Friday, September 18, 2009

Julie Murphy - Lilac Tree (2002 Wales) @320

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By now we really shouldn't be surprised by anything that Julie Murphy delivers. In the past she has given us traditional material, Welsh language songs, and made bold excursions into world music... and now there is a first album of her own original material. And what is more, given her track record, we really shouldn't be surprised, either, that it's so very good. Murphy seems to have the Midas touch and while these songs - most co-written with Fernhill guitarist and singer Richard Llewellyn - are a slow burn, they gnaw away at you with instant guile. Her songwriting was apparently sparked by the death of her father, and the album recorded in a four-day frenzy of activity at the Dreamworld studios in Pembrokeshire. The result is a low-key album of understated passion and minimalist jazzy arrangements (an extraordinary arrangement of Fighting for Strangers)... Murphy is a class act who invests her songs with such an instinctively subtle gravitas you are drawn in before you know it. Deeply impressive. - Colin Irwin, Mojo

01 - Kiss Like That.
02 - My Father Was
03 - Lilac Tree
04 - Leave Him
05 - My Church
06 - Train (Going West)
07 - Fighting for Strangers
08 - Fasting Girl
09 - Night Visit
10 - Cilgerran (Glory of Love)

Julie Murphy: vocals
Richard Llewellyn: Acoustic & electric guitars, Vocals
Tim Harries: Bass & piano
Rowan Griffiths: Drums
Tomos Williams: Trumpet

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Julie Murphy & Dylan Fowler - Ffawd (2001 Wales) @320

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Ffawd (fate): A whole album of the thrilling, clear voice of Julie Murphy is certainly good news. Here she is accompanied by Dylan Fowler, a guitarist of no mean technique, but more importantly of great imagination. Whilst Murphy is best known as vocalist with Fernhill, Fowler has a more jazz background and has collaborated with such varied figures as Danny Thompson, Loreena McKennit and Dick Heckstall-Smith .... Paul Burgess. The Living Tradition

01 - Collen lawn Cawell llawn. Can Wil y Tloty
02 - Y Folantein
03 - Cariad Cyntaf
04 - Can o Glod i Mwynyn Penrhiwrmenyn
05 - Gwel yr Adeilad
06 - Can Dyffryn Clettwr
07 - Y Deryn Du a’i Blufyn Shitan
08 - Y Bachan Main
09 - Morgan Jones o’r Dole Gwyrddion
10 - Hiraeth am Feirion
11 - Bugeilia’r Gwenith Gwyn
12 - Y Ddau Farch
13 - Y Gwydd
14 - Can y Fari

Julie Murphy - vocals
Dylan Fowler - strings

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Julie Murphy - Black Mountains Revisited (1999 Wales) @320

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Fernhill vocalist Julie Murphy has just released an outstanding solo album with accompaniment by some of the finest acoustic players of the present-day. Featured artists include slide guitar wizard Martin Simpson and the legendary double bassist Danny Thompson as well as hurdy-gurdy maestro Nigel Eaton, Julie's partner in the innovative duo Whirling Pope Joan.

01 - Oxford City
02 - The Farmer (A Love Song)
03 - Polly Vaughan
04 - Bethel
05 - As In The Market
06 - Sylvie
07 - Two Sisters
08 - Are You Ready
09 - Black Is The Colour

Julie Murphy: Vocals
Danny Thompson: Bass
Dylan Fowler: Guitar
Martin Simpson: Guitar
Doug Robinson: Bass
Stacey Blythe: Piano, Organ
Lynne Denman: Vocals
Nigel Eaton: Hurdy-gurdy
Neil Woollard: Vocals
Kate Ronconi-Woollard: Fiddle
Ceri Mattthews: Cittern

Julie Murphy, Lynne Denman & Joanne Acty - English Love Songs (1998 Wales) @320

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Searching for Lambs...The Cuckoo...A Blacksmith Courted Me...The Dark-Eyed Sailor... these and ten more love songs are among the treasures of the English folk tradition and wonderfully evoked in this album. Available both on CD and cassette the collection is presented by three fine interpreters of traditional song. Fernhill's Julie Murphy is already acknowledged as one of the foremost singers of her generation - 'a stunning female voice' is how Living Tradition magazine has described her. Julie has often performed in partnership with Lynne Denman from the band Ffynnon, and the power of their vocal harmonies can be heard on the album's fine version of The Banks of the Sweet Primroses. Joanne Acty from the acclaimed Oxfordshire band Magpie Lane completes the trio of performers whose voices are enhanced by sensitive and inventive arrangements on fiddle, guitar, clarinet, accordion, cello, harpsichord and other instruments.

01 - Searching for Lambs
02 - Our Captain Cried
03 - Bedlam City
04 - Blacksmith Courted Me
05 - The Cuckoo
06 - My Johnny was a Shoemaker
07 - The Lowlands of Halland
08 - The Bonnie Light Horseman
09 - Felton Lonnin
10 - The Banks of Sweet Primroses
11 - The Dark-eyed Sailor
12 - I'll Weave My Love a Garland
13 - Black is the Colour
14 - The Blacksmith


Julie Murphy: vocals (Fernhill)
Joanne Acty: Vocals (Magpie Lane)
Lynne Denman: Vocals (Ffynnon)

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 (produced by Julie Murphy)
Stacy Blythe: Accordion, harppsichord, cello
Ceri Matthews: Clarinet, guitar, cittern, pipes
Dan Morris: Fiddle
Bernard Kilbride: Fiddle

Tracks 3, 6, 8, 11, 13 (produced by Tim Healey)
Peter Acty: Guitar, mandola
Di Whitehead: Cello, recorder
Andy Turner: Concertina
Mat Green: Fiddle

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fernhill - Na Prádle (2007 Wales) @320

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Recorded Live at Divadlo Na Prádle, Prague on 09-03-2006.

01 - Whilia
02 - Llatai
03 - Bredon Hill
04 - Grey Cock
05 - Gwalch
06 - Folantein
07 - Lloer Dirion
08 - Chwant

Julie Murphy: vocals
Tomos Williams: Trumpet & piano
Ceri-Rhys Matthews: guitar & flute

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fernhill - Hynt (2003 Wales) @320

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Fernhill continues its well-deserved run as one of Wales' top bands with their fourth release, Hynt. Formed in 1996, the group earned its reputation by adding a sophisticated, jazzy twist on traditional Welsh music. The centerpiece is the remarkable voice of Julie Murphy. It is a deceptively unassuming instrument, devoid of histrionics yet emotive and jam-packed with nuance. She draws the listener in with a supple turn of phrase and an expressive vibrato. Her band mates (Ceri Rhys Matthews on guitar, Cass Meurig on fiddle and crwth, Tomos Williams on trumpet, and Tim Harris on bass) complement her cool vocals with a light, groove-based back-up, but they are far more than mere accompanists. Williams' work on trumpet has the stamp of Miles Davis all over it, with its drawn-out, muted lines. Meurig's fiddle has just the right lilt. Matthews and Harris keep things flowing with their expansive sense of rhythm.
The songs on this release have the deep mysticism of Welsh myth, with images of dark woods, fairies, goblins and misty moors, yet they avoid drifting off into the aether or wallowing in New Age cliché. Their urbane, earthy sensibility keeps things well grounded. The mesmerizing title track has a seductive sway and features scratchy snippets of spoken Welsh between the phrases. There are several epic ballads on the disc that run through multiple changes in pace, texture, and tone. "Gwalch (Nutty Man)," a surrealistic number that weighs in at over nine minutes, features the English-language rapping of Nobsta Nutts. The seven-minute plus "Grey Cock" showcases Murphy's elastic sense of phrasing and ability to handle large melodic leaps. Despite the length of these and other tracks, the disc clocks in at only forty-one and a half minutes, leaving the listener thirsty for more. Fernhill's subtle siren song is a rare treat, and one well worth following. 
- Peggy Latkovich

01 - Impo
02 - Wasod
03 - Grey Cock
04 - Gwalch
05 - Neithor
06 - Clangeia
07 - Hynt

Julie Murphy: vocals
Tomos Williams: Trumpet
Ceri-Rhys Matthews: guitar and clarinet
Tim Harries: double bass
Cass Meurig: fiddle

Fernhill - Whilia (2000 Wales) @320

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01 - Whilia
02 - Fi Wela
03 - Dole Teifi
04 - Dawns o Gwmpas
05 - Cariad fel y Mor
06 - Dawns Tro
07 - Chwant

Julie Murphy: vocals
Andy Cutting: button accordion
Ceri-Rhys Matthews: guitar and clarinet
Tim Harries: double bass
Cass Meurig: fiddle


Fernhill - Llatai (1998 Wales) @320

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01 - Llatai
02 - Daniel Sgubor
03 - Pontypridd
04 - Blacksmith
05 - Gladez & Katell
06 - Carol Haf
07 - Cariad
08 - Bredon Hill

Julie Murphy: vocals
Andy Cutting: button accordion
Ceri-Rhys Matthews: guitar and clarinet
Jonathan Shoreland: pastoral oboes, flutes, whistles, clarinets and bagpipe


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