ReSessionRe:Session is the third album from Belfast band The Rapparees; an album of songs about Ulster or written by Ulster writers.

The material varies from the traditional ‘Slieve Gallion Braes’, an old song about hardship and rising rents to Barry Kerr’s song of ecological revenge, ‘Mother Earth’. This album, particularly the instrumental sets, are weighted towards modern material although it can be hard to tell sometimes and I’m still not sure if ‘Belfast Mountains’ is a variant on the traditional song collected by Lucy Broadwood or a new version (mostly) written by Alan Burke. What it does mean is that the record presents a smooth spectrum from the obviously traditional to the definitely modern.

The core instrumentation is guitar, banjo, fiddle and bouzouki but each of the chaps plays three or four instruments and three of them take lead vocals. Producer Liam Bradley plays keyboards and Eamon Murray provides percussion with distinguished guests including Beoga’s Sean Óg Graham and singer Pauline Scanlon. The music is largely up-tempo, even the tale of the harsh conditions in ‘Derry Gaol’, and the more reflective pieces, like ‘The Stranmillis Fox’ and ‘Randalstown Rambler’, often have an optimistic outlook – OK, not ‘Belfast Mountains’ or ‘Slieve Gallion Braes’ – but Re:Session won’t have you crying in your poitine.

Dai Jeffries

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