YE VAGABONDS – Ye Vagabonds (Inglenook Records YVB01)

Ye VagabondsI heard Ye Vagabonds supporting Roy Harper at the Festival Hall last year, and that is a hell of a gig for a duo who hadn’t yet released an album. They took it in their stride, however, and I was impressed with the way they sounded.

Ye Vagabonds are brothers Diarmuid and Brían Mac Gloinn from Dublin. Diarmuid plays guitar while Brían handles most of the decoration on bouzouki, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar. Both have strong voices and sing together as only siblings can. All the material here is original except for the traditional ‘Lowlands Of Holland’ which closes the set.

Pinning down a definition of their sound is difficult. They are supported by Alain Mc Fadden on harmonium and mandolin and Nicholas Cooper’s strings. The harmonium can provide a drone and the massed strings can give a sense of the ethereal, almost magical. ‘Lowlands Of Holland’ is certainly Irish and the boys borrowed their tune from Paddy Tunney. It’s the only time that their Irish accents are allowed to dominate but their original material seems to reflect their heritage.

The opener, ‘Go Where You Will’, is a big song to start with – nothing ethereal about it – but the imagery of the love story evokes for me thoughts of an old draughty castle and pictures of wild Irish weather. The second single, ‘Half Blind’, uses similar rural images of “irons in the fire” and “dangling on the line”. The first single, ‘Song Long Forgotten’, has a mysterious lyric, clearly a metaphor, but for what? Perhaps it’s just about morning, continuing the theme of the beautiful ‘Wake Up’. ‘Whistling Wind’ sets its cap firmly against religion which may still count as brave but my top track is ‘Way Up On The Mountain’, another enigmatic lyric. If you were to ask what it was about, I’d suggest that the answer would be “life” which is what most songs are about in some way or another.

Ye Vagabonds have made a fine debut album; beautifully played songs that will take you off somewhere in your imagination.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Go Where You Will’ live: