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NA-MARA - Navajos & Pirates

NA-MARA - Navajos & Pirates
Private Label RBRP015

The third album release from duo Rob Garcia (guitar, mandolin, octave mandola, backing vocals) and Paul McNamara (vocals, guitars), supported by Dan Garcia (bodhrán, percussion), presents their own compositions and arrangements of traditional songs and music from France and Northern Spain.

Self-spun songs tell of Cologne’s group of Inter-War Edelweiss Pirates’ (The Navajos) resistance to Nazism, Bilbao’s evacuation of Basque children (Los Niños) in 1937, the penurious plight of egregious Bristolian pirate Captain John Avery, and the malign servitude of modern day agricultural gangmastery in England. Four translations of French songs (derived from La Chavannée, La Bergère, Gabriel Yacoub and Malicorne, especially, and their own musicological exploration) deal with lost love and several slices of female tragedy involving infanticide (the moving melancholia of The Girl Who Lived In The Woods) and nautical kidnap. The ten instrumental pieces, arranged in four tune sets, include Galician and Asturian bagpipe dance tunes arranged for octave mandola, a slow air and dance form (Ton-bale) from Brittany, and their own self-styled Schottische and Muiñeira pieces.

Thoughtfully and intelligently crafted, lyrically and musically, with careful consideration of pacing and spacing, the songs give due primacy to their folk stories with a certainty of authenticity and integrity, feeling and atmosphere, as is evident in their live performance too. Deft and dextrous in their playing, although perfectly clear and precise, the mix is a little lacking in low end sonority; more bass frequencies would add greater fullness and warmth to the benefit of their musical soundscape.

Kevin T. Ward

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