Celtic Artists page

Trad & Folk
Artists and Albums

Hello! This page is part of an opinionated overview of Celtic and British folk music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... This is not meant to be taken as a "definitive" resource, but rather as a record of some of the music which has caught my interest. I am always looking for more good music to explore, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.

This is the second page covering the letter "M"

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Joanie Madden "Whistle On The Wind" (Green Linnet, 1994)
Beautiful tin whistle and flute instrumentals by a founding member of the American Celtic band, Cherish The Ladies... The whole album is lovely, but I'm particularly transfixed by the haunting, moody aire, "Blind Mary." Highly recommended!

Joanie Madden "Song Of The Irish Whistle" (Hearts Of Space, 1996)

Joanie Madden "Song Of The Irish Whistle, v.2" (Hearts Of Space, 1999)

Joanie & Joe Madden "A Galway Afternoon" (Big Mammy, 2010)

Magpie Lane "The Oxford Ramble" (Beautiful Jo Records 1993)

Magpie Lane "English Country Songs And Dances" (Beautiful Jo, 1994)

Magpie Lane "Speed The Plough" (Beautiful Jo, 1994)

Magpie Lane "Wassail! A Country Christmas" (Beautiful Jo, 1995)

Magpie Lane "Jack-In-The-Green" (Beautiful Jo, 1998)
(Produced by Tim Healey)

A magnificent, somewhat understated set of ceilidh and other English country songs, featuring a lovely melodic chorus, some rich, resonant a capella vocals, and nice, bouncy instrumental work, played on concertina, hurdy-gurdy, flute and fiddle. This down-to-earth, tradition-drenched, Oxford-based band apparently has several albums out... Having heard this one, I'm eager for more!

Magpie Lane "A Taste Of Ale" (Beautiful Jo, 2000)

Magpie Lane "Six For Gold" (Beautiful Jo, 2002)

Magpie Lane "Knock At The Knocker, Ring At The Bell" (Beautiful Jo, 2006)

Malicorne "Malicorne 1: Colin" (1974)
This French band is not "Celtic," per se, but they certainly must have been inspired by the trad revival as embodied by Irish bands like Planxty -- old-fashioned music played with a renewed, rock-flavored gusto, courtesy of the hippie counterculture. Like Planxty, Malicorne stuck pretty closely to the traditional sound, later drifting only slightly into fusion-y terrain. This album was their first, and all but one song comes from French folklore, mining similar sounds to the UK and Celtic folkies, but with a distinctively Gallic vibe. The remaining song was written by guitarist Gabriel Yacoub, who went on to record several solo albums with a similarly beautiful, melodic acoustic sound. He sounds pretty nice here, too, early on in his career. (Note: this album is also sometimes called "Colin".)

Malicorne "Malicorne 2: Le Mariage Anglais" (1975)

Malicorne "Almanach" (1976)

Malicorne "L'Extrordinaire Tour De France d'Adelard Roussou, Dit Nivernais La Clef Des Coeurs, Compagnon Carpentier Du Devoir"
(CBS/Batton Noir, 1978)

Now, how's that for an album title?? This is one of Malicorne's trippier, more psychedelic albums, with Gabriel and Marie Yacoub clearly acting as the guiding force... Sure, the group stll has plenty of traditional roots on display, including some of the stark vocal chants that the Yacoubs specialized in, but there's also a lot of weird, disjointed musical rambling, including some stuff in sort of a "concrete sound" mode... Several pretty-sounding tracks, and only one or two fusion numbers that made me wish I could hit the fast forward button on this old vinyl. All in all, a really nice record... worth checking out!

Malicorne "En Public" (Balloon Noir, 1979)
A clompy live album which has a certain ragged, earthy charm to it, but lacks the magical qualities and finesse of their best studio work. It's very much like Steeleye Span, in their more rock-oriented phases, kinda Stonehenge-y and craggy, and very much "of its time," as a Celtic-rock relic. Frankly, though, it didn't do much for me... I can live without it.

Malicorne "Le Bestiaire" (1979)

Malicorne "Balancoire En Feu" (1981)

Malicorne "Les Cathedrales De L'Industrie" (1986)

Malicorne "Vox: Compilation A Capella" (Sony, 1995)
A best-of set that concentrates on their vocal arrangements, with Gabriel Yacoub prominently featured...

Malicorne "Marie De Malicorne"
This collection focusses on the contributions of Marie Sauvet-Yacoub...

Malicorne "Legende: Deuxieme Epoque" (Hannibal/Rykodisc, 1989)
This best-of set leans a bit too much on the band's proggy, difficult side for me... There are a couple of great, weird acoustic songs and vocal tunes, but overall, I think newcomers to the band might be better off searching out their individual albums. This disc will give you a sense of the band's stylistic range, but it's kind of rough going if you're looking for more traditionally-oriented material.

Malinky "Last Leaves" (Greentrax, 2000)
The first album by this fine Scottish band... I haven't heard it yet, but after hearing the Three Ravens album (below), I am avidly searching for a copy of this one as well. Karine Polwart rocks my world.

Malinky "Three Ravens" (Greentrax, 2002)
Gorgeous! Karine Polwart, who also recently had a stint with the legendary Battlefield Band, is the lead singer of this fine Scottish combo, with a few tunes also sung by Guitarist Steven Byrne. Beautiful, melodic material -- engaging song, light, lovely playing, and above all, Polwart's fine, authoritative vocals. This is an album -- and a band -- that way more prople should know about. Highly recommended.

Malinky "The Unseen Hours" (Greentrax, 2005)

Malinky "Flower & Iron" (Greentrax, 2008)

John Martyn - see artist profile

Karen Matheson "The Dreaming Sea" (Valley, 2000)
A solo album from the lead singer of the Scottish folk-pop supergroup, Capercaillie.

Karen Matheson "Time To Fall" (Sanctuary, 2002)

Karen Matheson "Downriver" (Compass/Vertical, 2006)
(Produced by Donald Shaw)

A mellow, trad-oriented offering; the third solo album from the lead singer from Scotland's modernist Celt-pop-New Age supergroup Capercaillie. Matheson sings mainly in Gaellic (with a few songs in English), with a mellow, unhurried acoustic backing. There's a singer-songwriter side as well, which places this disc vaguely in the vicinity of Kate Bush and Aimee Mann, though with a distinctly Celtic twist. The band includes the venerable Donal Lunny on bouzouki and bodhran, as well as pianist-producer Donald Shaw and bassist Ewen Vernal, both of Capercaille fame. In general, this is a fine album, and sure to be a treat for fans who've hungered for more Matheson to return to more traditional-sounding material... For my part, I've never been a big fan of her voice -- I just don't like how she sounds -- but I found myself slowly won over to this record, the more I listened to it. Folks who are less picky and crabby than I am will certainly want to check this out.

William Matheson "Gaelic Bards And Traditions" (Greentrax, 1993)
A weighty 2-CD set of well-researched Scottish songs, gathered and sung a capella by Celtic songcatcher William Matheson, a highly regarded folklorist who lectured for many years at the School Of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh. Matheson has a fine voice, perhaps not with that certain something that some artists have that makes chills run down your spine, but still bright, clear, authoritative and well enunciated. The songs are divided into two categories, one disc of iorram songs, rambling topical and satirical ballads that were sung in loose and amorphous versions by the Scottish bards, and amhran songs, which have a firmer structure and sound more like the modern tunes we hear artists singing today. The thirty-five songs gathered here represent an impressive set of scholarship, and a rich wellspring of less well-traveled Celtic folklore. I have to confess, at first listen the starkness of presentation was a little offputting: there didnÕt seem to be enough stylistic variation to hold my attention, and while I love hearing Gaelic aloud, three dozen a capella songs in a row seemed like a bit much. But when I flipped to the second disc, the amhran album, I found these songs, anchored by a more decisive metrical structure, were much easier to settle in on. An impressive collection!

Mathews Brothers "A Kiss In The Morning Early" (Avada, 1978) (LP)

Celtic/Brit Folk Albums -- More Letter "M"

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