New Releases: Traditional/Folk Music (November 2018)

Lisa O’Neill

New Releases: Traditional/Folk Music (November 2018)

A round-up of new and recent traditional/folk music releases, including Lisa O'Neill, Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn, Music of Mayo, Karan Casey, and Kathleen Loughnane.

Each week The Journal of Music compiles news on new and recent releases in contemporary, classical, jazz, traditional, folk, indie and more. Please send details of all releases to newreleases [at]

Heard a Long Gone Song
Lisa O’Neill
River Lea Records
26 October 2018

Released on Rough Trade’s new folk imprint, Lisa O’Neill’s Heard a Long Gone Song will remind some of the legendary Margaret Barry’s singing, but there’s more to O’Neill than that. This is an absorbing album, her voice uncompromising and unadorned, her subject matter the harsh edges of life experience. ‘Violet Gibson’, the story of the Irishwoman who tried to assassinate Mussolini in 1926, leaps out, with the line ‘People don’t really change I suppose, they just go a little bad when they go.’ So too does the vulnerable and melodic ‘Blackbird’. Concertina player Cormac Begley appears on ‘Along the North Strand.’ O’Neill was nominated for an RTÉ folk award this year before this album was released. Heard a Long Gone Song could well resurface for next year.

Traditional Irish Music on Fiddle and Bouzouki – Volume II
Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn
15 October 2018

In 1977, Frankie Gavin released one of the great fiddle albums with Alec Finn on bouzouki. 39 years later, the pair have issued their second duet together with Brian Bourke on bodhrán. How has the great fiddle-player’s playing changed in the almost four decades since? It is undoubtedly more relaxed, more playful, and often pitched lower, playing tunes on the lower D and G strings, giving it a more introspective feel. Yet his command over the instrument is just as breathtaking. Rare, too, to have completely solo tracks and a slow air (‘My Lagan Love’). It’s a pleasure to hear more paired-down playing from Gavin. ‘The Whistling Postman’ is a highlight. Finn on bouzouki, as ever, is a wave of subtle sound behind the fiddle. 

Click on the image below to listen.

Music of Mayo / Ceol Mhaigh Eo
Various Artists

This double-CD is the legacy of a 2017 residency by musician Emer Mayock at the Linehall Arts Centre in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Mayock recorded a range of local musicians at the Centre, and also undertook field recordings in various locations in the county. Music of Mayo/Ceol Mhaigh Eo includes 34 tracks with artists such as accordionists Joe Carey and Fiachna Ó Mongáin, fiddle-players Julie Langan and John Hoban, harpers Gráinne Hambly and Holly Geraghty, singers Astrid and Síle Ní Mhongáin, and more. A multi-dimensional insight into the music tradition in Mayo.

Listen below to accordionist Joe Carey.

Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale
Karan Casey
Vertical Records
19 October 2018

Karan Casey’s eighth solo album is produced by Donald Shaw of Capercaillie and features 10 songs, much of them contemporary or newly composed rather than traditional. Casey’s own songs, ‘Down in the Glen’ and ‘You Are the Flower’ (a duet with Karen Matheson, written with Seán Óg Graham from Beoga) are some of the highlights. There’s real variety across the album, from Bob Dylan’s ‘Hollis Brown’ to Mick Flannery’s ‘In the Gutter’. A sense of social justice is the key theme throughout.

Patrick O’Neill’s Manuscripts: A Selection for Irish Harp from the Music Manuscripts of Patrick O’Neill (1765–1832)
Kathleen Loughnane

Not a new release but recently brought to our attention, harper Kathleen Loughnane’s Patrick O’Neill’s Manuscripts is a book and CD with 11 new arrangements from these 18th and 19th century manuscripts. O’Neill (1765–1832) from Owning in South Kilkenny was a fiddle player, uilleann piper, poet and collector of music. The earliest date in the manuscripts appears to be 1787, which precedes Bunting’s Belfast Harp Festival collection by 15 years. O’Neill’s work contains music from Ireland, England, Scotland and continental Europe. Loughnane is joined by her daughter Caitriona Cannon on harp and son Cormac Cannon on uilleann pipes. Among the highlights are the jigs ‘Inchagoill’ and ‘Captain Whyche’, ‘Lady Townsfolk’s Minuet’ and ‘Queen of Sheba’s March’.

Please send details of all releases to newreleases [at]

Published on 8 November 2018

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