M’anam review – Debut from Anúna’s founder stymied by solemnity

Despite soaring voices, Michael McGlynn’s new group struggles to take flight

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Artist: M'Anam
Genre: Traditional
Label: Danú

M'Anam is the eponymous debut of Anúna's founder, Michael McGlynn. An eight-member Irish/Icelandic male choral group, M'Anam (meaning My Soul) features a mix of Irish, Scottish and Icelandic traditional songs, many of them medieval in origin.

In the midst are two outliers: a deadly earnest reading of the English folk song The Sheep Stealers and a version of the Cajun staple La Chanson de Mardi Gras (previously covered by Anúna in 2014 with Hozier on lead vocals). The latter jettisons the gloriously ramshackle original, opting instead for a formal arrangement that loses sight of the sheer fun of the tune.

Some lead vocalists shine, particularly tenor Bjorni Guðmundsson on Deyr Fé, and tenor Cian O’Donnell on Ag Iascaireacht, the simplicity and repetition of the lyric served well by Noel Eccles’s percussion.

Together, M’Anam’s choral ensemble relishes the rollicking syllabic rhythms of Bandó Ribineann. But as a collection, M’Anam struggles to find full flight, stymied by a solemnity that ultimately feels somehow unyielding.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

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