Wednesday 20 April 2016


CD Review

Matter of Time

One thing you can never say about Dallahan is they don't give value for money. This album is packed with great music, singing and sounds and if you listen carefully there is probably a kitchen sink in there too.

Jani Lang, Jack Badcock, Andrew Waite
and Ciaran Ryan who are Dallahan
This is the band's second album and they are part of what seems to be a resurgence of Scottish bands and musicians who are determined to take the world of folk by storm.
The quartet, who are Andrew Waite, Jani Lang, Jack Badcock and Ciaran Ryan, hit the listener right between the eyes from the off. Helping the band to bring this fascinating collection of music to fruition are Paddy Callaghan, Jarlath Henderson, Ciara McCafferty, Toby Shippey and Jenny Hill.
Logan sets the band's stall out giving you a flavour of the wide range of instruments and sounds they bring to the table. Badcock's strong but smooth voice has the body to hold its own even when surrounded by the collection of music from his fellow participants. Waite drives the rhythm along with some impressive accordion playing which is chased by the fiddle on several occasions.
In complete contrast Blow The Candle Out is a gentle ballad which opens with McCafferty's distinctive and haunting voice that sounds almost childlike and yet possesses a real depth of emotion. It matches perfectly with the equally smooth tones of Badcock. The ballad is a very restful piece which seems to draw all your tensions away. The understated backing music slides perfectly under their singing for what is a pretty complex piece of music which incorporates the gentle blowing of Shippey on trumpet.
This is followed by Harbour Of Polperro which is a collection of tunes with a more traditional feel, where it seems everyone wants to get in on the act. Unlike too many cooks spoiling the broth, this gathering has a feel of a painting where the more they add layers the more the piece comes alive and the depth and perspective all open up to reveal the whole picture.
Jarlath Henderson
The Reaper is another gentle ballad in which the tune is quite light which is at odds with the title and and lyrics which have sinister elements but what it does do is showcase Badcock's range that is highlighted once more by McCafferty.
What follows is Dutch Courage, another collection of tunes, is almost schizophrenic in that it has this traditional Celtic body but somehow has a feel which harkens back to a sixties-style which you can never quite put your finger on. The fiddle playing and Ryan's banjo picking make this tune, which is one of those that gets under your skin and whether you want to or not, some part of your body will begin moving in time to it.
Just to make sure you don't relax the fiddles and banjo keep you on your toes with Zold Erdoben which is a fast paced collection of traditional tunes from Europe which evoke scenes of locals gathering in a community hall or barn to just enjoy dancing. There are so many elements to these tunes it's easy to feel slightly punch drunk at the end, but in the nicest possible way of course.
Coming nearer home with a traditional duet of tunes Ferny Hill and First Day of Spring, the accordion on this one is loud and proud held up by the robust fiddle playing and highlighted underneath with the lovely banjo of Ryan.
Indulging in a spot of musical continent hopping Pierre's is a triplet of tunes, this time opening with an eastern European flavour before going for more of a full-blown jazz/traditional fusion.
Finally, Stretched On Your Grave, gives the listener a chance to catch their breath. Badcock produces a gentle version of the song with was popularised by Sinead O'Connor on her debut album. His singing style gives it a much lighter tone as well giving it the feel of a narrative rather than a song. Just to stop you getting too settled another triplet of tunes 'spolkas come at you in full dance mode. Ending the three pieces with a real gypsy-style traditional Hungarian tune.
The new album
The last track, There Ain't No Easy Way, takes the album out with a full sound where the chorus bears a remarkable similarity to Seth Lakeman's Portrait Of My Wife. However, this is the band going out with a bang, there are strands of jazz and rock in there along with a spattering of funk. Which pretty much sums up what Dallahan does.
They cram as much music, sound and rhythm into their performances as they can, but they do it in a way where it never sounds confused or chaotic and will give the listener ample opportunities to discover something new every time the album is played.
Dallahan seem to have found their feet and voices and are quite willing to trawl the musical seas for new and exciting sounds while always keeping their sound firmly rooted in the traditional. This album gives you your monies-worth and then some.

Matter of Time is available now through the band's website and via downloads.

You can also catch the band live on April 23 at Hatton Castle, Turriff, Aberdeenshire. Show starts at 8pm. On May 26 they play at Colvend Hall as parft of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival. Again the show starts 8pm. The following night they are performing at Falkirk Town Hall, Falkirk. Show starts 8pm.

The Mike Harding Folk Show

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