Monday, August 24, 2015

German trad CD has Kilcullen background

A new album by the Germany-based Euro-trad group 'Fleadh' has all its songs written by Paul Durney, who first performed as a child in his native Kilcullen in the 1970s, writes Brian Byrne.

The latest album, the band's third, is called 'The Peacock's Feather' and its 13 tracks are a mixture of strong instrumentals and seven vocal renditions of Paul's material.

Going under the performing name of Saoirse Mhór, Paul lives in Germany and travels across Europe as a full-time musician, busking and taking part in music festivals.

He joined the band 'Fleadh', a multi-nationality group that specialises in modern variations of 'trad' music from across Europe in 2007, fronting the lineup with founder Frank Weber (pipes), Frank Dürschner (banjo, mando), Tommy Gorny (guitar), and Marcus Eichenlaub (fiddle).

Fleadh have produced two previous studio albums and have won awards in both Germany and in Ireland for their mix of songs and traditional Irish music. Their last CD, 'The Cleggan Bay Disaster', earned them Best Folk Album & Best Folk Song 2013 at the German Pop & Rock Awards.

'The Peacock's Feather' is a highly professional production in every way, including the CD folder which is graphically top class. Even for somebody whose main musical interest isn't trad of any particular kind, this pan-European confection is a really enjoyable set of material.

Saoirse Mhór's vocals and song-writing are strong, as was made very evident locally when the band played in Kilcullen and Newbridge in January of last year, in a tour of 'The Cleggan Bay Disaster'. His style has echoes of other Kildare balladeer greats, notably Luka Bloom, but is distinctly his own.

His songs are very much storytelling in the best tradition of Irish and American travelling folk singer-songwriters. On 'Peacock's Feather' his themes are dark — bullying, life struggle, domestic abuse, depression are a few — but his always thoughtful delivery makes them impossible to skip. There are potentially award winning performances here by all, and I can see this CD doing even better than the previous album. It's international, and should get international recognition.

"The band have developed over the last couple of years," Saoirse says. "Taking into account the various prizes we've obtained from our last two albums we expect to gather some more in December of this year. We are also working with Petr Pandula of Magnetic Music who have offices in Dublin and in Reutlingen in Germany. We have shared the stage twice with none other than Goitse and there is another pairing coming up in October."

The new album is once again recorded, mixed and mastered by Andy Horn. Saoirse says the band would love to play Ireland again and hopes they'll be back in the near future.

This article was first published in the Kildare Nationalist.