Bloody Brilliant – The Malarkeys

When I hear that a band called The Malarkeys play Celtic music, I’m inclined to get my earplugs, a large case of beer and prepare for a blow. After all, “malarkey” means wind, insincere or exaggerated talk and Celtic music can be raucous and over the top.

But the group is guilty of false advertising; the music is thoughtful, sensitive and melodic. Sure, the cuts on this release describe drinking with friends, various wild goings-on and the sea. But tucked in are songs about togetherness and friendship and yearning. One notable exception is a piece about cycling, a first in Celtic, I’m thinking.

Their website says that the band blends traditional and new types of Celtic music, but I feel that there’s more here than a mashup of old and contemporary styles. The songs are carefully crafted, as though a cabinetmaker was putting little bits together to build a piece of furniture.
The Malarkeys are easy and unpretentious folk. The band is an old friend around a fire, sharing the odd story and song with that open and welcoming Maritimer (the cradle of Canadian Celtic) mindset which focusses on sharing and relationships.

It’s notable that all the musicians are well seasoned from years of toiling in other bands and endless songwriting. The music exudes ease and comfort that normally comes when people have seen it, done it and don’t care about the t-shirt.

The production values are basic, but appropriate to the genre. The aural stage isn’t cluttered with extraneous and pointless effects. I would have preferred to have the voices a little more forward from the instruments, but this is just a personal bias.

All in all, a very nice release … this one goes into my permanent collection.

Want to have your music reviewed? Contact Johnny Canuck at MusicReview@prod.shaw.ca for information on how to submit your CD.

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