THE MAGPIE’S NEST
Robin’s latest album is a collaboration with the virtuoso young Dublin concertina player Ailbhe (pronounced Alva!) Nolan.
The album was recorded in Audioland Studios, Leixlip, Ireland by Anthony Gibney and almost all the tracks were recorded live in one take to capture the feel and energy of Robin and Ailbhe playing together.
It features a variety of traditional Irish instrumental tunes along with folk songs from Scotland and Ireland, blending Ailbhe’s keening concertina with Robin’s vocals and driving guitar accompaniment as well as delicate mandolin and ukulele picking.
Brian McNeill’s caustic Scots social commentary, a long-time live favourite, has been included along with the achingly beautiful “Loch Tay Boat Song” and the lesser-spotted Irish love song “The Magpie’s Nest”, previously performed by Shirley Collins and Alasdair Roberts.
This gorgeous song was chosen by Robin and Ailbhe to give the album its title.
BALLADS & STRAMASHES
Stramash – def. Noun, Scottish – an uproar, tumult or brawl (Collins English Dictionary)
Robin James Hurt & The Band Of Moonlight Love released the EP “Ballads & Stramashes” in 2014.
The opener is Robin’s celebrated fresh and fiery rendition of the Dominc Behan/Dubliners classic “McAlpine’s Fusiliers”, describing the harsh and brutal life endured by Irish work crews under the employ of the notorious “Concrete Bob” McAlpine.
Next is “The Kingdom Of Mourne”, an ode to the Mourne mountains in County Down, composed by Robin with lyrics from the poem of the same name written in 1946 by William Murray.
The swinging neo-hornpipe instrumental “Tune For Siona Carey” is followed by two Scottish ballads, both realised in a new and unique way.
“The Mingulay Boat Song” starts with just a gossamer-like guitar figure and gentle vocal but builds to a vast, soaring ebb and flow of music and voices, while “Anachie Gordon” is a sensitive, raw re-telling of the almost Shakespearean tragic love story famously recorded by Sinead O’Connor and Mary Black.
THE MARKET HOUSE
The Market House EP was released in 2011 by Robin James Hurt & The Band Of Moonlight Love and was recorded and produced in Dublin by Robin’s frequent recording collaborator, the internationally acclaimed producer Liam Mulvaney.
This collection opens with the magnificent and elegiac instrumental “The Doonbeg Waltz”, one of Robin’s own compositions, before setting sail with the lolloping groove and infectious choruses of “Yarmouth Town”. This is another traditional maritime song which Robin has completely made his own and is always a favourite in live performances.
Another folk song re-imagined by Robin is next, the dramatic anti-conscription tale of “Arthur McBride”. Robin’s musical arrangement for this popular song is totally new and unique and this version has earned respect and plaudits (and a bit of controversy!) in the folk music community world-wide.
Two boisterous jigs follow, led by Robin on mandolin, before the pared-down re-interpretation of “Will Ye Go Lassie Go” which draws on Robert Tannahill’s poem “The Braes Of Balquhidder” for inspiration.
THE TALLYMAN’S LAMENT
In 2008, Robin James Hurt recorded his debut solo album, after many appearances on albums by other artists and bands of which he was a member.
A big step forward for Robin musically, the album was produced by Liam Mulvaney and recorded in Dublin, Ireland with a fine supporting cast of musicians, including the principle members of the The Band Of Moonlight Love, the collective formed in 2004 by Robin and his regular musical partner and foil, Mick Morris.
“The Tallyman’s Lament” realised Robin’s signature sound on a grand scale, taking traditional tunes and folk songs and re-arranging, re-writing and re-inventing them in his unique style, while also blending in several original compositions.
The latter include the catchy mandolin- and castanet-led “The Band of Moonlight Love”, written as a theme tune for Robin’s group of like-minded musical friends.
The well-known Northumbrian folk song “When The Boat Comes In” is given a punchy new lease of life as is another song from the sea, “Farewell To Tarwathie”. This Scots ballad, written by George Scroggie in the 1850s and sung by many including Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Eurythmics, has been transformed by Robin into a lively caterwauling anthem.
Other highlights include “Come Away Home” – a powerful and evocative song written by Robin, inspired by the traditional Scots ballad “Come Awa’ Hame Laddie” – and “The Band Of Shearers”, a re-imagining of the Scots bothy ballad with rolling drums and haunting piano flourishes adding to the melodrama. “O Raging Fortune’s Withering Blast” is a fresh new musical arrangement of the Robert Burns song of the same name, adapted to also include lyrics from the 1801 Border ballad “Tell Me How To Woo Thee”.
Also featured is a cover of Ewan MacColl’s famous ode to the mining communities of South Wales, “Schooldays Over”. In a glowing review of The Tallyman’s Lament for Ireland’s “Hot Press” magazine, Greg McAteer described it thus – “’Schooldays Over’ is an almost ubiquitous part of the folk repertoire, and what you do with it as a performer – if you dare move away from the Dubliners version at all – becomes almost a statement of intent. What you get here is a muscular, angular, almost grating version that sits perfectly with the song’s theme of getting a sharp introduction to the un-cosseted world of the workplace, the thankless nature of adulthood”.