CD Review: Songlines

Barrule – Manannan’s Cloak
Wardfell Records (52 mins)
****

De-mist-ifying the Isle of Man

Manannan is the Celtic sea god who protects the Isle of Man from invasion by shrouding it in mist. There is perhaps an irony to Barrule’s second album’s title, as the trio’s noble mission is to cast off the cloak of invisibility and bring Manx music and language (which is close to both Scots and Irish Gaelic) to the world’s attention. Jamie Smith (accordion), Tom├ís Callister (fiddle) and Adam Rhodes (bouzouki) kick off in fine style, and at some velocity, with ‘Wheel of Fire’, a set of jigs and reels. One of these is by Manx flautist Peddyr Cubberley, who also wrote the beautiful tune ‘Kinnou1l’.

‘Yn Ven-Ainshter Dewil and ‘llliam Boght’ are interesting Manx songs that tell stories familiar to folk songs in English. In the former a woman falls in love with her servant and then, when he refuses her, ruins him; the latter is about a girl who outwits her murderous lover, who has already drowned six women, and drowns him – the plot of ‘The Outlandish Knight’. ‘Fir-Hammag Yioogh’ is a contemporary song, an attack on ‘high net-worth’ individuals – thousands of whom have settled in the Isle of Man to avoid paying tax, making home and land ownership difficult for local people. The album ends with ‘The Laxey Reels’, another sparkling set. These tunes turn and turn, like the waterwheel in Man that they are named after – the largest in the world.