CD Review: Shire Folk

Manannan’s Cloak
Wardfell Records

Barrule’s second release is another delightfully dextrous set of Manx-inspired Celtic music from trio Tomás Callister (fiddle, tenor banjo), Jamie Smith (piano accordion, vocals) and Adam Rhodes (bouzouki, mandolin) supported by several skilled

Book-ended by two vigorous sets of jigs and reels inspired by ‘bad-ass Celtic sea god and protector Manannan (whose pyrokinetic defence of the Isle of Man, when his cloak of mist fails, involves ships incurring his Wheel of Fire) and the Isle’s vast Laxey (water) Wheel, this is a finely balanced sequence of music. Songs (sung in English by Scot Paul McKenna) celebrate the centrality of herring fishing ‘our glitt’ring train’) and (sung in Gaelic Manx) tell of a retributive ‘Cruel Mistress’, the watery comeuppance of murderous lady luring ‘Illiam Boght’ (‘Poor William’), and a passionate political piece decrying the destructive impact of wasteful ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ on the loM’s community and culture. These are interspersed with graceful melodic interludes including a delightful arrangement of the traditional dance tune ‘William Taylor’ and an energetic tune set of polkas and slides ‘To Dingle With Love’.

Guests Manx native Gregory Joughin (vocals), Calum Stewart (uilleann pipes), Tad Sargent bodhrán), David Kilgallon (piano) and Dylan Fowler (lap steel, Weissenborn guitars) add complementary detail and textures to the trio’s tight interplay. Plentifully pleasing in its diverse dynamic movement, amply rich in atmosphere and the stirring swing and catch of its melody and song, one can easily sense and feel the landscape and spirited Celtic culture Manannan seeks to defend.

Kevin T. Ward