Press Reviews of Irish Music CDs recorded by Henry Marten's Ghost

These reviews feature albums recorded by Irish Band Henry Marten's Ghost.

Henry Marten's Ghost - "Ireland - A Troubled Romance" Traditional Celtic folk albums can get to be a matter of course after awhile, with the same old songs done the same old ways & not a whole lot of reason for the repetition. Here, however, we have a band that kicks up the fire pretty damn hard into classics like Come By The Hills, Spancill Hill, Back Home in Derry and the Galway Shawl.  

Making this spit even more fire is the way political & social histories of Ireland are woven into the selections chosen & then explained nicely in the insert. Of special note are the emotion-laden,  vocals of Padraig Lalor & the blazing instrumental work of all involved (Piotr Jordan - fiddle, Chris Knipe - mandola & Maire McSorley - bodhran). A terrific standout in a sometimes-bloated genre.  (Ray Dorsey USA Review)


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"Some musicians who promote the cause of Irish Republicanism go over the edge with maudlin sentimentality and beer-fueled patriotism.  The trio called Henry Marten's Ghost is happily not among them.  On "Ireland – A Troubled Romance" [self-produced 2002], the music has a rough-and-ready edge and an upfront political consciousness reminiscent of Christy Moore.

Belfast-born singer/guitarist Padraig Lalor, who can manage a good Shane McGowan snarl when required, is joined by Gypsy-influenced Polish fiddler Piotr Jordan and English mandola player Chris Knipe on old songs of sorrows like "Spancil Hill" and contemporary ones of hope like "Only Our Rivers Run Free."  The disc's political theme might alienate a few potential listeners,  but this group's down-to-earth approach helps it make a point more credibly than most."

 Tom Nelligan Dirty Linen


“I am of Ireland…Come dance with me in Ireland.”

So W.B. Yeats proclaims in the linear notes of Henry Marten’s Ghost’s CD of Irish ballads. Yeats is a good figurehead for the disc itself, as both share common traits –dramatic, airy, heroic, poetic and fully of Ireland.

A talented bunch, HMG were formed by Belfast’s Padraig Lalor, who is the singer and guitarist, They added Polish born fiddler Piotr Jordan and mandolinist Chris Knipe to the mix and off they went. A talented bunch they are.

As you should be able to tell by the title, this isn’t a collection of Irish punk cum rock-n-roll rave-ups, it traditional balladry at it’s finest. Along the lines of The Wolfe Tones meets Solas or something to that effect – while not as rowdy as the Dubliners, it still produces the same amount of emotion and response.

This disc contains 11 ballads, all done very professionally; ranking this band among the most talented of the genre, complete with that resounding sadness that cascades through these songs like a Donegal fog – a sadness that is present in all the best of the form. Favorites like “Spancil Hill” “Carrickfergus” and “Back Home in Derry” all make their mark with resplendent style that is HMG. My favorite cut is probably “The Galway Shawl.” Melancholy and haunting – this simple tale of unrealized love represents the band at it’s best – nothing is overstated. It simply is done powerfully and with much emotion. Back to the basics. I’d like to hear what HMG can do with a jig – so I’ll be investigating their other albums as soon as possible.

HMG have established themselves over the years as among Ireland’s finest balladeers

and this disc cements this rep. So pick this up when you are in the mood to be transported back to the Ireland of old – of tales told round the fire while banshees dance ‘round the windows, of crashing waves against rocky coasts - and find solace in the arms of the past with HMG.

By Sean Holland

Click on video to listen to Only Our Rivers Run Free.

Review of Irish Music CD High on Spirits by Irish Band Henry Marten's Ghost

Direct descendants of the ballad groups of yore which mixed "popular" songs with great tune sets, Henry Marten's Ghost turn their back on pretentiousness and thumb their nose at "sophistication" to give us a second shot of the "straight, no-chaser" approach which they established on 2002's "Ireland - A Troubled Romance".

Padraig Lalor (vocals, guitar) delivers some fine performances as he spars with fellow band-members Piotr Jordan (fiddle), Jill O'Shea (whistle, melodeon) and Huw Rees (drums).  Tackling songs as well-known as those which appear on the CD is a risky business.  Henry Marten's Ghost succeed because they shed new light on the material; they're not content to recreate some "classic" version, but rather they re-interpret the songs, giving them a unique and unmistakeable "HMG" sound and feel.

So too for the tune sets.  Well-chosen tunes, played with vigour and attack and yet retaining that vital ounce of understatement.

The band aimed for the feel of a typical HMG gig.  Well, that being the case, a HMG gig is worth catching!  

Pay the reckoning

Traditional Irish band available in Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cornwall, Cumberland, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Tyne and Wear, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Westmorland, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire, Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Clwyd, Dyfed, Flintshire, Glamorgan, Gwent, Gwynedd, Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Europe.

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