Review Archive

‘The EP’ from Connla – an extraordinary debut that promises much

(May 12, 2015)

The last few days have been occupied listening to a newly released recording ‘The EP’ from a Derry/ Armagh-based band called Connla - make a note of the name, you’re going to hear a lot more from them. And if they build their future on this extraordinary debut that promises much, there’s some serious potential on offer. Naturally, there’s the anchor of tradition but there’s also the freedom of innovation, and the connla the epcombination is outstanding. To introduce the band Connla are Ciaran Carlin (whistles, flute) Conor Mallon (Uilleann pipes, whistles) Emer Mallon (harp) Ciara McCafferty (vocals, bodhran) and Paul Starrett (guitar).  

The music on offer begins with the tight as a tick ‘Father Fergusson’s’, which rattles along with pipes and flute ranging over a solid guitar base augmented by insistent driving bodhrán breaks. There’s a distinct step-change with ‘Saints and Sinners’ delivered by Ciara McCafferty’s warmly attractive vocals – utterly captivating, then comes the highly emotive ‘Garden Valley’ – yet one more outing for that lovely voice, this time balancing across delicate harp with haunting flute echoes filtering through. With an evocative pipe introduction ‘The Drunken Piper’ builds layer after layer into something spellbinding with a vibrancy all its own waiting to break free.

To use my oft-stated measure for evaluating an EP - that is to say does it leave you wanting more? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Connla have launched something special, with the fates being fair in their treatment, they should be successful.

Recorded at RedBox Studios Belfast , the EP was mixed and mastered by Cormac O’Kanein along with Conor Mallon. The finished product, ‘The EP’ and the band can be found here:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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