The Raven’s Rock
Cillian Vallely, piper of the trad supergroup Lúnasa, has released The Raven’s Rock, his solo debut. Featuring a number of all-star players, including his brothers Niall Vallely & Caoimhin Vallely (Buille), Sean Óg Graham (Beoga, Uláid), Paul Meehan (Lúnasa, At First Light), Ryan McGiver, Jeremy Kittel (Jeremy Kittel Trio), and others, the album offers a ten track mixture of traditional tunes and some of Cillian’s original compositions played with a contemporary flair. Vallely’s music is widely admired and critically acclaimed. His mastery of chanter, drones and regulators gives him a distinctive voice and a reputation as one of Irish music’s top uilleann pipers, things that are very much apparent on The Raven’s Rock.
Re: The Raven’s Rock
Sounds tasty. Really rate Cillian Vallely.
Re: The Raven’s Rock
My mini-review (killing time before the French open tennis MS SF!)
Can’t believe this is Cillian Vallely’s debut solo CD. But then there’ve been numerous Lunasa cd’s, Callan Bridge with his brother and 3 Buille CD’s. For me, apart from Callan Bridge, I’d always been a bit underwhelmed with the studio recordings he’s been on. (Stale Lunasa mostly.) Luckily, I’ve heard a fair bit of his fantastic live playing so i swiftly got my hands on this as soon as it came out.
It’s simply a very assured, mature bit of playing. He starts with the March of the Mhin na Toitean Bull, which seems to be everywhere just now, and has the confidence to just play the tune stripped back, where I’d be tempted to go whole hog and crann the tune to death.
He follows with a gorgeous set of low whistle tunes. I forgot just how good a whistle player he is - it’s deceptively nuanced playing, crisply ornamented, beautifully phrased, and he wrings such a great tone out of that whistle. There’s a lovely reprise of ‘nina’s’ that he plays on one of the Buille CD’s.
Other highlights are the Buille-esque Clifton Road set - a departure in feel to the rest. The best set in the album for me is Cnocan an Teampaill. It’s tight, dextrous and just girthy - i like the changes.
Top marks must go to the guest musicians/ accompanists. I particularly enjoyed the guitar work throughout - and whoever mastered the guitar got a great full sound without being boomy, bassy or obtrusive. You can hear the ‘snap’ to the chords.
This is most similar to Callan Bridge among his other recordings, but is a far better CD in many ways. Better sets and arrangements. Thought has gone into it. I enjoyed the showcasing of his playing, and in this setting a lot of his unique phrasing and his deft touch shines through. I only wish there was one more set.. something a bit more full-on perhaps.