Despite lacking formal management or a record label, sextet Mànran have arrived with a bang on the Scottish folk scene, and have assembled an urgent, fresh-sounding debut album.
Mànran gets off to an energetic start, with Fingal’s Cave and Reels showing off the group’s virtuosic playing. A combination of both highland and uileann pipes, accordion, fiddle, flute and a thumping drum and bass backline mean the band are really able to rock out.
A distinct shift in tone follows, with Glaodh An Iar - a song so anthemic one could imagine it being belted out in the final of some kind of Celtic folk X Factor. Norrie Maciver’s warm vocals suit this style, and he also shines on the romantic The Open Door, one of the few English-language songs on the album.
The band clearly contains a wealth of individual talents, and each instrumentalist is given space to shine on the thoughtfully arranged and well-paced tracks. Calum Stewart’s flute playing is given its due in Schottische, while Scott Mackay’s driving drums really bring Latha Math to life, and bass player Ross Saunders is a revelation throughout. Elsewhere, guest pianist Phil Cunningham adds depth to another anthemic track, An Eala Bhàn.
Mànran are capable of some catchy, almost pop-style music too. Oran Na Cloiche is sure to become a live favourite, while Speybay Switch is upbeat and danceable. Chasing Daylight, on the other hand, features some questionable 1980s-style production and drags slightly, before the pulsating Puirt brings things to an end.
A fresh, exciting and relentlessly likeable record, Mànran have set the bar high for their future output and live performances.Mark Dishman
July 2011 release on Mànran Records
1. Fingal’s Cave
3. Glaodh An Iar
4. Oran Na Cloiche
5. Speybay Switch
6. Maraiche Nan Aigh
7. The Open Door
8. Latha Math
10. An Eala Bhàn
11. Chasing Daylight