‘A Note Let Go’ - Ulaid and Duke Special - palpable synergy and symbiosis

(November 28, 2017)

There’s a combination of effects working here ... a theatrical edge, a poetic storytelling, an essence of tradition, the spark of innovation ... the meeting point is ‘A Note Let Go’ featuring the collaboration between Ulaid and Duke Special. Taking the best of both their worlds, they explore the works of historian and antiquary, Francis J Bigger. Born in Belfast in 1863, BiggerA Note Let Go album cover believed passionately in Irish culture, folk music, song and the Irish language, his collection of writings do much to tell the story of Belfast ... which Ulaid and Duke Special use as inspiration for ‘A Note Let Go’.

The differences between the artists does much to create the platform that launched the album, in their words: “... we wondered how we could approach each other’s worlds in a way that was both authentic and that played to our strengths. Ulaid is a group steeped in the rich tradition of a thousand years and Duke Special draws on a dusty world of gramophones and pre-rock and roll melodies.” Their meeting point was Bigger’s collection of old poems, documents and articles from Belfast’s Central Library forged their musical homage to Belfast, its history, its stories old and new. 

The songs posses a strong theatrical edge that illustrates their messages through absorbing lyrics, from ‘The Poet’s Mission’ through ‘Shipyards of Belfast’ to ‘Claudius’ and ‘Lon Dubh Loch Lao’, while the instrumentation rises and soars to weave a hypnotic tapestry from ‘Far Set’ to ‘Little Italy’ and ‘El Garrotin’. Recorded live over two nights, ‘A Note Let Go’ captures the essence of this collaboration ... Ulaid’s sumptuous arrangements and instrumental skills and Duke Special’s vocals and storytelling talent ... taking the listener deep into the palpable synergy and symbiosis between the musicians.


Review: Tim Carroll

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