Ye Vagabonds: Nine Waves – A loving marriage of old and new

Fri, May 13, 2022, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Nine Waves

Artist:
Ye Vagabonds

Label:
River Lea

Genre:
Traditional

Seven years on from their debut EP, Rose and Briar, Ye Vagabonds are mining deep the seam they’ve chosen. Nine Waves is a rounded collection, anchored by a brace of original songs.

The isolation forcibly imposed by the past two years finds expression in Diarmuid Mac Gloinn’s An Island, where he and his brother, Brían marry their distinctive sibling harmonies with resonant arrangements that summon wide-open vistas echoing the fittingly contradictory lyrics, “Alone and together/is all that we’ll ever be”. This is a song that sounds both timeless and utterly of our times.

Another fine original song, Go Away and Come Back Hither, reinforces the Mac Gloinn brothers’ ability to tap into the beating heart of the tradition, their arrangements unforced and languorous. With guest contributions from cellist Kate Ellis and double bassist Caimin Gilmore (both of Crash Ensemble), and concertinas from Cormac Begley, there are many layers to be explored. It’s a soundscape that’s as much about mood and tone as it is about ideas.

Collaborating with John “Spud” Murphy (Lankum), Ye Vagabonds’ confidence in their own sound is writ large across the traditional songs and tunes, too, and their reading of Máire Bhán is beautifully tentative and delicate, while their take on Lord Gregory (from the singing of Elizabeth Cronin) pays its dues to Planxty with its delicate strings and unhurried pacing.

A collection that yields surprises with every return visit.