Before The Ruin
with John McCusker and Roddy Woomble
Mark The Hard Earth
with Eamon Coyne
Black Water & Live
Coyne and Kris Drever: Storymap Reveal
Records: Reveal 014 CDX Eamonn Coyne (Trecherous Orchestra; Salsa Celtica) and Kris Drever (Lau; Drever, McCusker, Woomble) have been collaborating on tradition-based music of the highest calibre for some time now.
This album opens with a brace of melodies that introduce immediate warmth to the proceedings – Ceapaval. The lively pace is easy on the ear rather than foot-tapping, which for me helped relax and heighten enjoyment as it gently winds towards a joyful exuberance. And with the standard set so high Storymap continues to offer warm, engaging and perfectly executed arrangements of traditional airs, jigs and reels collected by Drever, Coyne and an impressive array of guests.
Megan Henderson joins the lads on fiddle for some tracks and her contributions are just as significant and enjoyable here. Goat Walk opens with a soothing air before building up to a galloping banjo classic Abe’s Retreat and the comparatively sedate Kitty O’Neill’s Champion Jig is an irresistible combination of fiddle, backbeat and accordion. There’s a wonderful, wholesome sound throughout this album. Careful inclusion of double bass (Nico Bruce) percussion (Calum McIntyre, Éamonn Nugent), accordion (Alan Kelly), fiddle, mandolin and tenor guitar fill out the sets – Pot Luck and Teddy Bears Picnic Jigs exemplify this spirited, rich sound.
Although the main focus is on guitar, banjo and very fine tunes; there are songs to enjoy too. First of these is Farewell To Stromness. The sleeve notes tell of a traditional song collected by the Orkney Song Project, although Peter Maxwell Davies has also laid claim to the melody. Whatever its lineage, the song’s presence on this album is considerably enhanced by the inclusion of Eliza Carthy’s unmistakeable harmonies. May Morning Dew is treated as a slow air rather than the more familiar waltz. The music on Storymap is traditional, and although the whole collection delights in an expansive approach to the arrangements, the heart of the album itself couldn’t be more rooted.
Storymap is a gem of an album, at the heart of which is collaboration and tradition. There is nothing experimental or groundbreaking about any of the music, and the arrangements feel like a session in a pub amongst friends because each musician brings their own personality and musical style to create this great album.
Mike Norris Review published in Folk London - August 2013
Race the Loser Reveal
Records: RevealonCDX Lau
is a Scottish contemporary folk band formed in 2006 and consists of
Kris Drever (vocals / guitar), Martin Green (accordion) and Aidan
O’Rourke (fiddle). The name comes from the Orcadian word
meaning natural light. ‘Introducing unusual rhythms, jazz
influences, and a certain amount of improvisation, they created a
subtly provocative style of arrangements and tune-playing basically
not heard before in the folk circles they mostly frequented. They
met on the vibrant Edinburgh session scene where jazz musicians also
congregated and there was much spontaneous crossover between jazz and
folk. Race the Loser
was made in Scotland with American producer Tucker Martine and pushes
Lau’s complex yet accessible sound even further to the outer
reaches of folk music whilst retaining all the strengths of the
original acoustic trio.’
music on this CD was written by the band and all lyrics by Kris
Drever. Of the songs Saint Monday is taken at a slow tempo
and is repetitive - almost hypnotic. The most immediate is probably
The Bird That Winds the Spring. Most of the tracks though are
instrumentals. Far From Portland like most of the tracks
features a lot of electronics and has nothing to do with ‘folk’.
Some of the others though do show some Scottish traditional music
influence. Save the Bees is a reel. Torsa has a
bluegrass influence and Noltland Castle couldhave been
played by a piper.
North Review published in Folk London - December 2012