Grainne Holland – Corcra

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

After two albums of traditional songs, Corcra, her third is Grainne Holland’s first of her own songs. Holland has gathered an impressive band of musicians to back her, Aidan O’Rouke from Lau, Brian Finnegan from Flook and many others. With Grainne’s powerful voice, fine songs, captivating arrangements and strong playing the album is spellbinding. “Mise Agus Tusa” is a love song for husband Fraine, with its infectious clattering drums. “Coinsias Corp Agus Croi” is a mist like atmospheric piece. Sean Og Graham’s sublime guitar sparkles and patters like rain, while surprising trombone, fiddle and whistle suggest shafts of sunlight and Holland’s voice just soars. “Lon Dubh an Gheimhridh” a song of winter sadness continues the air of contemplation. Grainne’s voice is low and along with Og Graham’s guitar and Aidan’s fiddle pulls your heart strings inviting a sense of reflection and wonder.

“Ni Chluinim, Ni Fheicim” has an altogether more visceral vocal and some bubbling bird song like whistles, flute and electronics. With its ancient and modern mouth music the spirit of Martin Bennett is never far away on this fine song. Another fine vocal and another very fine arrangement and playing from a Stella band. “Goodbye Love” is another compelling tune and vocal, with the atmospheric high and low notes divided between mainly. fiddle and guitar. The comparative simplicity of the tune gives opportunity for musicians and singer to revel in the sense of effortless space and joy. Harry’s, written for Holland’s father, conjours a kind of Celtic Mike Oldfield playing mystical Incantations. The track builds slowly and steadily to great effect along its five minutes forty to great effect. “Empty” is a Celtic Pop song with another beautiful Og Graham guitar part and a wonderful vocal and with a hint of a soothing Delores ORoirdan. “Miracle” is the most delicate to last with the soaring vocal carried over a melody of hymn like piano and breath like washes of trombone, fiddle and whistle.

Surprising arrangements, beautiful playing, wonderful vocals on evocative songs make this a compelling listen.