Trad & Folk
Artists and Albums
Hello! This page is part of an opinionated overview of Celtic and British folk music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... This is not meant to be taken as a "definitive" resource, but rather as a record of some of the music which has caught my interest. I'm always looking for more good music to explore, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This is the first page covering the letter "K"
Mike Katz "A Month Of Sundays (Temple, 2004)
Solo work from Mike Katz, piper with the Battlefield Band...
Dolores Keane "There Was A Maid" (Claddagh, 1978)
She looks so stern on the album's cover, yet the music is so lovely! Emerging in the late 1970s from her native Galway, Keane swiftly established herself as one of Ireland's best interpreters of traditional song, with a lovely voice that retains a hint of historical menace. These early recordings, with sympathetic but somewhat minimal backup instrumental accompaniment, aren't quite as incandescent as the Broken Hearted I'll Wander and Sail Og Rua albums reviewed below... Still, it's pretty lovely stuff. The CD liner notes don't list the artists in the Reel Union band; John Faulkner wrote the liner notes, but I'm not sure if he also played on the album. At any rate, this is certainly worth picking up, particularly if you are already one of her fans.
Dolores Keane & John Faulkner "Broken Hearted I'll Wander" (Green Linnet, 1979)
As a young'un in the late 1970s, singer Dolores Keane was just a bit on the squeaky side; as she attained old-timers staus in the '90s, she took on a slightly leaden gravity. But in between, at the peak of her powers, she could not be beaten. These collaborations with multi-instrumentalist John Faulkner are like glittering, precious gems among the firmament of a trad scene that was heading towards overly-elaborate, crossover production. Keane's voice is so gorgeous, and Faulkner's accompaniment so tasteful and compelling, that this album is simply irresistible.
Dolores Keane & John Faulkner "Farewell To Eirinn" (1980)
Dolores Keane & John Faulkner "Sail Og Rua" (Green Linnet, 1984)
Another gorgeous set from Faulkner and Keane... This album, with its tenatative addition of one (single) electronic instrument has a slightly less mystical tone, but both albums are highly, highly recommended.
Dolores Keane "Dolores Keane" (Alula, 1988)
Dolores Keane "Lion In A Cage" (Alula, 1989)
Dolores Keane "Solid Ground" (Alula, 1993)
Dolores Keane & Rita Eriksen "Tideland" (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 1996)
Dolores Keane "Night Owl" (Alula, 1998)
Keane and Faulkner are back, with another stately set, that overall feels a bit listless and stuffy, but still has an elegance and gravity to it reminiscent of their early albums. This isn't her best work, but it's still pretty solid; June Tabor fans might like this one.
Dolores Keane "May Morning Dew" (Am Cheoil, 2004)
Dolores Keane "The Best Of Dolores Keane" (Shanachie, 1997)
Dolores Keane "Where Have All The Flowers Gone: The Very Best Of Dolores Keane" (Dara, 2003)
The Keane Family "Muintir Chathain" (Gael Linn, 1985) (LP)
Yup! That's Dolores and her kin... Singing some real-deal Gaelic folk music!
Sarah & Rita Keane "Once I Loved" (Claddagh, 1969)
Traditional Irish and English songs from sisters Sarah and Rita Keane, of Galway, the aunts of singers Dolores Keane (above) and Sean Keane, who branched out into more contemporary folk-pop. The Keanes have also recorded together, as a family group.
Sean Keane "Gusty's Frolics" (Claddagh, 1975)
The first solo album by Dublin-born fiddler Sean Keane, best known as a member of the Chieftains... Not to be confused with the singer, Sean Keane, a member of Galway's fabled Keane family whose career turned more towards contemporary folk music...
Sean Keane & Matt Molloy "Contentment Is Wealth" (Green Linnet, 1985)
Sean Keane "Jig It In Style" (Claddagh, 1990)
Sean Keane, Matt Molloy & Liam O' Flynn "The Fire Aflame" (Claddagh, 1993)
Paddy Keenan & Tommy O'Sullivan "The Long, Grazing Acre" (Compass, 2003)
A very lovely, very fine, mostly-trad album, with mild dips into contemporary folk songwriting and a warm, modern production style. Irish piper Paddy Keenan has a long and illustrious career in the tradlands -- well known for his work with the Bothy Band and numerous other projects -- and here he teams up with newcomer Tommy O'Sullivan, whose chunky guitar work adds both muscle and suppleness to the mix. What's perhaps most striking about this album is the textural depth to the production, the duo embraces what is best about new studio technology while making no concessions to bland "crossover" concepts. This music is captivating, inspiring and pure... recommended!
Alan & John Kelly "Fourmilehouse" (Compass, 2002)
One of those pleasant few albums that are able to get me past my persistent disinclination towards Celtic instrumental music. The Kelly brothers, Irish natives who have played about in various bands, have a deft, swinging lightness to their playing, and are obviously simpatico in that way that sometimes only siblings can be. The emphasis here is on melody and lilt, and I'm sure that other folks like myself, who often find jigs and reels to be repetitive and maddening, will find themselves drawn in by this highly listenable trad set.
Kempion "Kempion" (Broadside, 1977) (LP)
Keith Kendrick - see artist profile
Kentigern "Kentigern" (Topic, 1978) (LP)
This Scottish group grew out of the band Tinkler Maidgie, joined by former Battlefield Band-er John Gahagan and fiddler Jimmy McGuire... Kentigern stayed together through 1982, but only released this one album...
The Kerries "The Kerries" (Major Minor Records, 1967) (LP)
A short-lived trad band that featured singer Gibb Todd, who also recorded some solo stuff a few years later...
Kila "Tog E Go Bog E" (Green Linnet, 1999)
This band was hailed as the super-duper, super-fab super-future of Celtic music, but frankly, I find these "Afro-Celt" world beat crossover tunes to be a bit irritating... It's long on drive and momentum, short on melodic arc, and singer Ronan O'Snodaigh's raggamuffin/dancehall reggae-inflected vocal style (plus the actual tone of his voice) are also a bit grating. I just find the whole project too self-consciously clever and tedious, and even with Afro-Brazilian-tinged tunes like the title track (which means "take it easy" in Gaelic), I still feel like this is music I've heard elsewhere, even if they weren't singing in this particular language. Anyway, this didn't work for me. The folks who like Kila, though, seem to go totally koo-koo for them, so what do I know?? Feel free to explore it, but don't come running back to me saying that I didn't warn you.
Kila "Lemonade & Buns" (Green Linnet, 2000)
I'll concede that this disc is more relaxed and listenable than the last (where they really seemed to be trying too hard...) But it's also kind of cloying and fake-hippie goopy, as well... Inventive and groundbreaking, perhaps, but still not my cup of tea.
Kila "Luna Park" (Kila Records, 2003)
This album is arguably their most accomplished, or at least their smoothest, and -- thank goodness! -- Ronan O'Snodaigh has toned down his ragamuffin-reggae-by-way-of-Bulgaria vocals, at least on some of the tunes. Still, I find their approach to be pretty tiresome: innovation is fine, but I also like to enjoy what I'm listening to. This is just too dense, cluttered and tacky for me.
Pat Kilbride "Rock & More Roses" (Temple, 1995)
Pat Kilbride "Undocumented Dancing" (Green Linnet, 1992)
Pat Kilbride "Loose Cannon" (Green Linnet, 1995)
Pat Kilbride "Nightingale Lane" (Temple, 2002)
A beautiful album of traditionally-oriented modern folk songs, mostly written by veteran Celtic musician Pat Kilbride, an on-again/off-again member of Scotland's trad supergroup, the Battlefield Band. This is a sweet album, with plenty of first-rate cittern and guitar work. The only (very mild) missteps are covers of a couple of Gerry Rafferty and Nanci Griffith tunes, contemprary folk tunes that stand out a bit too much from the other, more trad sounding tunes. On the whole, though, there's nothing to complain about here... It's a very nice, very listenable record. Lovely!
Louis Killen - see artist profile
Paddy Killoran "Back In Town" (Shanachie, 1977) (LP)
Archival recordings of Irish fiddler Paddy Killoran, who hailed from Ballymote, County Sligo. This is pretty old-school, foundational stuff...
William Kimber "The Art Of William Kimber" (Topic, 1974) (LP)
David Kincaid "The Irish Volunteer" (Rykodisc, 1998)
David Kincaid "The Irish-American's Song" (Haunted Field Music, 1998)
Andrew King "The Bitter Harvest" (World Serpent, 1999)
Andrew King "The Amfortas Wound" (World Serpent, 2004)
Philip King & Peter Browne "Rince Greagach" (Gael Linn, 1981) (LP)
King's Galliard "Morning Dew" (Irish Folk, 1976)
A Dutch band from the 1970s that specialized in Celtic music, King's Galliard released several albums and held its own at various music festivals... I'm not sure, but this might be their first album...
King's Galliard "Rocky Road To Dublin" (Delta, 1991)
Kirkmount "The Robin: Traditional Music Of Nova Scotia And Cape Breton" (Dorian, 1997)
Fairly sugary fiddle-harp'n'cello classical-Celtic instrumentals from the sibling trio of Alex, Sam and Simeon Bigney, who at the time were riding high having won a talent contest on the Prairie Home Companion radio show. Didn't really wow me, but it's pretty enough, I suppose.
Kirkmount "Mittens For Christmas" (Dorian, 2001)
More substantive, more classically inclined, and somewhat milkier than their previous album... Again, it didn't do much for me, but for those enamored of, say, the Mark O'Connor/Edgar Meyer/Yo-Yo Ma folk-classical crossovers, an album might be a real delight.
John Kirkpatrick - see artist profile
Kornog "Kornog" (1983)
Kornog "Premiere: Music From Brittany" (Green Linnet, 1983)
A live album from one of the finest bands of the French Breton trad revival... This brisk, bold album captures them in fine fettle on a lively American tour...
Kornog "Ar Seizh Avel (On Seven Winds)" (Green Linnet, 1985)
Simply gorgeous. Kornog were one of the leading bands in the Celtic revival in France... Sure, several of the members are actually from Scotland, but who's keeping track? At any rate, this album completely defies the tradition of piercing shrillness in Celtic music, introducing a melodic grace to it's instrumental tracks while retaining a traditionalist edge. It also has several of the most gorgeous vocal performances I've ever heard in the genre, such as "Helen of Kirkconnell" and "The Shuttle Rins". If you've ever tried to get into Celtic music before, but felt trapped between shrill bagpipes and wimpy New Age arrangements or "River Dance" kitsch, then allow me to recommend this beautiful album to you as a more appropriate starting place. One of my all-time favorites.
Kornog "Kornog IV" (1987)
Kornog "Korong" (Green Linnet, 2000)
After more than a ten year lapse, this outstanding French (Breton) Celtic band is back, with an album that picks up exactly where the last one left off. I'm not normally that into Celtic instrumentals -- jigs, reels and airs -- but Kornog has always displayed a liveliness and melodic grace that set the band at the pinnacles of the Celtic music scene, with an interplay of fiddle and flute that is particularly dynamic and appealling. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the Kornog's sound, though, is the beautiful voice of Scottish native, Jamie McMenemy. McMenemy has lost none of the rich sonorousness which marked their early albums, or the dreamy, evocative breathiness that makes him one of the most captivating singers in the folk-trad scene today. Simply gorgeous. This is an album that's been a long time coming, and is highly recommended.
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