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BARRULE - Manannanís Cloak

BARRULE - Manannanís Cloak
Easy On The Records EOTR04

For many years I used to visit the Isle of Man every June (yes, the TT Races) and, while there and as a contrast to all the high octane racing, I used to try to seek out some local music. It was hard to find – plenty of Irish and Scots players, even some English, but I only met up with the real McCoy on a couple of occasions. So this CD intrigued me, and I wondered how it would tally with my 40-odd year ago memories.

The answer is that I can’t be sure, what with the fallibility of memory and my somewhat limited exposure to the music as it then existed. Of one thing I am sure – the high octane that I associated with the motorcycle racing has now transferred to the Manx music, with a vengeance! What is also in no doubt whatsoever is that Barrule (and the collaborators the three of them called in for this recording) are very skilled and sensitive musicians, with a respect for their tradition and a desire to see it progress. This determination extends to Manx song, with four local songs included, three of them in Manx. The augmented band produces a very full, rich sound that drives along with an infectious beat. The tempo tends to increase as they go along and the listener is carried with it, feet and fingertips tapping almost uncontrollably until you’re released at the end of the track.

Listening more closely allows one to detect influences from Scots, Irish and Welsh roots (the latter possibly due to Barrule’s accordionist, the redoubtable Jamie Smith of Mabon) and even a hint of Breton. Tomas Callister and Adam Rhodes, the other full time members of the line-up, are also excellent, while the guest musicians and singers have no problem holding their heads up in any company. Wherever the inspiration came from, there’s pots of it and the result is a brilliant, successful fusion of tradition and development allied to excellent musicianship that will appeal to a very broad audience. I shall try to catch them live ASAP – I’ll bet their concerts are stunning.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.