The Gloaming – song by song

The Gloaming live at The Union Chapel, London. Photography: York Tillyer

The Gloaming are Iarla O’Lionaird, Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh, Dennis Cahill, Martin Hayes, Thomas Bartlett.

Their eponymous album is available in beautiful 24-bit audio on Society of Sound

1. Song 44: Adapted from an 800-year-old Irish poem about a man who sees the woman he loves in his dreams. It begins spare and spooky with spectral, beautiful Gaelic singing. A fiddle is introduced which soon draws itself over the song until it climaxes with soaring strings.

2. Allistrum’s March: An instrumental based around an old Irish march, it is built around a series of lyrical, tightly structured fiddle lines.

3. Freedom: This song is equal parts Iarla & Thomas, built around the inchworm, earworm-like piano melody which was originally heard in a brief interlude on Doveman’s first record for Brassland. The lyrics are adapted from Irish poet Seán ó Riordáin’s “Saoirse,” and speak to the struggle between individuality and serving a tribal code, between creative freedom and containment.

4 Old Bush: This song offers a break in the action — as guitar and hardanger fiddle spend more time scraping along than they do building momentum, until the last two minutes when they begin to breath in unison, growing into a propulsive reel.

5 Hunting the Squirrel: An old jig, played far more slowly than it would be traditionally, a hallmark of Hayes’ style.

6. Necklace of Wrens: A vocal number with words by Limerick poet Michael Hartnett

7. The Girl Who Broke My Heart: A short fiddle and hardanger instrumental which borrows equally from reels and notions of contemporary classical music.

8. The Sailor’s Bonnet: A well known, almost irritatingly ubiquitous reel, here broken down by Hayes into its most basic building blocks, demonstrating the simple elegance of the composition. After a few more reels, played at a more traditional tempo, the band returns to the Sailors Bonnet, now played at full blast.

9. Opening Set: This 16-minute instrumental is the centre piece of the album. Each musician in the ensemble takes their turn to shine. The longing voice of Iarla is answered by the hardanger and paced by minimalist piano lines, then the guitar and fiddle work the song into a storm. Brooding, sweet and slow then rhythmic and cathartic, it’s an epic built up layer by layer — like the canvas of an old master painting.

10: Samradh Samradh: First documented around Dublin in the 1730s, this is a song written for the Gaelic festival known as Bealtaine which marks the beginning of summer, and is celebrated April 30 to May 1 — sunset to sunset — with the lighting of bonfires and the decoration with flowers. An appropriate way to mark the blooming of a new musical force.







  • Bruce Hattersley says:

    I am disappointed that so many downloads are only available on 24 bit and also disappointed that I cannnot hear any sample tracks.

  • Michael Rogers says:

    Society of Sound website is beautiful and classic but we really should be able to hear samples of the tracks. It seems some albums do have a sample song but most don’t. I don’t want to waste a download of my subscription. You have to go to other sites to try to hear music from an album. Please think about fixing this.

    Again, everything else wonderful!

  • David says:

    I’m with Michael. I signed up for a trial and I am a huge fan of Peter Gabriel and have never been disappointed in his Real World albums I’ve bought. Still, I’d prefer to hear at least a snippet of an album before committing to a purchase.

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