Belfast band Réalta’s new album, Thing Of The Earth, touches a vinyl stylus into the aged, grooved rings of an old boldly hewn oaken stump that still vibrates with the ever circular melodies of weathered wood caressed with the magic of a wonderful percussive pulse, big drops of bass authority, acoustic guitar sympathy, a piper’s glance at the stars, and plucked banjo precision.
By the way, this is a really nice traditional Irish folk record.
Indeed, the first instrumental tune, ‘Skidoo’, slides, glides, and rides over the rings of old melodies etched into Celtic Forest wisdom. The music dances in wood-circled piping joy (with dual players Conor Lamb and Loic Blejean!) and Dermot Moynagh’s bodhran bump, with the odd moment of reverential banjo introspection. Thank you, Dermot Mulholland! The same is true for the trilogy of ‘Johnny D’s – The Connaught Heifers – The Jolly Tinkers’, all of which simply dance the night away, and bend yet another banjo string a bit, too.
And the band does justice to traditional songs. ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, with Dervish singer Cathy Jordan on guest dual vocals, drifts with ancient smoke magic, cuts aged Farmstead memories, and the pipes add an eerie urge to the song, while the percussion thumps with the sound of old autumnal footsteps.
Then, a second song, ‘Mulroy Bay’, is an acoustic guitar laced ode to a lovely lost childhood memory, much like Planxty’s sublime ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’. And haloed pipes sing a solemn adieu to Erin’s emerald shores.
But the instrumental dexterity continues: ‘The Kittycat Slip Jigs: Fluffy’s Frolics – Frosty’s Frolics’ – is whistle pumped and bodhran once more bumped. Nice, again! And ‘Red Rock’ is an acoustic guitar (courtesy of Deirdre Galway) tune with a nice rivulet fluted Celtic circle dance. Then, ‘Up And About In The Morning – Scattery Island – The Slippery Dip’, unwraps the mysteries of the universe with a pipes and flute journey through time, space, and a “raggle taggle gypsy” tune or two.
The title track, ‘Thing Of The Earth’, is an original song, written and sung by guest guy, Myles McCormack. The tune, once again dips into those aged, grooved rings of an old boldly hewn oaken stump, and delivers a deep drama that is caressed with weathered wood magic.
Odd (and it’s a pleasant oddity), the Bob Dylan classic, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ gets a subdued resurrection. Perhaps the line, “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand”, needs to be freed from its Jurassic Park amber museum every once in a while.
And just so you know, my friend, Kilda Defnut, has a current pet peeve (of which I have no comment whatsoever!) in her distain for folk punk bands that usually have at least one kilt in the band’s wardrobe, seem to play a lot of festivals in America, wear a few heavy boots, and don’t have a quiet moment of traditional introspection amongst their grizzly (sort of) Celtic members.
“Thankfully”, she says, “there’s not a dropkicked by any Murphy song on this really nice album”.
That said, the album ends with ‘Ormond Sound – Jackson’s –Lucy Cambells’’ instrumental trilogy that’s a wonderful race to a banjo/bodhran/piped finish line, as Thing Of The Earth spins with grooved rings from the past that conjure an always current dance with the ever circular melodies of weathered wood and touched with very melodic traditional folk magic.
Artists’ website: https://www.realtamusic.com/
‘The Kittycat Slip Jigs’ – official video: