MALINKY
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MALINKY

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"Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine"

When lauded Scots band Malinky lost two of their members, including the superb singer and songwriter Karine Polwart, many wondered how, or even if, they'd survive. A little time has passed, and they've returned, sporting a pair of new faces, singer/cellist Fiona Hunter and multi-instrumentalist Ewan MacPherson. And in truth, they don't seem to have suffered at all. Hunter is a fine, expressive vocalist who brings a real warmth to the group, who show they're on form by immediately diving into an epic "Edom O Gordon," followed by "Clerk Saunders" and the Border ballad "Hughie the Graham," quite a chunk as an opening salvo. But they do it proud. The opener, along with "The Bonnie Banks O Fordie" (possibly the best cut here) have that slight Balkans feel that's one of their trademarks, while the others offer an understated power--indeed, there's a resignation about "Clerk Saunders" that brings a new shine to an old chestnut. They've certainly kept their instrumental chops, and flaunt them on "The Scotia Set" and "Inertia Reels" (which move in sprightly fashion). Canada's David Francey guests to good effect on his own "Flowers of Saskatchewan, proving again that he's a songwriter of startling brilliance. The original "The Sun's Cousin" doesn't fare quite as well as the rest of the material, but they close with a wistful "My Ain Countrie" that marks a loving end to a telling album. The new incarnation of Malinky is alive and doing very, very well. - Summer 2006 by Chris Nickson


"SONGLINES The World Music Magazine"

**** [four stars]
"Not just back on their feet, but dancing"

This is an important album for the Scottish-based band Malinky, given that it is released in the wake of two stalwart members - award-winning singer Karine Polwart and box player Leo McCann - leaving the band last year. On the evidence shown here however, Malinky are still in fine fettle and confidently moving on. Remaining founder members Steve Byrne and Mark Dunlop both have very good voices, as well as a range of instrumental skills, while lyrical fiddle player Jon Bews had already made a considerable impact on the band. Newcomers Fiona Hunter (vocals and cello) and Ewan MacPherson (mandolin and guitar) have both settled into the band amazingly effectively. Malinky are one of the liveliest interpreters of the Scottish tradition and this album will underpin their reputation for inspired singing and contemporary instrumental arrangements. Few other bands are able to deliver so apparently effortlessly. Although the album revolves around nine songs, there are three instrumental sets too, bringing further variety - not least through Dunlop's bodhrán and Hunter's cello, both of which add considerable resonance. Byrne's voice turns 'Flowers of Saskatchewan', a song by Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey, into a highlight. Perhaps the most characteristic song of all though is the traditional ballad 'The Bonnie Banks o Fordie', originally combined with a Swedish tune, in which Hunter's pure vocals are excitingly complemented by the upbeat instrumentation. All in all it's an album which won't disappoint.


- May 2006 by Andy Jurgis


"PENGUIN EGGS, Spring 2006"

Boasting a fresh new line-up since 2002's 3 Ravens; The Unseen Hours finds Scotland's Malinky in most excellent form. Acoustic-based traditional or traditionally-influenced songs and tunes rule the day. The singing is great; alternating between the lead vocals of Steve Byrne, Mark Dunlop and new member Fiona Hunter, all of whom have distinctive and memorable voices. The instrumentals are skillfully played and brilliantly arranged, featuring a heady mix of bouzouki, guitar, whistles, bodhrán, fiddle, cello, mandolin and tenor banjo. Contemporary rhythms creep in here and there but never overwhelm the piece or spoil the trad feel of the album. Tastefulness and restraint are in evidence throughout. Highlights include a suitably spooky Edom O Gordon, a rousing Nova Scotia set including a Donald Angus Beaton tune, and a Scandinavian influenced version of the murder ballad The Bonnie Banks O Fordie set to a new tune. Recommended. [By Tim Readman] - Canada's leading folk and roots magazine


"May be the finest young Scottish band since Silly Wizard"

This [group] may be the finest young Scottish band since Silly Wizard. Its gentle lilt, sly wit, and sweeping melodicism are as intoxicating as a fine single malt. - Boston Globe


"Malinky should be one of the folk bands of 2009"

Some good bands emerge in a blaze of publicity, while others keep plugging away for years before receiving the recognition they deserve. Malinky fall firmly into that second category. They have been playing (with different lineups) for a decade, and this is their fourth album. But though they have toured the US, and established a sizeable following back home in Scotland, they are not exactly folk celebrities south of the border. This subtle and varied set ought to change all that. The five band members include three lead singers, and the material (in English rather than Gaelic) ranges from a light and slinky reworking of the traditional Pad the Road Wi Me to more recent songs such as When Margaret Was Eleven, a thoughtful story of childhood and the damage of war, or Archie Fisher's postwar Clydeside lament, The Shipyard Apprentice, with impressive vocals from Fiona Hunter. Their playing is as impressive as their singing, matching fiddle, whistle, cello, bouzouki and guitar on light but rousing instrumental tracks. After all these years, Malinky should be one of the folk bands of 2009. [Robin Denselow] - The Guardian (UK)


"One of the most imaginative of Scots-language bands"

Scotland on Sunday, Oct 2008, by Norman Chalmers
Flower And Iron * * * *
The opening sung dialogue, to a charming original tune, contrasts Steve Byrne and Fiona Hunter (two of the band's five singers) in the old northeast favourite 'Pad The Road' and sets the varied tone of the latest incarnation of one of the most imaginative of Scots-language bands. They are fine instrumentalists all, and eschew vocals in the lilting 'Cows And Cottongrass' and the cello-driven waltz 'Ruaraidh Mor'. Mark Dunlop mixes metaphor and Irish myth in contemporary (well, 1960s) song, adding another dimension to a lovely album. - Scotland on Sunday


"A class act...just gets better each time you play it"

Malinky have been performing for ten years and this is their fourth album for Greentrax, containing songs and tunes from all over Scotland and from ireland. the current lineup features Fiona Hunter (vocals, cello), Steve Byrne (vocals, bouzoukis, guitars, Jew's harps, shruti box), Mark Dunlop (vocals, whistles, bodhrán, flute), Mike Vass (fiddle, guitar) and Dave Wood (guitar, bouzouki).

A notable strength of theirs is the richness of the vocals: all five sing and three of them take turns on lead vocal. They also possess a ealth of multi-instrumental talent, which they put to full use with inventive and varied arrangements, ringing the changes in musical texture, using creative harmonies and constantly bringing in fresh instruments throughout a song or set of tunes. Malinky are a class act, and the achieve the quality of musical accomplishment previously associated with the likes of Ossian, the Whistlebinkies and Ceolbeg. The elegance and complexity of their arrangements lend power and gravitas to all that they do. fiona Hunter's cello and Steve Byrne's bouzouki brilliance extend Malinky's sound palette well beyond that of most folk bands.

This album just gets better each time you play it. Broomfield Hill has a powerful Scots vocal performance from Fiona, with an imaginative edgy musical arrangement by Steve Byrne featuring didgeridoo, shruit box, Jew's harps, bouzouki, fiddle, guitar and bodhrán. When Margaret Was Eleven is a show-stopping song about the impact of war and imperialism on children. In this sonorous elegiac arrangement, the cello comes into its own, alongside fiddle, whistle, guitar and bouzouki, and Steve Byrne's vocal has an attractive vulnerability and honesty. Malinky's version of The Road Tae Drumleman (sung to the late Tony Cuffe's tune) is a joyous and moving act of love, tenderly performed with Fiona on vocal.
In the forthcoming Scottish Traditional Music Awards for 2008, Malinky have been nominated for Scottish Folk Band of the Year and Fiona Hunter for Scots Singer of the Year. [Paul Matheson] - fRoots (UK)


"Another gem of Scottish folk"

Irish Music Magazine, Dec 2008, by Nicky Rossiter
An odd name, maybe, but you know the old street rhyme about Skinny Malinky Long Legs surely? This young Scottish band have done it again: “producing great music”, was my initial jotted note about Malinky’s latest CD.
The dozen tracks on offer here give full vent to this talented quintet and allow each to excel in the rendition of songs old and new. They have a beautiful gentle delivery that is evident from the first bars of the first song, Pad the Road Wi Me through to the final note of The Road tae Drumleman but the album is not all about highways.

The vocals of Fiona Hunter are to the fore on the lovely old ballad The Broomfield Hill with some very clever backing streaming in and out in a weave of magic. Next up we get a lovely anti-war song from the pen of the prolific Pete St John. This is the haunting When Margaret was Eleven taking a child’s eye view of fathers going away to war and even more poignantly coming home. The Shipyard Apprentice gives us another excellent slice of real life, this time in peacetime but just as powerful.

We get a musical epic of more than seven minutes on the wonderful story song of Sweet Willie and Fair Annie, which marries lyrics from 18th century Scotland with 20th century music from New England. Another lovely folk tale emerges on The Ploughboy and the Maid giving us that old story common to the tradition but given new life in the Malinky rendition. The set Why Should I? is unusual in that it combines two instrumentals but with a song in the middle.

The band lull us gently to the end with a beautiful song that although it sounds ancient is actually a product of the 20th century - The Road tae Drumleman. Malinky have produced another gem of Scottish folk with this CD complemented as it is with a well-produced insert giving lyrics and background notes to the songs. - Irish Music Magazine


Discography

FLOWER & IRON (2008), Greentrax Recordings Ltd / Mad River Records
THE UNSEEN HOURS (2005), Greentrax Recordings Ltd / Mad River Records
3 RAVENS (2002), Greentrax Recordings Ltd
LAST LEAVES (2000), Greentrax Recordings Ltd

Photos

Bio

Few Scottish folk bands have made such an impact in recent years as Malinky. Born out of the Edinburgh session scene of the late '90s, the band soon emerged as the leading young group focusing on Scots song. Over the last decade, Malinky have gone on to become one of the most distinctive and accomplished bands on the Scottish folk scene, with four increasingly-acclaimed albums under their belt and an ever-expanding tour roster across the globe.

Malinky's hallmark song-based repertoire is performed by two superb lead vocalists, and arrayed with tastefully inventive instrumentation, uniting seasoned maturity with sparkling freshness. With three folklore and traditional music graduates amongst their ranks, Malinky combine a deep knowledge of tradition with a subtly creative approach, described by Scotland on Sunday as, "one of the most imaginative of Scots-language bands", breathing renewed life into centuries-old ballads from Scotland's north-east, alongside original songwriting and fiddle tunes.

2009-10 saw the band entertain crowds in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Ireland and the UK, as well as numerous tours of the USA, in the process being described as, "maybe the finest young Scottish band since Silly Wizard" (Boston Globe), performing "Scots music at its most evocative", (Mojo).

With their, "beautiful gentle delivery" (Irish Music Magazine) and commitment to understated, acoustic instrumentation, Malinky need no gimmicks, preferring to believe in the strength and power of traditional songs in themselves to communicate their story.

fRoots labelled Malinky, "a class act, and they achieve the quality of musical accomplishment previously associated with the likes of Ossian, the Whistlebinkies and Ceolbeg." Perhaps R2 (formerly Rock'n'Reel) hit the nail on the head in the conclusion to its five-star review of the band's 2008 release, Flower & Iron: "If indeed it is the destiny of every child born in Scotland to be a folk musician, Malinky should be added to the milk."