While the Manx cat may be the most famous export of the Isle of Man—a piece of rock sandwiched between England and Ireland—the Gaelic group Barrule hopes to change that. It fuses three distinct musical forces—fiddle-player Tomas Callister, Jamie Smith (of Mabon) on accordion, and Adam Rhodes (Mabon and Manx band King Chiaullee) on bouzouki. The threesome brings the music of their beloved isle to the masses with their recent release, Manannan’s Cloak, named for the patron saint of their home.
The album gets off to moving start with the buoyant and pub-friendly instrumental tune, “The Wheel of Fire.” Barrule and guest artists Paul McKenna on vocals, Calum Stewart on pipes, Dylan Fowler on lap steel and Tad Sargent on bodhrán (an Irish frame drum) really shine, though, when the music slows down. Songs like “Kinnoull” and “Graih Foalsey (False Love)” transport you to the verdant Isle of Man, where life is slow and constant. Their eloquent musicianship immerses the listener in a warm feeling, like a cozy blanket or sudsy bubble bath.
While many of the songs’ meanings are challenging to decipher, the group does touch upon modern, universal themes. On “High Net Worth Individuals,” Barrule lampoons greedy, power-hungry businessmen—something American voters are dealing with this election cycle. Speaking of which, after watching the election results roll in from the latest primary, or footage of election rally insanity, Manannan’s Cloak may be the cheapest, easiest way to decompress. (Hearth Music)
This article is a part of the Our Fragile Planet April/May 2016 issue of Whole Life Times.