REELAN - The Crooked Picture

REELAN - The Crooked Picture

Reelan is a new young Irish band based in Co. Kildare, named after a river in Co. Donegal and centred round the compositional and performing talents of fiddler Sandie Purcell. There’s certainly an appealing unforced energy about the playing, with the onward momentum and flow generated by guitarist Andy Meaney drawing you in from the start; but the band’s ensemble skill lies in maintaining that initial thrust and freshness over the course of a three-minute set of reels and switching melody line between fiddle (Sandie herself and/or Aoife Mullen) and concertina (Sharon O’Leary). Andy’s guitar work manages to remain an unobtrusive backbone, admirably undemonstrative yet retaining sufficient character to credibly underpin the band sound, while the twin-fiddle work on the track 4 reel-set and the final slow air A May Wedding, for example, is both attractive and vibrant. The disc’s nine instrumental tracks (eight tune-sets and a couple of slow airs) provide a good advertisement for Sandie’s first published tunebook (101 Original Compositions Of Irish Traditional Music), and the disc’s three vocal items are also Sandie’s own work, lyrics and all; these are love songs, and persuasively sung by Sandie’s sister Rossagh (the acappella A Soldier’s Grave, with fetching sibling harmonies by Sandie herself, is especially haunting). On the tune-sets, perhaps there’s a feeling at times that the band needs to cut loose more via a session-style playing environment, but these musicians certainly have plenty of potential there for the harnessing. Basically, it would seem that the band was formed (at the close of 2007) expressly for the purpose of recording Sandie’s compositions, but on the evidence of this CD they would seem to have a viable future beyond that of a purely studio band.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 82 of The Living Tradition magazine.