The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - JOE BREEN SIOB­HÁN LONG

Lul­laby and . . . the Cease­less Roar

Nonesuch Age and ex­pe­ri­ence has its ben­e­fits. On the in­spi­ra­tions for this im­pres­sive al­bum of songs and sounds, Robert Plant says that “now I have a whole in­dex, an ab­so­lute rainbow, of in­flu­ences”. The mu­sic tips its hat in so many di­rec­tions that chas­ing them down is a fool’s er­rand. But this won­der­fully adept band keeps ev­ery­thing in shape de­spite the shift­ing gen­res. Plant’s re­cent Americana ex­plo­rations are melded into African rhythms with el­e­ments of the Bris­tol Sound. Clas­sic rock rubs riffs with the strik­ing sound of the one-stringed Gam­bian ritti. There are some ref­er­ence to the woolly mys­ti­cal, but Plant is mainly ad­dress­ing ques­tions of per­sonal iden­tity and the im­per­ma­nence of love. Yet this is, as Plant says, a joy­ous sound, a cel­e­bra­tion of space shift­ing. Down­load: Lit­tle Mag­gie, Somebody There, House of Love

LENA ULL­MAN & IVOR OT­T­LEY Skat­ing Across the Baltic

Ivor Ot­t­ley Mu­sic This might be the al­bum El­iz­a­beth Cot­ton would have made if she had been born in Swe­den and reared in Clare. Lena Ull­man – banjo player, singer, com­poser – pos­sesses a less than ro­bust voice, but she brings it to bear on songs so ut­terly sin­u­ous that the match is made, mostly ef­fort­lessly. Swedish fid­dler Ivor Ot­t­ley brings a low-slung, lop­ing style to this lo-fi col­lec­tion, par­ing the melody lines to their bare bone. At times Ull­man’s pac­ing errs on the side of lum­ber­ing (and her cover of Dirk Pow­ell’s Wa­ter­bound is an ob­ject les­son in how per­fec­tion can­not be tam­pered with), but the whole of Skat­ing Across the Baltic is so much more than the sum of its parts. This is rag and bone mu­sic that takes the high lone­some tones of blue­grass, in­fuses them with the bereft space of our tra­di­tion, and then slows the tape reel down so that we can savour ev­ery last note. iv­o­rot­t­

Slum­ber­land Records The name, pre­sum­ably, is a pun­ning ref­er­ence to the harpist Joanna New­som. But there’s noth­ing del­i­cate or un­der­stated about this Cardiff five-piece. They met at an anger man­age­ment course and their mu­sic sounds like the audio you would use to tor­ture ter­ror sus­pects. Psy­kick Es­pi­onage is re­leased as a split 7-inc inch sin­gle with New York’s Per­fect Pussy, who con­trib­ute their ver­sion of the Suger­cubes’ Leash Called Love. You have been warned.

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