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Clannad - Clannad 2 CD (album) cover

CLANNAD 2

Clannad

 

Prog Folk

3.95 | 11 ratings

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TCat
4 stars So, "Clannad 2" pretty much starts up where the debut album left off, even though this album came out in 1975, 2 years later. Back in the 70's , most bands were putting out 2 or 3 albums every year, but Clannad was taking their time, slowly putting themselves into the limelight, but enjoying their freedom to create new versions of mostly traditional Irish music and styles. The core band of 5 remained the same, the siblings Bhronain and their twin uncles. The music remains mostly acoustic with guitar, keyboards with occasional piano, flute, mandolin, harp and everyone having a part in the vocals, but most of them done by Maire Ni Bhronain. There were additional musicians also used for backup, especially another one of the Braonains on the drums with other musicians providing additional keys, guitars, synths, percussion and vocals. As on the previous album, most of the vocals are in Gaelic with only one track in English. Their popularity and move to a more new age style was still a few years away. For now, the music was mostly pure Irish and Celtic folk music done in a traditional way, without the complex violin and orchestral flourishes and synthesized layers. It was pure heartfelt music steeped in tradition, vocal harmonics and just a slight bit of modernization to make things more current.

The album starts with "An Gabhar Bán (The White Goat)". This has the traditional dance sound of Irish music with a nice danceable rhythm established by the instruments and not so much the percussion. Acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute play along with Maire's vocals, and later providing embellished versions of the melody during the instrumental break. "Eleanor Plunkett" is a classic, Irish tune by Turlough O'Carolan, one of Irelands most famous composers and harpists who was also blind. It is a beautiful instrumental rendition done mostly by the harp and later supported by the flute. "Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómhair" is one of my favorite early Clannad songs. It is a slow moving tune sung heartbreakingly beautiful by Maire accompanied mostly by a single acoustic guitar (and a subtle support from keys) that has it's own lovely melody that plays out in the introduction and throughout.

"Rince Philib a'Cheoil" is a definite traditional song with the choruses utilizing a droning harmony. A sparse drumming keeps the lilting tempo, and besides the guitar there is a short flute section. "By Chance It Was" is the only song with English lyrics, but with a heavy Irish sound as the band was not yet compromising it's traditional sound. A slow repeating guitar line plays in support and a simple piano backs that up. The flute embellishes the simple melody in the instrumental break. "Rince Briotánach" starts off innocently with a solo harp and a flute added in later. After passing through the melody a third time, percussion picks things up a bit and other instruments come in and things speed up as it goes along. This instrumental continues to repeat the main melody, builds up and then backs off again to where we are left as we began.

"Dhéanainn Súgradh" starts off with only harp playing melody. After a while, male led vocals and "in-unison" group singing come in. After a few verses, the drums come in and continue to keep moderate time. During an extended instrumental break, we even get some electric guitar and flutes as it morphs into a folk rock track. "Gaoth Barra Na dTonn" is simply with Maire's unaccompanied vocals. "Teidhir Abhaile Riú" has the typical Irish lilt with mandolin and flute with male vocals and a mixed chorus coming in later along with sparse percussion. "Fairly Shot of Her" is a nice, moderate instrumental with harp, mandolin and flute. "Chuaigh Mé Na Rosann" closes the album with the longest track at over 6 minutes. It is a moderately slow track with mostly just Maire's vocals and acoustic guitar and bass. A nice flute solo comes in during the instrumental breaks. Other traditional sounding instruments help support as the track continues.

In my opinion, this album actually steps back a little from the debut as far as the additional of more popular elements, except for the electric guitar in track 7. The sound is more traditional and acoustic with softer melodies overall and a more folkish sound. Of course, we are still far away from the more commercial sound of their popular years and the real Gaelic attitude is prevalent. Again, this is a nice, laid back album, with still no real indication to popularize the sound of the band, yet in doing so, they were laying the foundation for a surge and longing for Irish and Celtic music worldwide.

TCat | 4/5 |

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