Traditional Irish Music
Press Release : Two years ago, exciting new trio Barrule were men on a mission - to bring Manx music to the wider world. Their refreshingly different, self-titled debut album won instant acclaim and resonated through the Celtic music world, culminating in a Best Debut win at the 2014 Spiral Awards run by popular music website Spiral Earth.
Named after the famous Manx summit, where legend says the ancient Celtic God Manannan Mac Lir stalked his mighty fortress, Barrule fuses three distinct musical forces - Mabon frontman and accordion wizard Jamie Smith, gifted young fiddler Tomás Callister and bouzouki master Adam Rhodes. Together this compact but versatile acoustic unit pull off a powerful and wholly distinctive sound putting the small island in the Irish Sea firmly on the map.
Since the band’s formation, Barrule’s “three legs” have hit the ground running with major festival appearances including Celtic Connections, WOMAD, Sidmouth, Festival Interceltique de Lorient and Melbourne’s National Celtic Festival, to name just a few.
Now they return with the arresting, atmospheric and mysterious Manannan’s Cloak released on May 11. This is a rich collection of traditional and contemporary Manx material from rousing marches, jigs and reels, to sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in both English and the Manx Gaelic language and executed with class musicianship from Smith and his cohorts.
Says Jamie: “With this new material we've explored the links between some of the basic Manx melodies and the music of our Celtic cousins either side of us across the Irish Sea, whilst retaining the inherent Manxness of the music. These songs and tunes reflect the unique culture of the island, steeped in the history and mythology of its Celtic and Viking ancestry and self-governed for over a thousand years. They embrace a language and music so nearly lost and so important to nurture.”
With bold but sensitive arrangements, Barrule's music is a breath of fresh air elevating the Isle of Man’s largely untapped native music to a new level of performance and musicianship.
Produced by Andy Seward (Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson), the album was recorded in the historic St Bridget’s Chapel at The Nunnery, Douglas (one of the island’s oldest chapels).
The album’s title refers to Celtic sea god Manannan, protector of the Isle of Man. Legend has it that if he spies invaders approaching he draws a cloak of mist around the island. Should any ships reach the shore he plays his trump card - transforming into a wheel of fire and hurtling down South Barrule mountain to send them packing!
Modern day Manannans, protecting the language and culture of their island, Barrule’s members have close ties with the island with both Tom and Adam having grown up there. Says Jamie: “I’ve been involved in the Manx music scene for over a decade now, ever since I met my wife Gráinne, who is Manx. Since moving here with my family last year my love of the place and its culture has continued to grow.
“The Isle of Man has an extremely rich and diverse musical heritage, yet when compared to its Celtic cousins, Manx music is often not given the recognition it deserves. With the release of our second album we continue in our mission to put Manx music in front of as many people as possible, both on the island and, most especially, off it.”
The 10-track album unleashes a powerful sound with the trio augmented by the talents of former Mabon member Calum Stewart (left) on uilleann pipes, Scotland’s Paul McKenna and Manx Gaelic singer Gregory Joughin on lead vocals, Tad Sargent on bodhran, David Kilgallon on piano and Dylan Fowler on lap steel.
The album opens with a breathless set of four lively traditional jigs and reels and a contemporary tune by Manx flute legend Peddyr Cubberley, together known as The Wheel of Fire, in praise of the mighty Manannan.
Paul McKenna, of Scotland’s Paul McKenna Band, takes lead vocal on The King of the Sea telling of the hunt of the herring shoal - an important part of Manx life - before the album moves into the brooding, filmic, tour de force Kinnoull, also penned by Cubberley and inspired by Kinnoull Hill - a dramatic clifftop escarpment high about the River Tay in Perth, Scotland.
Peel-based Greg Joughin, who also appeared on Barrule’s debut album, steps up to the plate with his distinctive vocal for the Manx Gaelic Yn Ven-Ainshter Dewil (The Cruel Mistress) - a cautionary song of a woman scorned. Barrule adopt a new twist to William Taylor’s old tune Illiam Y Thalhear - a mournful and fluctuating tempo tune usually played to accompany a traditional Manx dance of the same name.
Fir-Hammah Yioogh, again sung by Joughin, is an adaptation of a scathing song by David Speers (words by Chris Sheard) about HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) - the incomers drawn to the islands, buying land and houses. A story replicated on many islands, the insistent refrain drives the unsettling message home.
An instrumental arrangement of the much-loved Manx song Graih Foalsey (False Love) is followed by a rambunctious set of polkas and slides called To Dingle With Love. While touring Ireland last November, Smith, Callister and Rhodes spent a memorable weekend in Dingle where they put together this upbeat set, performed for the first time at Tommy Sullivan’s pub, The Courthouse.
Illiam Boght (Poor William), this time with Jamie Smith on lead vocal, tells the story of revenge exacted on a murderous Casanova before the closing set The Laxey Reels, named after the Isle of Man’s famous Laxey Wheel (the largest working waterwheel in the world).
This fuses five lively tunes from Smith and Callister including Alex Salmond’s and the interestingly titled Daub Grease Upon the Rump of a Fat Pig - a flamboyant finale on a compelling album that has “Made in the Isle of Man” running firmly through it.
Manannan’s Cloak has been released on the Easy on the Records label and distributed by Proper Music Distribution.
The album will be showcased at gigs in the Channel Islands, Orkney and Sark folk festivals, Priddy Folk Festival and Brittany’s Festival Interceltique de Lorient. In May Barrule will be the first Manx band to appear at La Grande Rencontre festival in Canada.
Barrule are to publish a tune and song book alongside the album release with notation of all their music to date.
BARRULE 2015 GIGS
June 5-6: Geiteberg Folk Festival Norway
July 5: Sark Folk Festival
July 11: Priddy Folk Festival Somerset
August 8-16: Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, France
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