CD Review – Songlines Magazine

Wardfell Records (55 mins)

Barrule take their name from the second highest peak in the Isle of Man – home to the Celtic god Manannan Mac
Lir, who is summoned in the second track of Tomás Callister, Adam Rhodes and Jamie Smith’s debut album. This follows ‘Mylecharaine’s March’, the tune that became the Manx national anthem. Barrule is more than a group; it’s an assertion of cultural identity, an insistence that attention be paid to the music of that most neglected of Celtic nations.

The Isle of Man’s music deserves this: there are fine tunes, such as Arrane y Chlean, a lovely cradle song; the stonking ‘Nelson’s Tonic’ by flute master Peddyr Cubberley, and the melancholic ‘O My Graih’. All are delivered with precision on fiddle, accordion and bouzouki.

The singing, sadly, isn’t so strong, but ‘Ny Kirree fo Niaghtey’ (The Sheep Under the Snow) is an 18th century ballad that exemplifies the relevance of traditional song. In March this year the hill farmers of Man endured the predicament the song describes and Barrule raised £6,000 through track downloads for the island’s Agricultural Benevolent Trust.

Barrule are engaging culturally and linguistically; Barrule is engaging musically.

Julian May