New Releases of the Week (11 June 2021)

Martin McGinley

New Releases of the Week (11 June 2021)

A round-up of recent releases including Martin McGinley, Belinda Quirke, Cherry Dragon, Kevin Volans and Matthew Halpin. To send us your music, please email [email protected]

Martin McGinley – Full Circle
Full Circle by Martin McGinley is a new release from Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí in the ‘Traditional Fiddle Music from Donegal’ series. McGinley was born in east Donegal in 1961, and, as Dermot McLaughlin writes in the notes, the fiddle culture of that part of the county has perhaps been overshadowed by the resurgence of interest in the music of the west and north of the region. McGinley’s album includes 30 tracks of fiddle-playing, with repertoire drawn from a rich range of Donegal sources, including his mother Kathleen McGinley and a tune written for her by Tommy Peoples. McGinley worked in journalism for many years, for newspapers such as the Derry Journal, and for the past five years has been managing the Donegal Music Education Partnership. He has also recently been awarded a Masters in Music with the Open University with a thesis on east Donegal fiddling. The booklet for Full Circle by Caoimhín MacAoidh is rich in information on the tunes and sources. Listen to extracts of McGinley’s vibrant, stylish playing on the Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí website, where the album is also available to purchase.

Belinda Quirke – The Black Hill
Named after the area in Meath where she lives, Belinda Quirke’s The Black Hill is an eight-track album of slowly unwinding songs with rich low vocals. Quirke collaborated with producer, arranger and composer Benedict Schlepper-Connolly on the album, which also features Cora Venus Lunny, Lisa Dowdall, Gerald Peregrine, Malachy Robinson, Cuan Ó Seireadáin, Garrett Sholdice and John Dermody. The album explores ‘undercurrents of current political and societal melancholy … immersed in the pastoral iconography of The Black Hill (Slán dubh)’. Quirke studied singing at the Cork School of Music while also studying at University College Cork (Music) and Crawford College of Art (Fine Art). During these years she performed in several guises at venues such as Sir Henry’s, The Lobby, Triskel, Connolly’s of Leap and Whelan’s. She is also Artistic Director of Solstice Arts Centre in Meath. Purchase the album on Bandcamp:

Click on the image below to listen.

Cherry Dragon – Starlight
‘Starlight’ is the new single from London-based Irish/Nigerian artist Cherry Dragon and follows her debut single ‘Altar’, which was used in the Apple TV series Dickinson. The new track was produced by Utters in London and it’s a song ‘written about carving out your own path to walk’. She writes: ‘I noticed so many people were struggling because they didn’t have the job or the relationship or the house they feel that they are “supposed to have”. It’s easy to fall for the pressure that society can project on to us but really it’s our lives and we only have the one. I decided I’m gonna live it how I want to.’ Visit

Kevin Volans – Lenguas de Fuego
Lenguas de Fuego is a new release from Louth Contemporary Music Society and follows Cliona Doris’ Cantares de la Frontera, Embers, and Linda Catlin Smith’s Meadow. Lenguas de Fuego by composer Kevin Volans, commissioned by the Society, was premiered recently as part of their online festival. It features an ensemble of two violins, viola, cello, flute and percussion, conducted by Andrew Synott. Reviewing the premiere for the Journal of Music, Brendan Finan wrote, ‘This is bracing music, often peaceful and still before exploding into showers of sparks. Later points give us a not-entirely-gentle rocking, vanishing into high fluttertonguing in the flute before it goes out like a candle.’ Purchase the album on Bandcamp:

Click on the image below to listen.

Matthew Halpin – Agreements
Cologne-based Irish saxophonist Matthew Halpin has recently released his debut album, Agreements. From Dublin, Halpin studied at Berklee College of Music. He was chosen to take part in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, a two-year music performance programme headed by pianist Danilo Perez, and graduated from Berklee in 2013 as one of two international presidential scholars of that year. The 11-track Agreements features Kit Downes on organ, Hanno Busch on guitar, Sean Carpio on drums and Sergio Martinez on percussion. ‘When I first put on Matthew’s record,’ writes pianist Christian Li in the notes, ‘I felt like a kid again – lying on the floor of the living room, dreading the moment when a song would end. Matthew and his band of musicians … embody present, past, and future. They expand and contract, maneuver past impossible hairpin turns, and interact with kaleidoscopic intricacy.’ Purchase the album on Bandcamp:

Click on the image below to listen.

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Published on 11 June 2021

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