Nuala Kennedy
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Nuala Kennedy

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2002 | MAJOR

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2002
Band Folk Acoustic




"Nuala Kennedy-Noble Stranger (Compass Records 2012)"

Nuala Kennedy is an Irish singer and flute player who is going from strength to strength. Her first release was primarily traditionally influenced, whereas her second album stretched a little more into other musical styles. She released Enthralled with Oliver Schroer just before his untimely death a couple of years ago, which showed her to be a match for his musical adventurousness. On Noble Stranger she shows that she has now developed a sound that is unmistakably her own. It is also the sound of an artist coming of age.
Her band, Donald Hay (percussion), Mike Bryan (guitar) and Iain Macleod (mandolin and banjo), provides exemplary accompaniment, while her flute and voice do the rest. She is an exceptional flautist but it is her voice that truly captivates on this collection. Her delivery is wonderfully expressive and her use of vibrato and ornamentation serves to pull the listener closer, as she delivers both melody and story in compelling fashion. She also adds some ear-catching lines to songs like Gabriel Sings and My Bonny Labouring Boy on an old Casio keyboard, which are both quirky and charming.
This is an outstanding CD from an exceptional talent that will satisfy those with a taste for traditional Celtic music, as well as anyone who enjoys musical innovation. - Penguin Eggs Magazine, Canada by Tim Steadman

""Evocative, zesty and magical melodies""

Her third release on Nashville's Compass Records. Nuala is a singer and flute player with an engaging vocal identity, founded in traditional Irish sources, but alive with world music influences. Nuala hails from Dundalk, Co. Louth but a move to Scotland has broadened her musical horizons.

Following considerable touring and recording with trio Fine Friday, Nuala released her acclaimed solo CD The New Shoes. This brought her new partnerships with Will Oldham, composer Oliver Schroer and Oirialla. Her latest album is compelling and delightful, showcasing her ability to absorb the past and reflect the contemporary in a rounded, satisfying set.
- Musician's Union Magazine UK

"Nuala Kennedy, Noble Stranger"

When I think of Nuala Kennedy, I tend to think of her as a flute player first and foremost.

It's a reasonable manner of thinking, since Kennedy consistently demonstrates a deft hand with the flute -- she is easily one of the top performers in the Celtic world, and listening to her go to work is a sublime experience.

But Noble Stranger, Kennedy's latest CD, reminds me that this Irish-born Scottish resident has one of the loveliest voices you're likely to encounter. It's almost criminal to have so much talent. But it's a good kind of crime.

Noble Stranger is as much a pop album as it is Celtic. Sure, her Irish roots and Scottish influences are on full display, particularly in the traditional tracks included here, but Kennedy infuses her music with a cheerful, contemporary "neo-folk" sound that makes it accessible to a broad range of listeners. She boldly makes the tradition her own.

For all her sweet and airy vocals, the album can be surprisingly dark at times. For every "Gabriel Sings," the album's delightful first track, or the lovely and loving "Lonely City," there's a "Lord Duneagle," in which our heroine dies of loneliness and her true love follows from heartbreak. "The Banks of the Roses," which I swear I heard several times thinking it charming and romantic, is actually a murder ballad most foul -- and the slayer seems to get away with it, too! (For the record, I've known the latter song for years, but never with this particular lyric set; in my experience, it usually ends quite happily for the couple involved!)

I wish I knew the backstory to "Napoleon's Dream," which is probably my favorite track on the album; unfortunately, the notes that accompanied the review copy don't explain its origins. It makes a hero of the French tyrant Bonaparte ... although I have read suggestions that Napoleon was a hero to the Irish, who hoped he would free them from British sovereignty.

The flute is also on display here, and listeners will enjoy several instrumental tracks. "Asturias" -- there's a part one and two -- is easily my favorite non-vocal selection.

Kennedy recorded this album over a week in Scotland with percussionist Donald Hay, 10-string mandolinist Iain Macleod, guitarist Mike Bryan and guest vocalist AJ Roach. The group of musicians has a tight, well-practiced sound that is pleasing start to finish; the percussion in particular adds a fresh, appealing sound to underscore Kennedy's voice. - Rambles, Online Traditional Music Magazine

"LIVE MUSIC REVIEW: Nuala Kennedy ?Review of performance at Black Box, Belfast?Sunday 5th August 2012? By John Higgins,"

The Scottish based County Louth singer and flautist boasts a 'minimal, decorative and utterly beautiful' sound.
Singer and flautist Nuala Kennedy and her Scottish three piece band slip quietly onto the stage and launch into a spirited interpretation of 'Matt Hyland', a bonus track on her new album Noble Stranger.
Building on the basis of brushed drums, mandolin and guitar, and Kennedy's high, clear and beautifully measured vocal, the song slowly builds, becoming more intricate and ornamental, lead lines flitting dazzlingly through the musical mesh.
A vintage Casio synthesizer appears among the traditional instruments, but there's no incongruity. The room is filled with rich, melodic power. There is something going on here that ties Kennedy into a tradition of strident folk experimentation: from the Collins sister's 'Love, Death and the Lady' to Alasdair Robert's recent exploratory readings of traditional songs. - Culture Northern Ireland 2012

"Scotland on Sunday - Pick of this Weeks Releases"

Mercurial flute player and singer Nuala Kennedy performs here on a digital keyboard, the latest voice in her rhythmically tight band (including Iain Macleod on mandolin and banjo; Mike Bryan, guitar; Donald Hay, drums) which takes her ?music off in interesting new directions. Songs dominate, ?all with groovy loops, fills ?and counterpoint, while the instrumental numbers set flute and mandolin on architectonic explorations far from the traditional Irish bog.
Cheeky, dynamically textured and full of ideas, this distinctive sound is new but already fully formed. - Scotland on Sunday Broadsheet

"Album Review - Nuala Kennedy / Noble Stranger"

This is Nuala Kennedy’s third solo album and is a superb exploration of traditional music mixed with the best of the folk tradition, all wrapped up with a catchiness that some pop stars would die for. To say that the arrangements are adventurous would be an understatement. They are imaginative, well constructed and layered with vocal harmonies and instrumentals that would leave many artists in the shade. Love at the Swimming Pool is a great example of this, showing just what can be achieved when you are at a creative peak.
Intros shimmer with inventiveness and Nuala’s vocals have matured to the point where she inhabits and lives through the songs she sings. Accompaniment is by percussionist Donald Hay, guitarist Mike Bryann with Iain Macleod on mandolin and banjo and Euan Burton on bass. It’s a mature modern album grounded in Nuala's love of traditional music. The songs are always engaging and the arrangements are simply outstanding including two instrumental numbers calledActurias Part One and Part Two. A couple of genuine traditional songs are also among the tracks including Paddy's Lamentation, The Banks of the Roses. Inspiring, creative and thoroughly enjoyable by an artist that has hit gold.
Listen and Buy : - Trad Connect

"Noble Stranger, Nuala Kennedy 2012 Studio album"

You know that feeling you sometimes get when you listen to an album, and you try to work out how it’s possible to not be happy while listening to it? Well, Noble Stranger, Nuala Kennedy’s third release, invokes that feeling. Like any good Celtic album should.
Nuala grew up on the East Coast of Ireland, but has recently been contributing to New York City’s neo-folk scene - something which shows in most, if not all, of the tracks. The style of neo-folk (a recent example for those who don’t know the genre might be Sam Lee’s debut album) can be "interesting" at times, but Nuala’s style of composition and arranging doesn’t make it difficult to listen to.
The melodies that Nuala is singing are contemplated by the band’s playing. Everything just fits together nicely, with a touch of modern composition thrown on top.
The opening track, for example, was inspired by a retro Casio keyboard. You read that right: a whole track inspired by a keyboard. So you end up with this eclectic mash up of a folk ballad Nuala wrote, surrounded by something approaching muzac. And you know what? It hits the spot.
There’s a selection of instrumentals as well, which range from slow airs to reels. Nuala’s flute playing is brilliant to listen to, and the band’s accompanying is just good fun. Asturias, a two track instrumental, ends with a tune that Nuala can basically show off in, with racing scales and the traditional Irish style of "I can play 40 notes in one second".
This album makes you happy, even if you’re not a neo-folk fan. You’ll spend your time dancing along in your chair to the reels, or just sitting there with this ridiculous grin on your face without any real reason as to why it’s there. It just tickles you in the right place and for that reason alone, it can’t be recommended highly enough. Go and get it, you won’t be disappointed. - BRIGHT YOUNG FOLK UK, by Patrick Rose

"Hibernian Indie Folk, Anyone? ****"

Nuala Kennedy, Irish singer and flute player, adopted Scots lass and now a New Yorker is not an artist to be pigeon holed.Noble Stranger her third solo release builds on the experimentation of her previous releases, adding an indie American vibe to an already intoxicating mix. Joining Kennedy on the album is a varied bunch including percussionist Donald Hay, guitarist Mike Bryan and mandolinist Iain MacLeod; it is in the combination of acoustic and electronic that Noble Stranger delights. 
Kennedy's playful eclecticism is perfectly captured by the groovy opener 'Gabriel Sings', a swirling piece of indie electronica coloured with the hip bass of Mario Caribe and a vintage Casio keyboard (borrowed from Teenage Fanclub's singer Norman Blake).

Traditional tunes are given a fresh, lively makeover; Lord Duneagle is delivered with a pounding dark funk whilst 'Asturias (Part Two)' sees some bagpipe tunes from northern Spain flirt outrageously with the mandolin of ex-Shoogelnifty man Iain MacLeod.

Whilst the majority of the tracks are reinterpreted trad tunes, Kennedy shows herself to be a gifted writer and composer, evident in the country-inspired 'Lonely City', which sees her duet with the hauntingly tremulous vocals of AJ Roach. Kennedy's flute playing is always enchanting, most notably in the sweet instrumental 'Love at the Swimming Pool'. This is a frisky, excitingly vital and wonderfully original album which highlights Kennedy's experimental nature - well worth a listen. 
Track to Try: Gabriel Sings - Songlines Magazine 2012


Oirialla - Oirialla (LaLugh Records 2013) 

Nuala Kennedy 'Noble Stranger' (Compass Records, September 2012)

Oliver Schroer and Nuala Kennedy 'Enthralled' (Borealis Records, January 2012)

Nuala Kennedy 'Tune In' (Compass Records, March 2010)

Nuala Kennedy 'The New Shoes' (Compass Records, April 2007)



born and Edinburgh resident, Nuala Kennedy is an internationally renowned
singer, flute
player and composer of remarkable finesse, fearless of the unknown


Scottish Folk Band of the year nominees the Nuala Kennedy Band
features drummer Donald
Hay, guitarist Mike Bryan and fiddler Shona Mooney. Described as
vital and wonderfully original" (
2013) they

toured the world extensively in recent years, in support of their
award-winning 2012 album Noble Stranger released on
Nashville's Compass Records.

'Noble Stranger' was recorded live in studio in the Scottish borders and was very well received for it's spontaneity and originality. It has seen Nuala grace the cover of Irish Music Magazine and Sing Out!  The Nuala Kennedy Band has been receiving plaudits around the world for its fresh, dynamic sound:

"Cheeky, and full of ideas." ****Scotland on Sunday 2012

"frisky, excitingly vital and wonderfully original" ****Songlines 2013

Band Members