Damien Dempsey – ALMIGHTY LOVE

For Damien Dempsey, people and place are King. His voice is Dublin yet wholly distinctive, almost clichéd to say it, but he is part of a rich bloodline of Irish singers from Luke Kelly to Ronnie Drew, Christy Moore to Andy Irvine. Their kin outside Ireland are Springsteen and Guthrie, Dylan and Marley.

In his new album ALMIGHTY LOVE, Dempsey’s sense of place reaches out beyond Donaghmede and North Bull Island, where he first performed in public as a teenager, across the Irish Sea and further afield. The locale is still in the lyrics. It’s there in the hauntingly poetical Chris and Stevie, a tribute to male bonding and grief. You can hear it in Canadian Geese – large migratory birds whose flight path took them past Dempsey’s boyhood window. It’s there also in the references to railway tracks and waves, visible from the rooftops of Dempsey’s childhood home. Those railway tracks took Dempsey and his boyhood friends out into their own imaginations and he hasn’t forgotten. ALMIGHTY LOVE goes on a journey of a different kind. Dempsey, at 37 years old, has already said so much about self and state that trying to plough over old ground wouldn’t have been artistically challenging or fresh. So instead, he has given us an album of confidence and maturity, which has a more global sound to it and a broader scope. It is at once bigger and quieter, still rallying against injustice, yet with a more reflective and thoughtful tone, communicated more widely. It’s not that ALMIGHTY LOVE is a radical departure. It’s more an evolution on previous themes and concepts. The anthems are still there: Bustin Outta Here, The Good and the Great, Community and Almighty Love. His generosity of spirit, affiliation with those in need and the downtrodden, and recognition of their suffering, remains. It prevails even when that preoccupation may shine a spotlight on aspects of modern society that are uncomfortable to face.

Glorious revolutions can breed terrible evil and rage. Bob Marley understood that and London based poet and rapper Kate Tempest understands it too. She collaborates with rhythmical focus and fury on Born Without Hate, adding to the internationally grounded feel of the album. Of the 100 or so songs earmarked for the album, nine originals and just one cover were chosen– Andy Stewart’s Fire in the Glen, which Damien was singing in the kitchen late one night and it stayed in the air and drifted into the studio. Sinéad O’Connor, one of the greatest voices of her generation, adds backing vocals, but gives without taking. Her voice alongside Damien’s makes sense in their mutual authenticity and authority. Making ALMIGHTY LOVE was a long and careful process. Damien worked with long-term collaborator John Reynolds, who is an internationally recognised producer. This is their fifth album together, and theirs is an instinctive and homely artistic relationship, and it shows.

Damien’s debut album in 2000, THEY DON’T TEACH THIS SHIT IN SCHOOL set him apart as a unique and important voice, championed from an early stage in his career by Sinéad O’Connor and others. The follow-up, SEIZE THE DAY, released in 2003, marked the beginning of his relationship with producer John Reynolds, picking up many awards and leading to extensive international tours. Commercial and critical success continued with the release of the No. 1 album SHOTS in 2005, backed by Brian Eno, and TO HELL OR BARBADOS in 2007, which debuted at No.2 in the Irish charts.

Damien is an award-winning artist, having won several prestigious Irish Meteor Awards including Best Irish Male and Best Traditional Folk Award. His albums have topped the charts and gone Platinum, and he has been lauded by, among others, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Billboard, MOJO and The Sunday Times. Since the release of his last album, Damien’s creativity has found other outlets also. One notable project was with Irish graffiti artist Maser, on a project entitled ‘They Are Us’. This was sparked by Dempsey’s lyrics, and involved the painting of his words on derelict buildings in Dublin. Sales of the limited edition prints raised funds for The Simon Community, which was a charity set up to help the homeless and disenfranchised in Dublin and elsewhere. Dempsey’s charitable work continued in December 2010, when he and Oscar winning songwriter Glen Hansard recorded and performed the Irish folk classic, ‘The Auld Triangle’. Monies raised went towards the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) ‘Keep The Lights On’ Campaign.

Since his first live outings in the mid-1990s, Damien’s gigs have seen him wow audiences across the globe, and his performances have taken on a spiritual and soulful quality. October/November 2012 will see Damien touring throughout the UK and Ireland, for more information and the latest tour dates visit www.damiendempsey.com

“Dempsey’s musical heroes are now his admirers. And this is an Irish classic.” The Guardian

The Dublin folk hero is a stirring mixture of grit and grace and tenderly soulful” MOJO

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Madison Violet – The Good In Goodbye

JUNO nominated Canadian roots duo Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac) recently concluded their UK & Ireland tour in support of their new album The Good in Goodbye.

Since releasing their previous album No Fool for Trying (2009), Madison Violet have won the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their track ‘The Ransom’, taken home the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, and been nominated for multiple East Coast Music Awards and a 2010 JUNO Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Group).

The Good in Goodbye continues the duo’s growth and musical maturity, their distinct take on iconic Americana-inspired up-tempo melodies beautifully contrasts with their breathtakingly sweeping and personal lyrics, creating songs that blend nods to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch with the radio-friendly flecks of The Court Yard Hounds.

Receiving a mass of acclaim from outlets including the BBC, the CBC, Country Music People, Maverick Magazine, NPR, and Penguin Eggs Magazine, No Fool for Trying made dedicated fans of even the most hard-to-crack critics. Ultimately, Madison Violet captured the attention of Mojo Magazine, landing “Small Of My Heart” on the publication’s distinguished playlist, “Mojo’s Top 10”, in December 2009. Madison Violet also have the unique distinction of being the only Canadians to win The John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

With The Good In Goodbye, Madison Violet prove they’re among Canada’s brightest singer/songwriters.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Artist web link: www.madisonviolet.com

The Streets Forget by Eamon Friel…

Eamon Friel is the son of a Mayo mother and Derry father. He writes about his life, experiences and his observations of the ever changing world that he sees around him. Friel’s writing is mystical painting pictures with his word play which could be compared with that of the landscape artist, each word carefully chosen and lovingly placed upon the page. Mountains and hills become people in a place where animals talk and the soul and being are more important than time itself. The landscape of Ireland its churches, rivers and towns entwined with the effect it has had on its people; it’s all there in the songs.

Born in London’s Stockwell with childhood summers spent in Ireland, the family left Stockwell and returned to his father’s troubled hometown of Derry, Londonderry, Stroke City call it what you will. It was the youthful experience of cultural change and upheaval that left a lasting impression on the mind of a young man that would later emerge in songs penned in W.B Yeats like mystical imagery from a place in time and a time in place.

” Summers were spent in County Mayo among my mother’s people on a farm. Like James Joyce in Paris murmuring the names of Dublin streets I still walk those fields of childhood in my mind…Maighne Mor, Ruan, Garrett’s Land, Cnoc An Chonai, The Noggan and Grawn. For a townie like me it was like living in the garden of Eden.” Eamon Friel

If proof of his ability as a songwriter were ever needed we need look no further than recent song covers by Sean Donnelly, The Fureys, Pete & Jan, Bill Jones, Sean Tyrell and the Japanese band Brahman.

Friel is one of the few artists around that can say he was actually paid by radio to write topical, comic and satirical songs to order. He was at one time commissioned to write songs for BBC Radio Ulster’s “Talkback” the lunch time inter-active news programme. A task he often had to carry out at the drop of a hat to meet the changing political and social demands of the day.

Here is what Eamon said about the new album. “Walking west along the road I heard a fairground carousel. I danced a tango. I sang a lullaby. I demanded a better future. I remembered young love. I spoke to a man who had little to say. I talked to the devil. I looked at the stars. I watched a man find courage. I saw clouds in a wet road. I met a man fallen on hard times. I wrote a song about each of these things. That’s what songs are for. Eleven songs for an album.”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

Adrian Duffy releases Storm Breaking

Singer-songwriter, Adrian Duffy, delivers super-crafted folk pop songs that combine simple yet infectious melodies with an intimacy and storytelling flavour fondly reminiscent of the early Eagles. These are the kinds of songs you think have been around forever, winning Adrian enthused critics and dedicated fans up and down the country.

As well as a great solo performer, these new songs bring together for the first time a family full of world class musicians all steeped in their west coast of Ireland heritage. Melvin Duffy on slide guitars (Robbie Williams, The Waterboys, Mojave 3), Chris Duffy on drums & percussion (Chima Anya, Tommy Ludgate), Ray & Leo Duffy on mandolin & fiddle (Tammy Wynette, Charlie Pride) weaved and intertwined with Adrian’s vocals and acoustic guitar to produce a stunning, rootsy sound that is refreshingly authentic and sincere.

As brothernature Adrian toured his songwriting around venues as varied as Birmingham Symphony Hall, Liverpool Philharmonic, Whelan’s, Ronnie Scott’s and CBGB’s. The debut album “Looking Down The Road” received glowing press and radio reviews as well as international, national and regional playlists and album of the week picks.

Single of The Week – BBC Radio Wales

Hotly tipped – Janice Long, BBC Radio 2

A staggering collection of acoustic belters – FHM

Super-crafted harmony-suffused acoustic country-pop songs – Hotpress 10/10

A sound comparable to Damien Rice and Neil Finn (Crowded House) – Music Week

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

PAUL BRADY – DANCER IN THE FIRE: A PAUL BRADY ANTHOLOGY

‘Dancer In The Fire’ is a rich and diverse double CD of Paul Brady’s favourite recordings, personally chosen by the artist and serving as a companion to ‘Nobody Knows – The Best Of Paul Brady’, a single CD compilation released in 1999.   Paul will be touring the UK in April and May.

The idea to put together this collection came as a result of being asked many times over the years, what are my own favourites out of all that I’ve done? I’ve always found it hard to answer. I’ve gone through so many musical shapes over my 45 year career that I’m never sure which incarnation the question relates to. Sometimes I feel compelled to name those songs or recordings that are the best known, imagining that if I mention one less familiar or from a different genre to where the questioner is coming from then there won’t be a lot more to say.  Or maybe too much to say!

Since I went solo in the late 70’s I’ve released 15 albums, 140 songs or so, most of them new compositions. In the late 90’s I put out a best-of-to-date, ‘Nobody Knows’, featuring 14 of the most popular recordings from the previous two decades. Undoubtedly a lot of those were favourites of mine too.  But like many artists I know, I don’t always feel the most popular songs or the most successful recordings are necessarily the best things I’ve done.  Sometimes you find yourself neglecting songs you absolutely loved when you wrote and recorded them, simply because they never really seemed to connect with the listener at the time.  Or maybe you just thought they didn’t. It’s complicated and a mystery to me!

With this record I decided to focus on songs and recordings of mine I’m personally fond of, mostly those that might not have got a lot of attention or been all that well known. Some recordings have been out of circulation for years. In a couple of cases I’ve remixed a well known song. The only area I’ve left alone is my most recent album ‘Hooba Dooba’ and those recordings already on the 1999 best-of.

To anyone coming to my music for the first time this may seem an eclectic collection. I’ve grown up in the rich musical environment of Ireland from the 1950s to the present day; a unique and heady mixture. I feel very lucky to have formed my musical identity before the rigid categorisation introduced by marketing and the media in the 70s. The stylistic diversity of this record bears witness to that fertile ground.

Paul Brady, Dublin January 2012.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

LORCÁN MAC MATHÚNA – Northern Lights – Darkness And Light – Own Label LMMO11001

Lorcán Mac Mathúna is best known in Ireland as a Sean-Nós singer. He’s also a man of great imagination and Darkness And Light (Dubh Agus Geal to give it its Irish title) is the first result of his Northern Lights project, exploring the links between the music of Ireland and Scandinavia.

If you think that’s odd, Lorcán explains that a thousand years ago Dublin was a major Viking ship building port and the cultural cross-fertilization was evident as late as the 16th century. If you still doubt consider ‘Sven In The Rosegarden’ and ‘I’m Sick To My Heart’ which bear strong similarities to British ballads. All the songs on this album are traditional, sung in Irish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. Lorcán is joined by Raphael De Cock, James Mahon, Connor Lyons and Joey Doyle in a band heavy with drones, whistles and flutes. There are two sets of pipes, hardingfele and Jews Harp producing a haunting, almost mediaeval sound when coupled with the vocals of Lorcán and Raphael.

‘Over The Waves’ mixes two songs, ‘Hermond Don Idde’ and ‘Craigie Hill’, with alternate verses in Danish and English leading into two rather jolly tunes. ‘The Frozen North’ again alternates verses, this time in Norwegian and Irish, telling a story which has parallels with ‘The Ship In Distress’ and is the most haunting performance on the album.

Although Dubh Agus Geal may appear at first to be a rather scholarly and esoteric work it is also extremely listenable. Not only do the players mix songs they also mix dance tunes with hardanger fiddle, pipes and lilting into something new. There is a great deal to discover in this record and much to enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Links: www.lorcanmacmathuna.com