Flower & Iron
(Greentrax, 2008)

Malinky is an odd name, but the band produces great music all the same.

The dozen tracks on Flower & Iron give full vent to this talented quintet, allowing each member to excel in the rendition of songs old and new. The band has a beautiful, gentle delivery that is evident from the opening bars of the first song, "Pad the Road Wi Me," through to the final note of "The Road tae Drumleman" -- but the album is not all about highways.

The vocals of Fiona Hunter are to the fore on the lovely old ballad "The Broomfield Hill," with some very clever backing streaming in and out in a weave of magic. Next up we get a lovely antiwar song from the pen of the prolific Pete St John. This is the haunting "When Margaret was Eleven," taking a child's-eye view of fathers going away to war and even more poignantly coming home. "The Shipyard Apprentice" gives us another excellent slice of real life, this time in peacetime but every bit as powerful.

We get a musical epic of more than seven minutes on the wonderful story-song "Sweet Willie & Fair Annie," which marries lyrics from 18th-century Scotland with 20th-century music from New England. Another lovely folk tale emerges on "The Ploughboy & the Maid," giving us an old story common to the tradition but given new life in Malinky's rendition. The set "Why Should I?" is unusual in that it combines two instrumentals with a song in the middle.

The band lull us gently to the end with "The Road tae Drumleman," a beautiful song that, although it sounds ancient, is actually a product of the 20th century.

Malinky has produced another gem of Scottish folk with this CD, complemented as it is with a well-produced insert giving lyrics and background notes to the songs.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

11 April 2009

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