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joy, this latest offering is especially super- charged, exuberant and exciting.


Joining Mary and fiddler Eilidh Shaw are Sarah McFadyen (fiddle, five-string banjo, guitar) – Orcadian, and veteran of the late- ’90s Edinburgh session scene – and Tia Files (guitar, percussion and sometimes third fid- dle!) – from Oban, and with CV including co- founding the band Bodega. What a mighty sound they make for a four-piece! It’s both bewitching and scary, for there’s also a sinis- ter alchemy at work between the four very different (and self-confessedly off-kilter!) musical personalities – and a keen sense of delicious mischief to boot.


Mari Kalkun


MARI KALKUN Ilmamötsan Vöru Maa


It’s a pleasure to see and artist grow and take beautiful chances. After her last album with a band, Kalkun withdraws to record at home, playing and singing almost everything herself (just a few guests here and there). The result is a gorgeously intimate record, as if we’ve all been let into her thoughts. It’s never empty, there are small atmospheres in the back- ground, like the ebow on With Tongue And Heart, the overlapping waves of her voice on The Forest Brother Game, while the opening of City Lament has the edge of overheard desperation before the long, heartfelt tones emerge, alone and unadorned. There’s an overwhelming sense of fragile beauty throughout, a delicate web that dances on a loving edge. Accordeonist Tuulikki Bartosik fills out Thaw so it almost feels like a hymn to the end of winter.


There’s nothing rushed about the music here. It unfolds gently, enfolding the listener, caressing and inviting and taking flight. This is supremely honest music, joyful, dark, aching and smiling, but there are no masks – this is always her, and that’s a daring thing to do, especially as it all ends on the hopeful, summery mood of Fly Linda! complete with a child’s voice (the Linda of the title) and a brass band. Albums like this by an artist reaching the height of her powers don’t come along every day, especially when the music sounds as natural as breathing When they do, what else can you do but grab them?


marikalkun.com Chris Nickson


MISHAPED PEARLS Shivelight MISSHAP04


Four years have passed since this magazine published fRoots columnist Tim Chipping’s Four For ’14 feature about emerging bands on the fringes of the established folk scene and stuck one of them – a group called Stick In The Wheel – on the cover (fR 376). Another of those featured groups, Lynched, later changed their name to Lankum and became the official Best Band In The World, while a bunch of groovy vinyl releases by The Lords Of Thyme has since kept them firmly on our radar. It was, however, the extraordinary seven-piece folk/classical/world/nobody- knowswhat London collective called


Mishaped Pearls – and their enchanting Thamesis album, who initiated the whole brouhaha in the first place. From them we’ve heard nary a peep. Until now.


Shivelight (a word coined by Gerard Manley Hopkins) opens with a typically atypi- cal version of the traditional Cuckoo before Queen May arrives as a euphoric ear worm in a dreamscape of layered strings and vocal harmonies. Singer Manuela Schutte exercises her operatic technique range on Jesus’ Crooked Shadow – a song that addresses Mid- dle Eastern conflict. Songwriter Ged Flood’s struggles get personal on Jonny’s War (about living with depression) and Three Cries (“One cry for freedom, one for human rights…”) about his late mother’s incarceration in Mountjoy Prison for circulating ‘Free Ireland’ leaflets in Dublin’s O’Connell Street. The arrangement cleverly mutates into a few cho- ruses of The Auld Triangle – which was first performed publicly as a part of Brendan Behan’s play The Quare Fellow, set in the same location.


Environmentalism is a recurring theme,


with Flood’s heightened sense of wonder at the natural world expressed over Nature Walking’s insistently bluesy saz ba˘glama, while Fishes is enhanced by Laurel S Pardue’s soaring violin. Closer Nursery Rhyme No 9 is a short, simple song (originally composed for a ukulele class of three- to five-year-olds) which concludes with Schitte musing “I can see the Earth from outer space / wonder what’ll hap- pen to the human race?” Both the title and the hypnotic pulse of When Summers Stood Still mark it (and the entire album) as the soundtrack of Summer. One for ‘18.


mishapedpearls.org Steve Hunt


THE POOZIES Punch Poozies SCHMOOZCD003


The latest (re)incarnation of the trailblazing all-female outfit may be far removed from its original lineup in terms of personnel (only electro-harp legend Mary Macmaster remains), but they still sure mean business! The opening (title) salvo of their new album is a sensational onslaught of stomp, with fid- dles and guitar driving a tricky time-signature that’s guaranteed to get feet out onto the floor in anticipation if not in actuality. Although the Poozie ethos has always cele- brated diversity, originality, devilment and


The mix-and-match of styles continues apace, as they bring us four storming instru- mental sets blending traditional with self- penned and classic contemporary tunes. There’s a kind of heavy-Hot-Club funky swing to the Knees Of Fire set, while Plecthumb builds a manic feel to tunes either side of the Bulgarian dance Kopanista. The diverse selec- tion of songs provides a great showcase for the four individual singers, whose vocal ver- satility can seem almost incidental to their brilliance as musicians, and when they har- monise so gorgeously – as on the closing track, a fabulous, delicate cover of Deanie Cox’s Easily Led – you can just feel your heart melt away.


Elsewhere Mary delivers a trademark Gaelic traditional song (Ailein Ailein), which has some delirious eastern-European over- tones, while Sarah contributes her own puck- ishly comic Soaking In The Bathtub; there’s a nicely twangsome take on Anaïs Mitchell’s Wedding Song too. Only the catchy pop mode of Jim Sutherland’s portrait of Isabel seems to lower the voltage a tad (but that’s probably just the company she keeps!).


Musical arrangements are confident, lay- ered and intricate, yet individual strands (and voices) remain superbly clear and bold in Inge Thomson’s skilful production, so that the disc packs the full weight of its title. Punch can surely be counted the Poozies’ most dynamic album to date.


poozies.co.uk David Kidman


THE MYSTERY OF THE BULGARIAN VOICES feat. LISA GERRARD BooChiMish Prophecy PRO 228


Last issue I reviewed a double CD by The Bul- garian Voices Angelite with collaborators from other musical worlds, and mentioned that they are one of the two big Bulgarian female choirs that tour, as a result of a split following legal conflict with Marcel Cellier, who released the Le Mystère Des Voix Bul- gares recordings.


The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices are the one that continues to be able to use the name, albeit here in its English form. Actually on this album there are two different line-ups of the choir, both conducted by Prof Dora Hristova, and – given the time since those first recordings – neither featuring many, if any, members of the original Mystère choir.


Clear?


The songs on BooCheeMish, while they very much, embody traditional melodic and vocal styles, have predominantly traditional lyrics, and incorporate substantial borrowings from traditional melodies (the latter not overtly credited in the notes), are largely the compositional, arranging and producing work of Bulgarian film and theatre composer Petar Dundakov. He’s brought in Australian Lisa Gerrard, of Dead Can Dance (she scored Gladiator and other films, often drawing on


Photo: Hannariin Lamp


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