Celebrated traditional Irish musician and internationally acclaimed flute player and singer Nuala Kennedy has announced the release of her new studio album Noble Stranger. The album offers a road-tested collection of innovative originals and traditional songs recorded at home in Scotland with her touring band.
Accompanied by the spirited interplay between Mike Bryan’s guitar and Ian Macleod’s mandolin and supported by the tasteful percussion of Donald Hay, tracks on Noble Stranger intimately connect Kennedy’s own interests in traditional music and her progressive composition style. Kennedy has recently been calling New York City a home-away-from-home, absorbing and contributing to the City’s growing neo-folk scene. “Spending time in America has given me a greater appreciation of my own traditional musical heritage, and this renewed appreciation is reflected in the choices of some of the older material on the album. Classic traditional songs such as “My Bonny Labouring Boy” and the bonus track “Matt Hyland” are songs I have known for a long time and they seemed to re-emerge as a natural part of this record.” Not all is tradition here, a vintage Casio keyboard given to Kennedy by Norman Blake of the Glasgow band Teenage Fanclub inspired several album tracks, including the light and groovy album opening “Gabriel Sings.” “I was immediately drawn to the simplicity and transportability of the instrument and it strongly influenced the direction of the arrangements.”
Kennedy was raised playing and singing traditional music on the East coast of Ireland – an artistic area steeped in mythology with long historical ties to Scotland. Captivated by the traditional Irish and Scottish repertoire, she went on to study at the Edinburgh College of Art, mentored under fellow Irish expatriate Cathal McConnell and formed her first trio with guitarist Kris Drever and fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson and released two critically acclaimed albums. Her first two solo albums, The New Shoes and Tune In, were released through Nashville-based roots music company Compass Records Group and were universally well received. She has performed and recorded with Will Oldham (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Norwegian musicians Frode Haltli and Vegar Vårdal as well as the late Canadian composer Oliver Schroer. Kennedy is also a member of the traditional music group Oirialla performing music of her native North-East area of Ireland alongside Gerry ‘fiddle’ O’ Connor and Martin Quinn and she holds a Masters Degree in Music Performance and Composition from Newcastle University.
“Noble Stranger, you have ventured to me from the land of your fathers,” sings Kennedy on Noble Stranger’s final track “Napoleon’s Dream,” a sentiment that reflects the underlying theme of the album. In joining the burgeoning New York folk music scene, she has also imported her distinct virtuosity and strong sense of traditional Irish identity—an identity that, inspired by her many influences, continues to evolve and define new boundaries for her tradition.
European Album Release Tour
With Donald Hay (percussion) Mike Bryan (guitar) Iain Macleod (mandolin) AJ Roach (Guest Vocals)
1-2 Aug – Douglas Robertson’s Amazing Loft House Concert Series at No.42.
03 Aug – Whelan’s – Dublin Ireland
04 Aug – The Spirit Store – Dundalk
05 Aug – The Black Box – Belfast
23 Aug – The Green Note – London
28 Aug – Dunkeld Village Hall
31 Aug – Centre for Contemporary Arts — Glasgow, Scotland
North America Album Release Tour
With Kyle Sanna (guitar) and Dana Lyn (fiddle)
02 Sept – New World Festival, Chandler Vermont
05 Sept – Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center — South Carthage, Maine
06 Sept – Unity College Center for the Performing Arts — Maine
07 Sept – Stone Mountain Centre for the Arts — Brownfield, Maine
08 Sept – New England Youth Theatre — Brattleboro, Vermont
12 Sept – Night Town Jazz Club — Cleveland, Ohio
13 Sept – The Ark – Ann Arbor, MI
14 Sept – Irish Cultural & Heritage Center of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, WI
15 Sept – Old Town School of Folk Music — Chicago, IL
16 Sept – Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN
21 Sept- Common Ground on the Hill Baltimore Concert Series – Baltimore, MD
22 Sept – North Madison Congregational Church – Madison, CT
26 Sept – Burren Backroom Sessions — Somerville, MA
Noble Stranger is released via Compass, and is available 20th August UK, 28 August USA