio and record lots of the stuff that is central to the live set, but has never been committed to tape.”

As such, live favourites have all been lovingly rendered here by producer and long-time collaborator, Andy Bell. Across twelve tracks, the new album is comprised of traditional songs (‘Rose In June’, ‘All Hang Down’, ‘Seven Bonnie Gypsies’, ‘Rigs of the Time’), alongside Boden’s own arrangements (‘Leviathan / Tombola’, ‘Going Down To The Wasteland’, ‘Ruin Reel’) and covers of Ewan MacColl (‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’) and Kate Bush (‘Hounds of Love’).

Despite the many projects he’s been involved in, Jon Boden is no doubt best known as the lead singer and main arranger of Bellowhead. After twelve years, a quarter of a million album sales, seven singles on the Radio 2 playlist and selling out hundreds of venues throughout the land and beyond. Widely respected as an interpreter of traditional song, it’s been through his solo live shows where he’s truly been able to showcase his instrumental talents on fiddle, guitar and concertina, as well as his trademark ‘stomp box’ which he and John Spiers introduced into to the world of traditional music in 2001. Through his solo work and his work with Bellowhead and Spiers & Boden, Jon has won eleven BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

His most recent album Afterglow was released in October 2017 and continued Jon’s explorations of a post-oil world (a theme first explored on 2009’s Songs From The Floodplain), this time following the course of two lovers over the night of a fire-lit city carnival. The first single from the album ‘All The Stars Are Coming Out Tonight’ was playlisted on BBC Radio 2. The release was followed by the launch of the 11-piece Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings which toured the UK in autumn 2017 and spring 2018. Summer 2018 saw the big band in demand for major folk festivals including Wickham Festival, Beautiful Days, Snape Proms and Shrewsbury Folk Festival. 2019 saw Jon touring with the three string players from the band and performing in both the 6 piece and 11 piece versions of the Remnant Kings.

Following months on the road, Rose In June captures Boden’s inimitable folk storytelling backed by The Remnant Kings after they’ve been hardened by touring, the songs constantly evolving as they were performed by a rotating cast of members. The resulting album finds both Boden and band at the top of their game.

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20 November 19 – St George’s, Bristol

21 November 19 – Union Chapel, London

22 November 19 – The Old Market, Brighton

23 November 19 – Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa

24 November 19 – RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester

25 November 19 – Sage, Gateshead

Tommy Sands announces new album

Tommy Sands

A new album release from Tommy Sands is always a special event but Fair Play To You All on Spring Records is perhaps one of his most special offerings of all. One glance at the cover or a single listen to the music will immediately delight of course but there is so much behind the cover and between the lines that you will find yourself slowly feasting on the contents for a long time to come.

The title itself is an oft used throwaway line in Ireland but in the pen-hand of Tommy Sands it becomes much more profound and an overture to the album itself.

“Tommy Sands is one of the most productive and prolific performers in the history of Irish music and indeed one of the truly great songwriters in global music.

His songs have become part of a long and venerable tradition that now reaches all over the world.

He continues to be a veritable powerhouse of creativity in world music and writes new songs that touch the nerve of all those concerned with social justice and enduring peace between people of all creeds and ethnicities. He is a true humanist gifted with a unique ability to reach across ethnic divides particularly in his homeland, a territory that has been racked by divisions for literally hundreds of years.

This remarkable recording with the extraordinary musician Steve Cooney is sure to be an enduring contribution to Irish and world music.” Professor Michael (Mick) Moloney, New York University.

Tommy Sands will be touring England and Scotland in November (dates to be announced) and Mayobridge Golf Club 50 Crossan Road, Mayobridge, Newry, Co. Down on December 28th.

 Artist’s website:

The classic ‘There Were Roses’: