HIRONDELLE – Hirondelle (own label)

HirondelleHirondelle is a collaborative world folk music project, led by those Northumbrian “troubadours”, the Brothers Gillespie, that survived the Covid pandemic, and now flies freely (the title is French for “swallow”!) “From the heartland of Africa to the Mediterranean and beyond to the fringes of the Atlantic islands of Britain and Ireland and back again”.

Whew! And just so you know, those Gillespie Brothers are joined by the Trio Mythos: Sophie Renshaw (viola), Lucy Russell (violin), and Ruth Philips (cello).

The first two songs stay pretty close to the British shoreline. ‘Golden One’ begins with cello/acoustic guitar introspection, but the tune soon urges into a Brothers Gillespie folk song that recalls the Dransfields, and perhaps, early Magna Carta, with great harmony voices and lovely English folk drama. Then, ‘Tina’s Song’ delves even deeper into violin carved Eden anthems that still toast the eternally “ground between two stones” John Barleycorn.

But as Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson (yet another purveyor of world music) once said, “Things change, don’t they?

So, indeed, ‘La Roumanco de Peire d’ Aragoun’ certainly crosses the Channel and pulses with French voices, percussion, and much more, curtesy of (Whew, again!) “Provencal dialect polyphonic trio, Tant Que Li Siam: Damien Toumi (voice, bendir), Marie-Madeleine Martinet (voice, saggettes, and tamburrello), and Mario Leccia (voice, zarb, tamburrello, and daf), with the occasional insertion of the musical language of Occitan”.

This is followed by ‘O Ventour’, which is yet another wild ride that begins with quiet string (Thank you, Trio Mythos!) impressionism, but erupts into a really cool “polyphonic” vocal gymnastic dance. If I may: The tune is a (non-drug-related) flashback to my long-ago order in a Paris French-Thai restaurant, with a Sans l’ anglaise menu, where I just pointed to something and hoped for the best. This album reminds me of that delicious moment spent far away from commercial fast-food jukebox.

In nice juxtaposition, ‘Northumberland I’ retreads Louis Bleriot’s flight path from France to familiar English shores, with a spoken and sad violin recitation, which preludes the quite wonderful ‘Northumberland II”, that re-introduces the Brothers Gillespie and a pretty great British folk tune.

Then, the instrumental ‘Caroline’s Cup’ sings with violin and acoustic guitar ode to any universal home in any very green valley.

The final song, ‘I Drew My Ship’, is a devotional folk hymn and a touch of beauty that makes peace with Keats’s ‘Grecian Urn’ pursuit.” Nice.

So, Hirondelle is a mysterious menu with shepherd’s pie, a ploughman’s lunch, and an always tasty sausage roll, served with a fine Trio Mythos stringed wine, with the occasional interruption of those “Provencal dialect polyphonic trio” people who grace the album with the odd voices, several saggattes, a bendir, the odd tamburrello, the always important zarb, and ever popular daf, all of which embrace this magical delicious music that is (thankfully!) far away from any commercial entity with the predictable worn taste that’s spun, again and again, in the playlist of any fast-food jukebox.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website: https://thebrothersgillespie.com/hirondelle

‘Tina’s Song’ – The Brothers Gillespie original version, live: