The Motorhead Of Folk And More
Saor Patrol - Battle of Kings
The late Lemmy Kilmister called this Scottish five-piece "the Motorhead of folk" and while the band is not a metal act, they do look the part and have performed at the Wacken metal festival. Most of the songs here are instrumentals with Charlie "Chick" Allan's bagpipe riffing leading the charge, backed-up by electric guitarist Steve Legget and three drummers. That allows Saor Patrol to nicely straddle the line between traditional cuts like "Stirling Craig" and group-penned songs like "Bog Trotter" that rock up the traditional sound. A must for fans of bagpipes and Celtic music in general, Battle of Kings often entices a dance or a bit of a frolic, in a kilt or otherwise. The lengthy and plaintive "Aftermath (Battle of the Field of Shirts)" is the only vocal cut here, featuring William Van Der Laan.
Catrin Finch and Sekou Keita - Soar
This is the second collaboration between Welsh harp player Finch and Senegalese kora player Keita. The kora is a West African instrument with 21 strings so it meshes nicely with the harp, and here the two turn in a sublime set of instrumentals perfect for a mellow afternoon. Keita even plays some Bach on his kora on "Bach to Baisso" and the pair embody the very idea of serenity with the sedate Finch-penned "Listen to the Grass Grow." Cascades of delicately-picked notes abound, and they have a distinct Mandinka flavoring on cuts like "Hinna Djulo." Fans of gentle acoustic music will find Soar to be a real stunner.
Manika Kaur - Sacred Words
Should you have any preconceived notions about Sikh Kirtan music, a style built around chanting, throw them out the window and have a listen to Sacred Words. Kaur has a beautiful and breathy voice, here backed by gentle guitar, dulcimer, violin and tabla playing, and her vocal work on cuts like "Aval Allah," "Ek Tukee" and indeed throughout, is nothing short of heavenly. Whether you want to sing along with Kaur (fairly easily done phonetically) or just listen and daydream, the very ethereal Sacred Words will help you get to a place you've likely never been before.
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