Brenda Castles: The Light Side of the Tune

Beautifully chosen concertina collection with refreshing quirks and fancies

The light side of the tune
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Artist: Brenda Castles
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent release

Space and time are in abundance on this second album from Meath concertina player Brenda Castles. She's taken time to pursue unusual versions of many well-known tunes, and contributed her own parts to tunes where she figured they would benefit from a fresh take.

The concertina is an instrument that’s enjoying a welcome revival in recent years, and Castles’s collection adds another layer of intrigue and inventiveness to the mix. As she says in the detailed liner notes, many of these tunes were melodies that she disliked as a younger player but “somehow you find the music in the tunes as you mature as a musician”.

Eclectic mix

With deliciously spare accompaniment on bouzouki, guitar and piano, Castles lets the eclectic mix of tunes do the talking. The reel set, Strawberry Blossoms is a joy, marrying the title tune with a close relative of The New Mown Meadow, borrowed from Martin Hayes, who got it from Paddy Canny.

The sense of continuity and change that permeate this collection is refreshing, with Castles paying close attention to the quirks and fancies that distinguish each of her beautifully chosen collection of tunes.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts