Covering Our Tracks
(self-produced, 2001;
Greentrax, 2002)

Covering Our Tracks gives a sample of Colcannon's work, taking tracks from their first three CDs. It is an excellent sampling of what they have done and shows off their strengths.

The musicians who play on the CD are John Munro (guitar, octave mandolin and vocals), Mike O'Callaghan (guitar and vocals), Lorna Parker (fiddle and vocals), Sian O'Callaghan (fiddle and vocals), Don Holdernesse (bass, keyboards, percussion and vocals) and, last but certainly not least, Kat Kraus with her gorgeous voice. (This Colcannon is a folk band from Australia, by the way, and should not be confused -- although they no doubt will be -- with the Irish band with the same name.)

The songs are beautiful and it is sometimes hard to explain why the songs work so well. The simplest way I guess is they work because the elements that form the songs are all good. The vocals are amazing. For instance, "Lonesome Road" is sung a cappella and they manage to paint the feel with their voices. "I'm Fine" starts off with a quiet flow, picking up strength and waxing before it builds up to the end. They also do a wonderful job covering "Caledonia" by Dougie MacLean.

"Galileo" is a rather interesting song that looks through time at things we have done. Then comes a lovely violin duet in the form of "Ashokan Farewell." It sets a melancholic tone that is echoed in "There Once was Love."

"You'll Never Be the Sun" is a wonderfully soft song that floats gently; there is so much heart in the song it takes my breathe away. They reshape "Boat on the River" and end up with a beautiful folk ballad. "Western Highway" is another gentle piece; the guitar play throughout the song is amazing. And then they do a song I am partial to, "The Rose," and the harmonies on the song are lovely.

Next comes a song of remembrance and looking back in "Were You There." Then we are treated to another sample of the harmonies they can weave when they sing a cappella in "After the Goldrush." "Auld Lang Syne" is done very well, with a rich arrangement. "Evening" comes in dancing, elegant and sweeping across the dance floor, while "The Ballad of Charles Davenport" is a graceful ballad that feels older than it is.

There is a rough strength in "The Roving Dies Hard," which marks it as very different from most of the other songs on this CD. "From Clare to Here" is a song full of longing, and a sense of being far apart. The CD ends off with "Ripples in the Rockpool," a rollicking good song that is charged with energy.

Covering Our Tracks is a beautiful CD full of wonderful music and songs. The songs blend so well that they are a treat to listen to. Enjoy!

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]
Rambles: 12 January 2002

Colcannon to an Irish person used to mean potatoes, cabbage and parsnips mixed together, a dish usually popular around Halloween. Having heard this CD, it has changed to a group of accomplished singers and musicians that should be consumed at any time of year.

The CD in question is a compilation from their first four releases. James Taylor's "The Lonesome Road" will set you tingling in an unaccompanied version that opens up the words. "Caledonia" is a song that has been covered by a wide variety of singers but few will have given it the feeling evident in the vocals by Kat Kraus here. When joined by the voices of other band members great sound becomes exquisite.

"Ashokan Farewell" as used in the TV series The Civil War is one of those tunes that haunts you for hours after hearing it. It is all the more potent when we realise that it is a new tune and not drawn from centuries past. Colcannon does an excellent job on it.

The joy of this CD is the way songs that are familiar emerge with new clarity and meaning. Kat Kraus has a voice that draws new soul from any song. Donagh Long's excellent piece of writing, "You'll Never Be the Sun," is a case in point. Likewise, many of us felt that Bette Midler was the singer for "The Rose." Give Colcannon a chance and you may change your mind.

Never in all the CDs that I have listened to have I found a single group that has improved on songs that I thought were impossible to better. Track after track here prove me wrong. Even Neil Young is shaded when this group sings "After the Goldrush." I never heard Robbie Burns sing "Auld Lang Syne," obviously, but I doubt if he was more melodic than this version. Another folk poet represented here is Ralph McTell. How a man in London could write such a perceptive song of emigration from Ireland, as "Clare to Here," is still a mystery answered only by the word genius. I thought the Fureys were the only people to give it the feeling needed but Colcannon comes very close.

The joy of this CD is that every song has a credit for composer and at the same time has a sound of permanence and tradition. There are classic songs here that will be the traditional songs of a future century and if anyone hears this album at that time they will think that they have struck gold. Colcannon is a group to be listened to not only in their excellent singing but also in their choice of material. These 18 tracks are gems.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 1 March 2003