I'm focused on music from Ireland (mostly) and Scotland today: old, new, and the old made new. Let's start with a quiet, eerie traditional ballad and move on from there....
Above: "My Son David" (also known as "Edward" and "My Son Henry," Child Ballad #13) performed by Atlantic Arc, a new ensemble of musicians and singers from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, directed by Dónal Lunny. The ensemble members are Graham Henderson (keyboards), Jarlath Henderson (vocals, guitars, pipes, whistles), Sharon Howley (cello), Dónal Lunny (bouzouki, guitar), Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle), Davie Ryan (drums), Pádraig Rynne (concertina), Pauline Scanlon (vocals), and Ewen Vernal (bass). The song is Atlantic Arc's first released, filmed in County Clare (2021).
Below: "The Táin," an interpretation of the ancient Irish epic with music by Lorcán Mac Mathúna, contemporary dance by Fearghus Ó Conchúir, and the art of Louis Le Brocquy. The performance was filmed at The Model gallery in Sligo in 2018, with musicians Martin Tourish (piano accordion), Daire Bracken (fiddle) and Éamonn Galldubh (pipes and flute) backing up Mac Mathúna's vocals.
"The aim of the artists was to give the medieval words of The Táin a physical interpretation combining movement, imagery, and music," Mac Mathúna explains. "To give the livid drama of the tale its full breadth with the 'seen' and 'heard' gestures of movement of body, and voice; all in the presence of a selection of Le Brocquys wonderfully animated 'shadows of the text'."
Above: "The Wild Rover," a traditional song performed by Lankum (brothers Ian & Daragh Lynch, Cormac MacDiarmada, and vocalist Radie Peat), based in Dublin. The song appeared on their album The Livelong Day (2019).
Below: "Abair Liom do Rúin (Tell Me Your Secrets)" by Clare Sands & Steve Cooney, with Tommy Sands (spoken word). "We wrote and recorded the song over three days and nights by candle-light to create a mantra that growls from the belly and sings from the heart," says Clare. "'Abair Liom do Rúin' is a transcendent, traditional trance-like ode to Spring." The video, made by visual artists Liadain Ni Bhraonáin and Kasia Kaminska, was filmed in Donegal and has just been released.
Above: "Blood Moon," an old favourite from the Northern Irish "atmosfolk" duo Saint Sister (Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty), from their first EP, Madrid (2015). The video was directed by Myrid Carten and Aphra Lee Hill; the young actors are Meabh Parr and Emma White.
Below: "Oh My God Canada," the latest release from Saint Sister. The song will appear on their new album, Where I Should End, due out in June.
And a rousing tune to end with, below:
"Earworm" by The Bonny Men, based in Dublin. The video -- exploring "the tormernt of the creative process" -- was a collaboration between Irish film director Gavin Fitzgerald, choreographer Sibéal Davitt, and The Bonny Men, filmed in a desolate Dublin power station. (In my imagination at least, there's a distinct whiff of Bordertown here.) The song appears on the band's most recent album, The Broken Pledge (2020).
The art today is by Louis Le Brocquy (1916-2012), from his celebrated illustrations for The Táin. All rights reserved by the artist's estate.