For St. Valentine's Day we are delighted to be working with Belgium based band, Shantalla on the release of an exclusive single called “A Band of Gold”. This beautiful song, composed by Dublin songwriter Maurice McGrath, is a love story centred on a couple who cannot marry because the man is not wealthy enough and the woman's father forbids it. The 'band of gold' of the title is the wedding ring which he cannot afford to buy. Shantalla discovered this song as part of our 2014 Songwriter Showcase with Christy Moore. It was short-listed by Christy in his final selection.
The release of this track is also the start of a new series of stand-alone singles that will be released on Tradconnect. It allows artists to get immediate radio airplay worldwide via our Download Centre. Broadcasters can download the tracks for free.
Although Shantalla are based in Belgium, the five male band members are all Irish and singer Helen Flaherty is Scottish. Since 1996 they have built a reputation as a must-see band. Helen’s charming presence on stage engages audiences and the band’s live performances are powerful and passionate, yet also full of good humour and interaction with the audience.
Shantalla's singer Helen Flaherty says: "I found this song by going through dozens of entries in a songwriting competition organised by Tradconnect. There were some good ones in there but 'A Band of Gold' stood out for me, even if it didn't eventually win the competition! It's a modern song but it's composed in such a traditional style that you could think it was written in the 19th Century. When I brought it to the lads in the band they loved it too and we very quickly came up with an arrangement and started playing it in our live show. We played it last year in Switzerland, France, Russia, Belgium and The Netherlands and it went down really well everywhere. We thought it was high time to record it and bring it to a global audience."
Songwriter Maurice McGrath says; "Shantalla's recording of 'A Band Of Gold' has a beautiful honesty to it. The purity of Helen's voice is matched by the haunting instrumentation. It has a quiet passion that is quite disarming. As a songwriter, it's a great pleasure to know that Shantalla are bringing 'A Band Of Gold' to life by sharing it with diverse new audiences internationally."
Shantalla has played major theatre and festival stages around Europe, including headlining in 2015 the Siberian ethnic music festival Mir Sibiri to over 10.000 people – one of very few Celtic acts to do so. They have released three CDs to date that have been unanimously well received by critics and public alike, with many commenting on how surprising it is to hear such fresh, well-played and well-arranged music from a band based in Continental Europe. The music is drawn from many sources – Ireland and Scotland obviously, but also the USA, Canada and Brittany – and includes original compositions, new arrangements of contemporary material and reworkings of traditional music.
They state that their success over a long period of time is down to “the unique voice and charm of Helen Flaherty, the driving rhythms of Simon Donnelly and Joe Hennon, and the multi-instrument attack of Michael Horgan, Gerry Murray and Kieran Fahy, making Shantalla quite unique in the world of Celtic music. As far as we know, no other band currently combines the lead instruments of uilleann pipes, accordion, fiddle, flutes and whistles under one roof.”
The band is currently working on its fourth CD which will be released in Spring 2017, and “A Band of Gold” will no doubt be a featured track.
For broadcasters that are part of our Download Centre the single is available as a free download for immediate airplay on St.Valentine’s Day.
Formed and based in Belgium, Shantalla have been on the music scene since the mid 1990's and have already released two highly acclaimed albums. The self titled "Shantalla" was released in 1999 and the follow up "Seven Evenings, Seven Mornings" was released in 2001. In 2005 after eight years on the road they called it a day. "Musical fatigue, life's quirky turns of fate and desires to explore new musical ground were some of the reasons". After six years apart they have reformed and this is their new release.
Not being familiar with their back catalogue I can listen to this album with fresh ears, that haven't been influenced by any previous knowledge of their music. And so what a revelation Turas is, with its fine balance of slow melodic interludes and uptempo reels and jigs set out in arrangements that are complex and multi-layered. They paint a slightly different musical landscape from the norm with the use of low whistles, and the understated uilleann piping of Michael Horgan is central to this sound. Their music reveals itself slowly and the arrangements grow in a measured way. Marching In Jig Timeis a typical example, starting slowly with uilleann pipes only and developing and growing into a full blown set. Song choices too are different to what would be the normal fair and are executed with exquisite arrangements supported by the endearing Scottish lilt of Helen Flaherty. Guitar and accordion from our own Gerry Murray on What You Do With What You Got, a song by Si Kahn is perfect. This set likewise grows as it progresses with strings added and closes out with an original composition by Gerry Murray.
Donkey Ride In the Sky is a beautiful haunting set that includes the title track written on a Ryanair flight to Italy by Gerry Murray and closes out with a Joe Liddy composition The Red Bee.
On the strength of Turas, Shantalla are a group that should be more widely known outside of their homeland of Belgium and Europe where they mostly tour. They play music that is tender and delicate at times with pipes and low whistles to the fore, and can raise the levels to match the best when required. Their arrangements are extremely well orchestrated and are always engaging with the production and mastering of the album as good as you will get. All groups that have been on the road for some time should probably follow Shantalla's lead and take a break to "dream it all up again", if an album like this is the result. Shantalla have "dreamed it all up again" and are enjoying themselves while producing some great music in the process.
"Shantalla made a couple of fine albums around 2000 for Wild Boar but the group stopped performing regularly in 2005. Well now they are back and it's not a case of trading on old glories. Turas represents several steps forward from the decade-old predecessors. The album is better recorded, the playing is more precise and reflective, the arrangements more thoughtful and Helen, for all her laid-back approach is an arresting singer. No weak tracks but Helen's way with Fair & Tender Maidens stands out."
SHANTALLA - Turas
Appel Rekords APR1333
There's long been a tradition of good Celtic music from Scots and Irish expatriates on the continental music scene, going back to an early member of the Battlefield Band, if not before.
Shantalla are a six piece band, based in Belgium; though from this album it would be difficult to know they are not in the UK or Irish mainstream; they play excellent music with excellent production which draws the listener to the very heart of their recording.
There are lots of tunes, some trad and some composed by accordion and whistle player Gerry Murray and by fiddler Kieran Fahy. There is also an occasional tune by the likes of Michael McGoldrick, Phil Cunningham and the gloriously named Guns Of The Magnificent Seven by Fintan McManus.
Songs are lead by Helen Flaherty, with warm, intimate interpretations of Si Kahn's What You Do With What You've Got, Gloomy Winter by Robert Tannahill, and a Karine Polwart song. This, apparently, is a Shantalla who have reformed after six years. I missed them the first time round, and will now be investigating their early work. You'll do much worse than putting in some detective work on this.
Appel Rekords, 2011
The Irish/Scottish band Shantalla is back. After a break of six years the Belgium based musicians recorded their third CD "Turas" together with their new member Simon Donnelly (guitars, bouzouki).
They start off with a breathtaking interpretation of the traditional Scottish song "The Braemer Poacher". Helen Flaherty's beautiful singing and Michael Horgan's virtuoso uilleann pipes and flute playing are driven by an intoxicating guitar-bodhràn rhythm. Karine Polwart's melancholic ballad "Whaur dae ye lie?" is brought forward by Flaherty with much emotion and accompanied by Kieran Fahy on fiddle, Gerry Murray on accordion and Joe Hennon on guitar. Another perfect showcase for Flaherty's hauntingly beautiful voice is the traditional "Fair & tender Maidens"; bouzouki rhythm, brilliant whistle playing, accordion, fiddle and pipes join in to create an incredible sound. But the band also play some fantastic instrumental sets. "John Doherty's" starts off as a slow reel, accelerates the pace and finishes with awesome playing together of pipes, fiddle, accordion and whistle and "Marching in jig time" is a striking combination of the two dance rhythms. Another highlight is the final set "The Hut". Beginning with the accordion leading the tune, the other instruments join in and play their solos by turns, you can't but move to the rhythm.
Shantalla are some of the finest musicians in the traditional folk scene and the fans will adore their new album.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup
SHANTALLA – Turas (Appel rekords, APR 1333) 2011 – 51:26
SHANTALLA – Turas (Appel rekords, APR 1333) 2011 – 51:26
Belgium is a land of Irish and Scottish music, right? Well, Shantalla is a Belgium-based band composed of mostly Irish band members, and some Scottish representation by vocalist, bodhran, and shakers player, Helen Flaherty. Helen is accompanied by Joe Hennon on guitars; Michael Horgan on uilleann pipes, flute, low and high whistles; Gerry Murray on accordion and low and high whistles; Kieran Fahy on fiddle and viola; and Simon Donnelly on guitars and bouzouki. All tunes are arranged by Shantalla and feature traditional melodies and rhythms. However, most of the songs are instrumental and possess a characteristic Celtic and Scottish tone throughout. The mandolin brightens things up on "The Boy and the Princess." In fact, even Mongolian throat-singing appears on "Johnny Doherty's." Overall, Shantalla amazes the listener with jingly, folk tunes and classic vocals. Perfect for fans of Celtic, Scottish, and folk music. Also, Belgian fans will love it.
SHANTALLA - Turas
/ paru le 03-08-2011 /
C'est en 1999 que Shantalla, groupe folk formé d'Irlandais et d'Écossais établis en Belgique, sort son premier album. L'opus "Seven Evenings, Seven Mornings" suivra en 2001. En 2005, c'est la séparation, chacun partant sur des projets personnels. Le guitariste Joe Hennon rejoindra Omnia. Mais fin 2009 ils décident de revenir à la scène. Ils s'adjoignent aussi un second guitariste en la personne de Simon Donnelly, lequel joue aussi du bouzouki. Fin 2010, retour au studio.
Le résultat est un troisième opus répondant au doux nom de "Turas", ce qui signifie journée en irlandais. Cette journée, Shantalla nous l'offre sous la forme de chansons à l'ambiance celtique, irlandaise et écossaise. Du folk de pure souche, comme celui d'un certain Alan Stivell. On apprécie la superbe voix de l'Écossaise Helen Flaherty et les instruments divers (bouzouki, violon, viole, flûtes de toutes sortes, bodhran, cornemuse, accordéon) qui donnent un cachet particulier à leur folk. Les chansons alternent avec des titres instrumentaux, comme c'était le cas avec le précédent opus. S'ils excellent dans ses instrumentaux, ils peuvent toutefois donner l'impression de se répéter quelque peu…
L'ensemble est somme toute assez mélancolique et on apprécie le mélange de nouvelles mélodies avec des moments tirés de chansons traditionnelles. Ils reprennent aussi un titre de la folksinger écossaise Karine Polwart, une chanson qui parle du massacre de Srebrenica. Sombre et mélancolique bien entendu !
Shantalla nous offre un nouvel album dans la tradition du folk celtique et irlandais, alliant la mélancolie à l'ambiance festive d'un pub local, un folk qui fleure bon la tradition façon Alan Stivell. Le tout est emballé dans un beau digipack qui nous conte l'histoire de chacune des compositions.
Appel Rekords APR 1333