CD review by Tony Smith
As ‘burach’ is Gaelic for delving or burrowing in the earth, deeper seems like a good term to describe a band’s later album.
Deeper appeared in 2000, following earlier albums in 1995 and 1997, all on the Greentrax label and there has been a release in 2006 as well.
Burach is a six piece band of the Scottish folk rock variety.
The members are Ali Cherry (lead vocals), Eoghain Anderson (drums and percussion), Doug Anderson (banjo, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars), Sandy Brechin (accordion and backing vocals), Greg Borland (fiddle and backing vocals) and Roy Waterston (bass and backing vocals).
Tracks include, ‘And Still There’, ‘Beautiful Blues’, ‘Keep On Shining’, ‘Sweet Thing’, ‘A Turn Up For The Books’, ‘Shadow of the Night’, ‘Flora Whistles a Scanadanavian Tune’, ‘Left Unsaid’, ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Knot Quite Silverstone…’.
The black and white photographs of the group against various backgrounds suggest the urban setting for Burach’s eclectic mix of music.
However, there is nothing heavy or hard about either the lyrics of the songs or the playing of the instruments.
Indeed, there is a stylistic lightness about these tracks which puts the band beyond the folk rock stereotype.
There is a very nice balance between the songs, mainly by Ali Cherry, but with a contribution by Roy Waterston on his own ‘The Life and Times of Johnny Hattersfield’, and the instrumentals.
There is also an excellent combination at work here with the accordion forming a natural bridge between the backing bass and percussion and the melody instruments and voices.
If you enjoy accordion, you will be hooked on this album.
Ali Cherry’s voice has a lightness which makes the words accessible and a command of delivery which lifts the songs beyond the fairly mundane lyrics.
‘Smile, just smile at me, the sweetest thing can touch, deeper, far deeper now, for all who’ve loved too much’ seems to be the only reference to the album title.
When Cherry sings ‘Won’t you come home soon, I need someone to keep me warm’ the gentle blues tone is unmistakeable.
A feature of the sleeve notes which has great appeal, is the witty introduction to the instrumentals.
In ‘The Birds Set’ for example, a Frazzled Buzzard turns out to be a plastic bag on sober reflection, and Niamh’s Capers is included because composer, Gerry O’Connor, played in a band called The Wild Geese.
Accordionist, Sandy Brechin, has a couple of originals called, The Poetry Punch-Up and 10-NA, attributed to an American tourist mistaking Iona for the name of a highway.
Fiddler, Greg(or) Borland, has a tribute to Ronan the Librarian and remembers improvising in Knot on a G-String.
It would do a disservice to Burach to pigeon-hole their music.
The Gaelic folk roots are obvious, but the band soars into original territory.
The harmony in the tracks on Deeper is clear and as with any ensemble that enjoys playing together, the effect on the listener is both instantaneous and deep.