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 am always looking for more good music to explore, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This is the first page covering the letter "L"
Robin Laing "The Water Of Life" (Greentrax, 2003)
This set of pepped-up trad tunes (with modern instruments added atop the old lyrics) is a little slick for my tastes, though the further into the album I got, the more accessible it became... An interesting, unusual modernization of the old Scottish folk sound, with arrangements that sound at times like late-'60s Dylan records, on other tracks a bit like Dougie Maclean.. By the way, all the songs are sung in honor of whiskey... Whiskey, dear whiskey. Not only that, but this is Laing's second album on the same theme... I bet he's fun to drink with.
Grey Larsen & Paddy League "Dark Of The Moon" (Sleepy Creek Music, 2003)
American-born Grey Larsen has written the book on Irish piping and tin whistle playing... literally. This fine all-instrumental album is a companion to Larsen's new instructional/historical tome, Essential Guide To Irish Flute And Tin Whistle, which may be one of the definitive works on the subject. By itself, however, the album is quite lovely and impressive, a beautiful set of flute and tin whistle tunes, with a grace and melodic depth to match other recent masterpieces such as Joannie Madden's solo work... A lovely and very listenable set... Highly recommended!
Grey Larsen & Cindy Kallet "Cross The Water" (Sleepy Creek, 2007)
A lovely Celtic-folk album from American fiddler/flautist Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet, an endearing folksinger whose earnest, simple style has made her a favorite of mine since the late 1980s... Larsen provides the perfect musical backdrop throughout, at times in support of Kallet's sweet songs, as well as on several beautiful instrumental numbers. Likewise, Kallet bends herself into the contours of Celtic and British folk, and she has one of those voices that fits the style well -- she can sing with honey and lemon in her voice, or go low and get a little rumbling growl that adds to the air of authenticity and antiquity. The duo is in perfect synch, each adding to and building from the other's strengths; in addition to fine vocals, Kallet plays some gentle, Renbourne-esque guitar and pumps the harmonium on a tune or two. Kallet provides a half-dozen of her own original songs, which tend to draw on the contemporary folk tradition, earnest-hopeful optimism with a trace of spiritualism and a dash of politics in the mix. I'm drawn to this music for the trad elements, but the message of optimism is welcome as well. A fine record -- definitely worth checking out! (Available through their website: www.greylarsen.com )
Lazik "Far Fetched" (Self-released, 2011)
A pan-European acoustic folk band based in Cork, Ireland, with a strong interest in Balkan traditional music. Members come from Belgium, France, Germany Ireland, and the Netherlands but band together in the tight, twisting grooves of Eastern European folk music.
Life And Times "Strawplait And Bonelace" (Fellside, 1985) (LP)
Lindisfarne - see artist profile
Lintie "Celtic And Contemporary Vocal Harmonies" (Self-Released, 2000)
A fine set of a capella vocals sung by this unassuming California-based duet. Kim Hughes and Crista Burch are both devotees of Scottish traditional song, and they've picked a fine selsection here, as well as a few more modern folk songs, such as Eric Bogle's widely recorded pacifist anthem, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," and Adam McNaughton's "Farewell To The Gold," previously heard on Nic Jones's Penguin Eggs album; nice version of "The Widow And The Devil," too! Nice voices and a real feel for the material... if you like Christine Primrose, June Tabor, Shirley Collins or Niamh Parsons, this album is certainly recommended!
The Love Hall Tryst "Songs Of Misfortune" (Appleseed, 2005)
An intriguing a capella collaboration between English pop-folk troubadour John Wesley Harding and alt-country chanteuses Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor (with Brian Lohmann rounding out the quartet, in the bass register), singing adaptations of old English traditional tunes that were featured -- get this -- in a novel written by Harding, under his given name, Wesley Stace. The results are pretty good, although not as arresting Harding's earlier tribute to folkie Nic Jones, Trad. Arr. Jones. (Note: if you like these kinds of old-world vocal songs, you might also want to check out albums by groups such as Shirley Collins, Young Tradition, The Watersons, and my particular favorites, the little-known Magpie Lane and the duo of Keith Kendrick & Lynne Heraud. All lovely stuff -- and this is a good jumping-off point to discover more!)
Trevor Lucas "Overlander" (Reality, 1966)
Cheerful Australian folk tunes, focussing on tramping about, shearing sheep and sailing away to live in a new, young land. Guitarist Lucas, perhaps best known for his work inside and outside the Fairport Convention alongside his wife, the late Sandy Denny, frequently dipped into his native Aussie folklore, as on this fine, understated album. Perhaps also of interest would be the similarly-slanted work of Antipodean poet Martyn Wyndham-Read. This album, recorded well before his folk-rock heyday with bands such as Eclection and Fotheringay, is certainly not for everyone, but might prove good for hoisting a pint or two, for those in the right frame of mind! (For more about Lucas, check out this fan site.)
Lunasa "Lunasa" (Compass, 1997)
An all-instrumental album featuring some of the new up-and-comers in Ireland's trad scene, including members of Sharon Shannon's band, and the Waterboys. Lunasa shed most of the severity of old-style jigs-and-reels, mixing in a sly melodic bounce without sacrificing their traditional cred. No synthesizers or sampling here, just a creative new approach to the classic Celtic style. This is their debut album (reissued in 2002 with some extra material), with live performances that reveal them as canny modernists, smoothing out the tinny blare of the jigs-and-reel sound, while avoiding the saccharine tendencies of many Celtic fusion bands. If, like myself, you're normally not that big on Celtic instrumentals, this might be an album you'd want to check out.
Lunasa "Otherworld" (Green Linnet, 1999)
Another nice instrumental album, this time with perhaps a bit more production gloss and a troublesome electric bass riff here and there... But overall, pretty nice!
Lunasa "The Merry Sisters Of Fate" (Green Linnet, 2001)
Another lovely all-instrumental album by these winsome Irish virtuosi. The piping, in particular, has a fluidity and expessiveness that's nice to hear... Notable for its propulsive (and deceptive) simplicity and catchy melodies... Recommended!
Lunasa "Redwood" (Green Linnet, 2003)
Yet another fine set of lighthearted Irish instrumentals by this skilled ensemble. Jigs and reels shorn of the stylistic severity that most Celtic players have held as a mark of authenticity, yet also thankfully free of goopy modern production. No synthesizers or misplaced electric instruments, just solid musicianship and a very listenable selection.
Lunasa "The Kinnitty Sessions" (Compass, 2004)
A wickedly dazzling live performance, recorded without overdubs or interruption in the halls of Kinnitty Castle, County Offally, Ireland. Not only does the old place have great acoustics -- these fellas have got major chops. Another great album.
Lunasa "Se" (Compass, 2006)
Lunasa "La Nua" (Lunasa, 2010)
More Celtic/Brit Folk Albums -- Letter "M"
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