Thursday 29 December 2016


CD Review


Eddie Seaman and Luc McNally's paths crossed in 2013 from which came an EP, and one that was well received on  the folk circuit. Then after being involved with many other individual projects the pair sat down in a pub and decided to come up with an album and Tirade is it. 

Eddie Seaman
Seaman from Edinburgh and McNally from Durham have been touring with various groups for some time and much of the album is taken from the tunes they have each played while on the road.
Opener Angry Piper's Tirade can easily give the wrong impression that this album is all wailing pipes and exclusively Scottish music, and it's true as you hear the bagpipes fill ready to play and then the drones and chanters come hammering in so it would be easy to dismiss it as such.
However, it's worth persevering because Seaman and McNally are two extremely versatile musicians with an obvious enthusiasm for music, Celtic in particular and folk in general.
Once Seaman has scared you with the highland pipes he relaxes you with his skill on the whistle for Glint of Silver/ Raga Coffee. The pace is quick and the tune is light, dancing over the top of McNally on guitar. With Harry Brewer McNally gets a chance to air his voice and he has one perfectly suited for folk singing. McNally's voice is honest, down to earth, sincere and easy to listen to.
This simple tune backed by Seaman on bouzouki is the essence of folk music telling the tale of ordinary people affected by world war both those in the fray and those left at home.
This is followed by a triplet On A Boat/Trip To Ely/The Eavesdropper and on the subtle jig opener you hear the tune being driven along by the guitar before Seaman adds another layer of character with the whistle this is then further filled out by the pipes.
The lone pipes droning for the opening of  Here's The Tender Coming sets the tone for this song which you know is filled with sadness. Once again McNally's gentle voice tells the story of The Tender which was a boat which recruited men for the navy to fight in foreign wars.
McNally tells the tale of one wife who had to watch her loved on go off to fight.
Luc McNally
He has a wonderfully restful voice as he sings what is essentially a lament and he reminds very much of Martin Purdy from Harp and a Monkey.
Things lighten up with Seaman's whistle for Not Enough Triplets which picks up tunes from Ireland. The guitar underneath Seaman's playing does give it a gentle jazz feel and certainly defies you to keep your feet still as he playful gets the most out of his instrument.
The dignity of the pipes take over for another triplet Johnny MacDonald's which is made up of How Old Are You My Bonny Lass?/Jimmy McGregor/John MacDonald's Exercise.
The pipes do take a lighter tone for second and third parts which are both jigs.
Like so many pipers today Seaman shows how versatile and subtle the pipes can be, moving away from the kilt flying marching to war in the glen style so often stereotyped.
This is followed by one which will be familiar to anyone with even just a passing interest in folk. The traditional Byker Hill is given a very light, dance treatment with McNally's voice cantering through the song with a style reminiscent of George Formby.
Seaman's pipes bring in another triplet with MSR which is 93rd's Farewell To Edinburgh/The Red Coat/The Ness Pipers.
Once again the pipes are very light and laid back and that high-pitched, vinegary harshness so many associate with the instrument is left behind. As the tunes progress you get a sense of Seaman enjoying himself and letting the drones take him where they will. He really let's his fingers do the talking for the final part of the tune seemingly almost in a race with McNally on guitar.
With Infinite Space which starts with Muir Lodge Seaman once again demonstrates his versatility with a lovely and slow paced whistle tune the second part of which brings in the lovely sound of Madeleine Stewart's fiddle. The combination of all three musicians produces a restful and thoughtful piece which soon gets into the imagination.
The duo's album
The album goes out in style with Elsie Marley/Dr James Bruce of Wick.
The first part is where McNally sings of a well-known Durham character noted for her drinking and merriment.
His cadence mirrors the lively ribaldry for which she would have been known.
You can almost hear the tankards and glasses being clinked in time to the lyrics. Amidst all this is a lively, highland pipe instrumental from Seaman which was inspired by his grandfather.
Tirade is a really enjoyable collection of traditional songs and tunes which skip back and forth across the border like a taunting Scots warrior.
The chemistry between Seaman and McNally is obvious and it produces a range of music which is light but not trivial, thoughtful but not oppressive and with just enough fun sprinkled in to make this collection well worth listening to whatever mood you are in.
Let's hope that it won't be too long, in between their many other projects, that they will remember how good they are as a duo.

Tirade is available now through Skye Records

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