Traditional Irish Music
In late 2015 we covered a new folk band that had just formed in Galway called The Living Stream. What started out as a rather simple project to record some demo tracks in a Galway studio, developed into something much more involved. Brian Kelly was the driving force behind the project and explained that “the plan was to record a handful of tunes with a group of traditional Irish session musicians. As people turned up and plugged in, one by one, a spark was lit. Simple ideas quickly became full songs, and that handful of tunes began to feel and sound like an album that had to be made.”
One year on and The Living Stream launched their debut album at The Workman's Club Dublin. The outcome according to Brian is “an album that oozes modern Ireland”. Their experimental approach to the recording process which took place outside any commercial pressures, gave them a creative freedom that might not otherwise have existed. The result according to Brian is a “fresh new sound in an old traditional style. It is the perfect platform for a thoughtful and measured critique of Ireland today.”
“With rolling rhythms come protest songs, love songs, nostalgic songs and deeply touching personal songs - a soundtrack to modern Ireland. The whole album is an intricate and forceful piece of work. It is due for release in November.”
The first single was called 'Grand Canal Dock' and Brian explained some of the background to it: "We wanted to try and capture the overall tone that pervaded the country post-crash - the sense of uneasiness and frustration that was felt by so many. We didn't want it to come across as angry and finger pointy. Grand Canal Dock, like the album as a whole, has a calmness to it that is far better suited to getting a point across. And it's sounds a lot better too!”
The material incorporates some existing melodies which Brian explains: “The first track on the album is called Rebel Charm - it was the first song I wrote in the traditional style. It is to the tune of 'The Peeler and the Goat', which is a satirical song, written around the start of the last century, about a Police man arresting a goat for obstructing the road. (It was actually treasonous to sing it!). I first came across the melody in 'The Recruiting Sergeant's Song' by Dominic Began. I loved the melody, and the tone. A kind relaxed non-compliance with authority. I felt like I needed to update it, and make it relevant for Irish people today. It went on to inspire the whole album.
The sixth track on the album is called 'Life in the Eighties'. It is to the tune of 'Finnegans' Wake'. I'll learnt Finnegans' Wake a few years back and in the process of learning it, got into playing it at a much slower tempo. The chords are wonderful and the melody is so strong that it can be drawn out to the point where it becomes something else - that’s where I heard the potential for another song. Slowing it down gave the song the weight it needed to talk about one of the biggest issues affecting Irish people throughout time - emigration! So while it's a completely different song - the original sentiment of light hearted sadness found in Finnegans Wake is there still in Life in the Eighties.
The ninth track on the album was inspired by a song from the Gloamings first album called 'Hunting the Squirrel' which is itself a slowed down version of the original. I came across the track on a wonderful (one of many) Miles O'Reilly documentary from his website Arbutus Yarns.
These three tracks were among the first to be written and massively inspired the rest of the album.”
The album is also available as a free download for broadcasters that are part of our Download Centre.
Brian Kelly - vocals, guitar, percussion
Jeremy Jenkinson - whistle
Niall McQuaid - bodhrán
Geoff Ward - banjo, mandoline
Niall Connaire - fiddle
Barry walls - guitar
Donal Finn - percussion
Rioghnach Dunne Ward - cello
Produced - Brian Kelly
Recorded at Greenfields Studio and Sprig Studio, Galway. Oslo House Studio, London.
Mastered by Wav Mastering, limerick, Ireland.
Vinyl centre label design by Poppy Becke
Cover design by Poppy Becke
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