For musical passion, energy, depth and spirit you would need to go a long way to beat Mànran’s new album, An Dà Là (The Two Days). Traditional tunes and themes are treated to exciting and contemporary arrangements and newer compositions retain that vibrant Scottish-Irish traditional sound for which they are so well known, both at home and abroad.
Their distinct sound owes much to the distinctive mix of instruments within the band, and equally to the expertise of members Ewen Henderson (vocals, fiddle, highland pipes) Gary Innes (accordion), Ross Saunders (bass guitar, vocals), Mark Scobbie (drums, percussion), Ryan Murphy, (uilleann pipes, wooden flute, and new band member Craig Irving (guitar and vocals).
The excellent title track is a powerful and anthemic song written and sung by Ewen Henderson. An Dà Là’s lyrics are sung both in English and Gaelic, and reflect upon the changes and challenges facing the world today. Beginning as a gentle song with simple accompaniment it builds into a strong and boldly accompanied Celtic anthem which is both memorable and enjoyable.
Written by Californian singer songwriter, Ben Harper, Alone is a sensitive and touching song with Craig Irving’s wholesome vocals accompanied to great effect by guitar, uilleann pipes and accordion. Another particular highlight is Fios, with its lamenting of the clearances and forced migration on Islay. Sung in Gaelic both vocal and musical delivery is powerful and provides emotional linking of this old song to themes that still resonate today.
There is no shortage of cracking instrumental sets on An Dà Là, each of which showcases the individual and collective skills within the band. Hour is a rip-roaring set of jigs and reels, fast paced and energetic pipes, fiddle and accordion abound with bass and drum rhythms that are sure to fill the dancefloor. Autobahn is a set which also has a very traditional feel to it initially, then develops a strong contemporary vibe with syncopated beats and creative musical harmony.
Mànran’s An Dà Là may at times leave you breathless… but definitely happy. From the intricate Celtic patterns painted by the highland and uilleann pipes, to the driving rhythms of guitar, bass and drums, heartfelt vocals and surprisingly ubiquitous fiddle and accordion playing, this album delivers so much in terms of traditional and contemporary music. Celtic rock, Celtic soul, reels, jigs, and laments, An Dà Là has it all, with a tremendous dose of pride, passion and skill. Well done the lads of Mànran!Andy McMillan
Released on Manran Records on 20th January 2017
Produced by Manran
10. An Da La