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ANDAR - Storms

ANDAR - Storms
Appel Rekords  APR1339

Andar appears to be a gathering of musicians from Ireland, Scotland, Belgium and Holland. That brand name has released one previous album (Whenever) which somehow escaped my attention; it would seem that the three musicians responsible, Mayo-born accordionist David Munnelly, Scottish singer Helen Flaherty (Shantalla) and Belgium’s guitar and cittern player Philip Masure, have been playing together on and off for over a decade, but only since 2011 have they teamed up with Dutch fiddle/mandolin/whistle player Siard De Jong and Belgian double bassist Fons Vanhamel.

The resultant five-piece has now released Storms, which from its artwork might be taken as a loosely maritime-themed collection of songs and tunes. But that’s deceptive, for even though it starts off that way with The Storms Are On The Ocean, Kate Rusby’s I Courted A Sailor and Ewan MacColl’s Fisherman’s Wife, the sea is then left behind with covers of songs by Dougie MacLean, Robbie Burns and Karine Polwart, and two traditionals (Bonny Labouring Boy and Billy Taylor). All of which are given a pleasing pan-Celtic garb, with attractive delivery and quietly accomplished playing, with David’s colourful box the dominant timbre in the mix.

Helen takes the vocal for all but one of the songs (The Storms, where the duty falls to Philip); hers is an appealing, if soft-edged voice that sounds well on these items. Instrumentally too, the performances lack nothing in the way of commitment, and the end result is perfectly pleasing, although I detect a slight air of understatement to the proceedings generally, and it’s only on tracks such as the reel-set (track 9) that the ensemble work really seems to catch fire. Maybe that sounds a touch unkind, for Storms will still satisfy much if you’re looking for a selection of less than orthodox material well sung and played.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.