The Unseen Hours
(Greentrax, 2005)

Malinky is surely one of the best bands on the scene at present, a claim driven home by the newest release, The Unseen Hours.

"Clerk Saunders" is one of my favourite tracks on offer. It opens with a beautiful instrumental sequence to give way to new addition to the band for 2005 -- Fiona Hunter. It is a traditional ballad of love, conflict and loss. From the beautiful voice of Fiona, they move with another traditional piece, "Hughie the Graham," and the stronger vocal style of Steve Byrne.

To hear the band's instrumental prowess you should give a listen to "The Scotia Set," comprising of a march, a strathspey and a couple of reels. "John O'Dwyer of the Glen" is an English translation of an Irish song they first heard sung by Len Graham.

One of the contemporary songs on offer comes from Canadian writer David Francey. The title is "Flowers of Saskatchewan." It recalls an episode of World War II and is delivered with quiet power by Byrne. "The Sun's Cousin" brings together a Croatian folktale and a great band to give us a six-minute plus yarn with some spooky overtones.

The album ends with the lovely "My Ain Countrie," with a marvelous rendition from Fiona again.

This album is just the right mix of old and new to please the discerning listener. The familiar will reassure and the new material will open your eyes, ears and heart to the great songs still being written, which give folk music its heart and soul. The accompanying booklet is full of information on the songs along with the lyrics.

Do not let the Unseen Hours go unheard -- you will be the loser.

by Nicky Rossiter
31 December 2005