Wednesday, March 25, 2009

malinky: flower & iron

Flower & Iron

An old story, a new melody, a change of wording here and there to make the tale of a lovers’ conversation clear in the twenty first century -- those all set the scene in Pad the Road wi’ Me, the opening track on the Malinky’s latest album, Flower & Iron. It’s a fair representation of what they do as a group, as well --listen well to older songs, hear the melody and words clearly, and sing and play them in ways that stay completely true to the Celtic traditions from which they spring while being as fresh and conversational as a conversation with friends over the morning paper. The Scotland based group has been at this, with some line up changes, for ten years now, and this latest release finds them bidding fair for even better things as they start out on their second decade. Steve Byrne and Fiona Hunter hold the conversation in Pad the Road wi’ Me, and in addition to singing each brings creative instrumental skills to the group as well. Hunter is a cellist, and Byrne, one of the founding members, plays guitar, bouzouki, and several other instruments. Mark Dunlop, also a founder of the band, plays bodhran, whistles, and flute, and also sings, as do the the two newer members of the group, Mike Vass who plays fiddle and guitar, and Dave Wood who plays guitar and bouzouki.

That sounds like a lot of strings, you might think, and that’s indeed so -- the creative interweaving of all that is part of Malinky’s distinctive sound. Their song selection and arrangement here is creative, edgy, and thought provoking, too, all while in service to the tradition. There’s a lively instrumental set called Cows and Cottongrass, and a striking anti war song told from the view of a soldier’s children, called When Margaret was Eleven. Irish songwriter Liam Weldon is the source for Dark Horse on the Wind, which considers the human cost of politics from another perspective. It’s not all politics by any means, though, it’s just politics as a part of lives lived out. Those songs stand among twelve tracks next to that opener, where a man tries to persuade a reluctant woman to join her life with his. They all make a path to the closing cut, a gentle and very Scottish sounding song called The Road to Drumleman, which is a poem by Willie Mitchell set to to music by Tony Cuffe. The project was recorded by Jamie and Julia MacLean, and their dad, Dougie, writer of Caledonia among other songs, adds digeridoo to one track.

you may also want to see
Tammerlin: No Small Thing
Songs of Homecoming, to Scotland and other places

Matt & Shannon Heaton: Fine Winter's Night concert

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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