RÉALTA – Clear Skies (Réalta Music ADC 002)

Clear SkiesSince their debut album back in 2012, Réalta have expanded into a quintet with the addition of Dermot Moynagh’s percussion and multi-instrumentalist Dermot Mulholland. The focus of the band is still the twin uilleann pipes of Conor Lamb and Aaron O’Hagan but Deirdre Galway’s guitar seems to have taken something of a back seat.

Their second album opens with a sparkling set of Asturian tunes that open with Mulholland’s bouzouki before the rest of the band pile in on top of him. There are some nice stereo tricks that you may not notice the first time through. That’s followed by a song whose first notes tell you that it can only be Irish – ‘The Longford Weaver’ warns of the dangers that alcohol presents to the young and unwary. A pair of whistle-led slides follows and then comes the beautiful 18th century air, ‘Úr-Chnoc Chéin Cáinte’, led by O’Hagan’s mournful playing.

Galway’s piano underpins another 18th century love song, ‘Máire Ini Mhic Ailpin’, this one sung in Gaelic by Hulholland before sets of jigs and reels more typical of the band’s vivacious style. ‘Tabhair Dom Do Lámb’ is another beautiful air written by the blind Irish harper, Ruaidhri Dall Ó Catháin, and led initially by O’Hagan’s flute before the pipes take over. Finally Deirdre gets front and centre to sing ‘Kellswaterside’ before two more dance sets round out the album. Clear Skies is rather more sophisticated than its predecessor and Réalta have had four years to grow and develop. I wonder what the next four years with bring.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.realtamusic.com/

‘The Longford Weaver’ – promo video:

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