Folk/Trad albums: Upbeat Billow Wood provide much-needed exuberance

BILLOW WOOD

Walls of Caves

“Life is for living... don’t over-think,” Billow Wood assert, and their uplifting message couldn’t have come at a better time.

Folk/Trad albums: Upbeat Billow Wood provide much-needed exuberance

That the West of Ireland quartet chose to name one of the tracks on their debut album Carpe Diem tells of the sense of youthful joie de vivre exuding from Walls of Caves.

With much-needed exuberance to light these dark days, Billow Wood hit the ground running with their dynamic fusion of folk and trad, blended with meatier pop-rock rhythms.

Carefully balanced vocal harmonies from both male and female band members are complemented by flute, whistle, harp, and the feisty accordion-playing of Bríd O’Donnell.

With Mark O’Donnell’s agility on the fiddle firing the too-scarce instrumental tracks, the atmospheric ebbs and flows of ‘The Black River’ will be a highlight for trad fans.

But there’s something for everyone here in 13 original compositions. There are echoes of Mary Black in the folk love song ‘Old Friend’, but a Corrs-style catchiness of ‘Running from Wolf’ and ‘Pushin’ and Shovin’ marks these tracks out as having commercial pop appeal and likely airplay exposure.

The band’s launch tour was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak, but anyone currently experiencing cabin fever while stuck at home could do worse than take a bop around the living room to Billow Wood in order to lift the spirits.

LORRAINE NASH

Wildflower

Kerry-born, Cork-based Lorraine Nash is similarly rooted in Irish trad, with skills on the harp, flute, and fiddle. Her talent on guitar comes into play too on Wildflower,a five-track debut EP oflaid-back, lazy-day songs with which to watch the world go by.

Floatinglisteners away with ‘River’, and summoning up the summer sun with breezy title track ‘Wildflower’, the 21-year-old sails towards American bluegrass in the more upbeat and eminently hummable ‘Changing Tides’.

A feel-good collection recorded by Herring Ahern, Wildflower sows the seed for more fresh material to come from a bright young vocal talent and versatile multi-instrumentalist.

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