THE PAUL McKENNA BAND – Breathe (own label PMB002CD)

BreatheThe Paul McKenna Band is a Glasgow-based five-piece, lining up as Robbie Greig on fiddle, Conar Markey on banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and guitars, percussionist Ewan Baird, Conal McDonagh providing pipes and whistles with McKenna on guitar and piano, Breathe is their fifth album. Produced by Mike Vass, this time around it’s all original material save for an urgent reading of the Irish traditional Fanad Mare, the Donegal name for ‘The Nine Points Of Roguery’, a reel written by Fiddler Doyle of Fanad after supposedly experienced a vision of a druid while returning home from a dance party and based around the rhythm of his horse’s hooves.

Breathe opens with the balladeering title track, one of the four solo penned McKenna numbers, which, coloured by Uillean pipes, is a tenderly simple love song delivered in his distinctive, warbly vocal style. Played out on acoustic guitar, ‘Holding On’ is similarly restrained number about memories and mortality, while, (incorrectly numbered on the lyric booklet) ‘Open Road’ is a wistful reminiscence of a past relationship set to percussive puttering behind the circling guitar pattern, the last being the Irish migration-themed album closer ‘Foreign Land’ with its woodwind intro and a narrative about a fifteen-year-old becoming a man working in the mines before finally returning home.

Two numbers are co-writes with Canada’s Dave Gunning, first up being the piano-based, pipes and fiddle shaded ‘Never Seem To Leave, a song about a relationship broken by the conflicting desires of wanderlust and staying put, and the nimbly fingerpicked ‘Beyond The Day’, another song about the road and what lies ahead, more specifically after death, McDonagh proving brief pipes solo midway.

The remaining co-write is with Australian songwriter Liz Stringer, the musically atmospheric ‘Broken Houses’, yet again a number about themed around migration in the quest for a better life and memories of home.

Fingerpicked, softly sung and coloured with pipes and whistles, the final song is a cover of ‘The Molly May’, written by Canadian bluegrass/Celtic singer-songwriter J.P. Cornier (and himself a collaborator with Gunning) which, featured on his 1997 release Another Morning, fits neatly into the album’s pervasive themes as the narrator, recalls his years as master of the titular fishing boat before, too old to man the wheel, he finally watches it meets its end at the hand of an inexperienced boy from Canso.

One of Scotland’s most respected folk outfits, their name lauded from Ireland to America, they baffling remain little known this side of the border. Hopefully, Breathe will change that.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.paulmckennaband.com

‘Beyond The Day’ – live:

TANNARA – Strands (Braw Sailin’ Records CD006BSR)

StrandsAfter their impressive debut, Trig, Tannara could have headed into folk-rock territory – Owen Sinclair played a mean electric guitar. Alternatively, they could have turned back to their roots and with Robbie Greig coming in to replace Cameron Ross on fiddle it seems that was the direction they chose. Although all the tracks on Strands are originals (with a couple of borrowings), the band’s second outing is a more thoughtful affair. Mattie Foulds is still in place as recording engineer and occasional percussionist but Sinclair and Joseph Peach have taken over production duties.

The first track, ‘Smiling’ comprises two tunes ending in a field recording of running water which lead in the first song, ‘The Next Station Is’, which begins with voices discussing something or perhaps nothing. The songwriter and vocalist is Sinclair and the song could have been rocked up but, although there are some interesting sounds bubbling away underneath the song is lead by acoustic guitar, fiddle and accordion. It ends with a big finish without ever getting out of hand.

Peach’s ‘Good Ship’ is dedicated to Sinclair and then comes Becca Skeoch’s first contribution – not delicate harp pieces although her harp is there over the underlying keyboards and drums – but something rather modern with Greig’s fiddle as much to the fore as the harp. There’s just a touch of the grungy sound that they employed on Trig. The second song is ‘Spent Lees’, a melancholy piece again by Sinclair with Peach’s keyboards and lots of strings.

Tannara have succeeded in bringing traditional influences together with modern ideas in a way that doesn’t jar. Traditional sounding tunes pop up playfully among arrangements which are definitely modern without being outré. The final track, ‘Jutland’, with words by Les Sullivan given a very traditional tune by Sinclair, begins with the voice of Danny MacLachlan, a survivor of the battle recorded in a very formal style in 1970. The song is punctuated by the sound of Morse code and ends with Tom Anderson reminiscing about survivors watching film of the battle in their later years. It’s a modern approach while still being respectful to the past and that’s what Tannara do. I applaud them for it.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.tannaramusic.com

‘Spent Lees’ – official video:

Tannara announce new album

Tannara

2019 will be the biggest year yet for Tannara, with the release of their second album Strands at the Celtic Connections Festival 2019. The album represents a significant development for the band who have spent the past two years writing and recording this superb work.

The album was produced by Owen Sinclair and accordionist Joseph Peach, with input and guidance from Lau’s Martin Green. They’ve created a whole world around the band’s music; of found sounds and samples, synthesisers, and guest performances from Mattie Foulds on percussion and Josie Duncan on backing vocals

Following the album release, the band are set for a busy year of doing what they love best-performing- with UK tours taking place in March and September, a summer of festival appearances, and touring in mainland Europe in November.

Bold, creative, and original; Tannara (Owen Sinclair, Robbie Greig, Becca Skeoch and Joseph Peach) have established themselves as one of the UK’s most interesting and unique contemporary folk groups.

Formed in 2014, the band came about as a natural extension of the four members’ love of making music together. Fuelled by this, they’ve covered considerable musical ground over the past five years. With a background in Scotland’s native traditions, their ceaseless musical development is a melting pot of ideas, genres and sounds: From indie rock to electronica, as well as Scotland’s vibrant and diverse folk scene.

Unafraid to experiment, their music is an electrifying meeting place for a world of sounds: Punchy and clean, riotous and gritty, tender and honest. On fiddle, harp, guitar, accordion and vocals, Tannara make an intensely considered musical world which is uniquely theirs.

Their debut album Trig was released in 2016. Produced by Rachel Newton, their first offering as a band was a raw, joyous, reflection of a band finding its sound.

It was received to great acclaim, from critics and audiences alike. Described by Living Tradition Magazine as “Simply Outstanding”, it was longlisted for “Album of the Year” at the 2016 Scots Trad Music Awards, the same year in which the band were nominated for “Up and Coming Artist of the Year”.

From open air festivals, to intimate house concerts, and everything in between, the band love playing live. A fact that’s reflected by their so far busy schedule of performances and radio appearances across Europe, with highlights including Cambridge Folk Festival, and Festival Interceltique de Lorient, a performance described as “Firey and Graceful” by The Herald.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.tannaramusic.com

‘Spent Lees’ – official video: