is a group that has been playing since 2005 and their experience shows! A Dutch band with their roots firmly planted in a base of Irish folk, they have no problem mixing it with other styles and genres, and making it sound awesome. But to prove their excellence in the Irish scene, they are the only Dutch band ever to have been invited to
(2013), a large international festival and competition for Irish Folk musicians.
This year they have released their fifth album, The Cure For Anything. The band describe it as showing their nine year journey to find their musical power and identity. If that is the case it certainly sounds like it has been an interesting journey.
The first track is called
It immediately shows that combination of musical styles, as it is definitely Irish, but with lots of Bluegrass sprinkled on top. A combination that makes sense, as modern day Irish folk and Bluegrass share the same origin. But that is not all there is to this song. If you are a visual thinker, like I am, it is very easy to see a story unfold during this song. Chasing someone down the streets and narrow alleys of Abu Dhabi isn’t a very far fetched idea and that adds just a little middle eastern touch to it all.
Next up is the song
Where the previous track conjured up images of a fast pursuit through a busy city, this song makes me think of a camp-fire on a beach, between an forest and a lake, dancing and singing and sharing this song with friends. During this song they sing “Harmony Glen is forever our love”. Well, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I certainly love it!
The third track of the album picks up momentum again, as
Lay Down Rosie
blasts through the speakers. The vocal in this song is a bit more raw, which fits perfectly with the overall sound. The flute play adds just that touch of light that makes this song more cheerful.
When listening to
The Charlatans Barnacle
it’s hard to choose between taking a sip of good old moonshine or some fine Irish whiskey. But either way, the song is a feast for the ears and it feels like a party! The song seamlessly moves into…
again a different musical style, but very fitting. A song with very soothing vocals that allows everybody that jumped on the dance-floor during the previous track to pair up and do a little one on one dancing.
Pleasant and Delightful
is very much that, pleasant and delightful to hear. A storytelling, acapella sung, accompanied by sound of the sea shore, it is very easy to close your eyes, envision this song being sung in a harbor pub and let your emotions run free.
Flight of the Mimosa
is one of those rare songs where there is a lot of energy from the start, yet is does feel like it’s continually building up. It gives a very “Irish Traditional” feel, but it incorporates a middle eastern atmosphere without any problem.
Rest My Little Son
is a song from a mother to her sleeping son. It starts off very touching and emotional, but as the song progresses the music becomes very powerful. It speaks of the darker sides of life, but also that we can make a difference. This song went straight through my ears into my soul. I would easily call it inspiring.
I can imagine
Another Summer’s Morning
being played fifty or a hundred years from now as a “traditional”. To me it has all the elements of the great songs of the past and I can envision versions of this song being played by a duo in a pub or an orchestra on a massive stage. The harmony towards the end of the song is amazing and invites you to sing along at the top of your lungs.
Breath of Pale
calmly follows, bringing an overwhelmingly warm feeling. Definitely a song to enjoy with your eyes closed, letting your mind wander.
After a deep song like Breath of Pale, hang on to your boots as
makes you want to jump up and dance again! The essence of the song is “No matter how far I am, don’t come to find me, I will come home one day”. Though the song speaks of past experiences, and correcting them, it’s great to shout along to when heading home from work, or especially when heading to or from a festival!
Midwinter’s night starts off feeling very medieval. The sound is very different from that of the rest of the album. However, if you only heard this song you would think that this is the type of music Harmony Glen normally plays, as it sounds very natural. Halfway through the song it seamlessly moves into other styles, more modern, then somewhat Eastern European, and then back to the medieval feel. An awesome display of musicality!
Then, as if to remind everyone, the album turns back to the Irish roots with
A fast reel, I don’t know if there is anyone that is capable of sitting still during a song like this. Feet of flames anyone?!
Harmony Glen on this performance:
“This is us playing Thelonious’ Fancy at the Senior Céili Band Competition, Fleadh Cheoil 2013 in Derry. It was amazing how those 2500 people couldn’t resist and started clapping and cheering 🙂 We had so much fun!”
comes the sun. Well, there is no darkness on this album, but there sure is a lot of sunshine! The song is very uplifting and it is very fitting to have this as last track on the album, because you’ll keep smiling for hours after this. Whatever happens, after darkness comes the sun!
On the website of the band they speak of nine years of ups and downs. Well, the only ups and downs on this album are in the form of energy. The variation of the tracks is amazing and together they deliver a very balanced album. The quality of the tracks starts off very high and remains at that extraordinary level from start to finish, no downs there. I do wonder however. Even though Irish folk is the basis on which Bluegrass and ultimately all Country music is built, these two styles have their own fan-base. Does the band appeal more to one than the other? Or perhaps they can bring both together. Either way, I would think that Harmony Glen is due for a massive North American tour, as this is the home of Country music and of course home base for a huge group of Irish descendants as well as other Folk-lovers. So if you’re in North America, contact your local radio stations and events organizers!! Let’s help a great band get a great tour!
Although all of the tracks have their appeal and their own beauty, picking a favourite track was actually rather easy. I absolutely love how
Rest My Little Son
conveys the love of a mother and how it touched my heart. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the song is just inspiring!
This album plays a lot in my house or car, especially whenever I need a shot of happy energy. I would suggest that everyone buys the CD. If not for the amazing music, then to help you lift your spirits whenever you need it!
Omnia – Earth Warrior (2014)
The name of latest album by the Dutch Paganfolk band
leaves very little to the imagination.
is an album dedicated to the fight to protect and save the Earth. This resonates not only in the music and the lyrics on the album but also in the fact that part of the proceeds from this album will be donated to
an organization that the members of Omnia hold very close to their hearts.
The first song Weltschmerz, which can be translated as Worldpain or World fatigue, immediately sets the tone for the intent of this album. A beautiful deep piano song, it definitely makes you focus your attention on the album.
It is followed by Earth Warrior which through the lyrics certainly calls everyone to fight for the Earth. The reggae sounds, being a new sound for Omnia, succeed on drawing you in to the song as well as the cause. Daphyd’s typical didge sounds almost sound like the animals of the world add their voices to the song. Being the title track of the album, it could easily be a soundtrack for
Next up is Babu Bawu. Starting with what feels like a prayer, followed by Steve’s bawu, this song moves towards the tribal sound that we love and want from Omnia.
This tribal feel continues in Kokopelli, a song rooted in Native American lore. The opening of the song feels like opening the door to a mysterious realm. Once inside we find vibrant dancing in a near perfect animalistic world. The chants and flutes, as well as Rob’s pounding percussion complete a pagan party.
Crazy Man has a sound that steps slightly away from the traditional Omnia sound into more of an 80’s old-school rock and roll type song. But as we might expect, Omnia takes this sound, rolls with it and makes it their own.
Triceltika. What to say about this track? A beautiful harp piece by Jenny that slowly but steadily evolves into so much more. As the song progresses a story starts to unfold, told in sounds rather than words. This song will be a delight to hear live, though I can’t imagine how I would actually react to it. Stand still with closed eyes, swaying to the sounds to let the music flow through me, or move to the front of the crowd to add my motion to the energy of the song.
Epona, a song about the Celtic horse Goddess, is an older part of their repertoire. They have played this over the years, but it feels like an almost completely new song. Omnia have not just dusted off an old song, but polished it into something very “Omnia of today”. The power and energy make the blood boil and the song is a feast to the heart and soul.
With the next song Black House, Omnia displays yet another musical style. The deeper sounds and Steve’s raw voice draw you in to this dark dwelling which feels like an escape from every day troubles. Jenny’s “harp from hell” gives a very surprising refreshing effect to the song.
Mutant Monkey is of course the name that Omnia gives human beings and this song is about humans and their approach to the earth. A satirical protest completely in line with the theme of the album, with rhythms and sounds that lift you up and make you want to do some crazy dancing.
Cernunnos, the Lord of Beast, in the form of Herne the Hunter is the leader of the wyld hunt. It is therefore only fitting that this song is a new and improved rendition of Omnia’s song The Wyld Hunt. When you close your eyes it’s very easy to envision yourself running through the thick forest to the sounds of this song.
The next song, Noodle the Poodle, is a song that Omnia performs on stage a lot, and it’s just pure fun. Bluegrass country and western style and very energetic, it certainly gets the crowds moving, and even on CD it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to yell “Yeehaw” at the top of your lungs along with the song.
Call Me Satan might be seen as slightly controversial, as many pagans have been called Satanists while they are no such thing. However, in this song it seems that Omnia states that Satan is merely one name given to a deity that has had many names in the past and is only one of many. Though the song itself has a very constant vibe the musical style varies as the song progresses, giving me the feeling that they want to communicate that although the figure they sing of has changed over time the underlying thought remains the same. Musically enticing, with thought provoking lyrics, this song actually might be considered very typical for Omnia.
Free Bird Fly starts off with a very down and blue feeling but that quickly changes. The vocals, the piano play, the rhythm, the children’s choir, everything soon starts to lift you up and motivates you to take the steps to make everything better. Maybe the song was written for an actual bird, but the metaphor grips me and gives me goosebumps, and I do believe this song can actually help people.
Lament for a Blackbird is a very emotional and soft instrumental harp piece, where Jenny’s amazing harp skills are only accompanied by birdsong. For an album directed at the earth and with so much power, it’s a great way to bring you back and to let you digest it all.
This album is one with a familiar feel, as all songs on Earth Warrior are unmistakably Omnia songs but at the same time it is also very surprising. The variation in musical styles from one song to the next is astonishing, yet it all does fit together as one. The deep love of, and reverence for nature that the band holds, shines through in almost every song of this album and certainly lights a spark in the heart of the listener. I have so far not had the chance to hear much of this album live, but I really can’t wait. I’m very curious to find out what the post-album addition of the musical talent of Satrya brings to the sound, but I’m convinced it will be awesome.
If I were to be forced to choose a favorite song from this album I would definitely have a hard time at it, due to the very high level of the entire album. However, I think that my love for all things Celtic, the harp and emotion in music would lead me to pick Triceltika. As said before, I really want to hear this song live and feel the energy of it coming off the stage.
is a brilliant album that lives up not only to the reputation of an experienced band like
but also to it’s name. It truly is the soundtrack for anyone that wants to fight for the earth.