Six years on from his debut, Alan Marshall’s new album A Beautiful Brawl features a more organic folk feel. The Scottish singer-songwriter who currently resides in Ireland has collaborated with a number of Ireland’s most prolific folk musicians, with contributions from the likes of Cyril O’Donoghue, Damien McGeehan, Matt Bashford and Pogues bassist/ vocalist Cait O’Riordan.
The mix of Scottish and Irish folk is distinctive and adds a homely quality to the album. Listening to Marshall is like sitting in a quiet pub admiring the local band. It elicits a feeling of community and togetherness. A Beautiful Brawl would be great to have on vinyl to put on to sit back and relax to.
Tracks like A Tale of Love and Woe, In Donegal, In Need of a Friend and All This Weight offer slower melodies, while Against the Wall, Rising Seas and Gerrup Outta Bed bring classic folk jigs. Marshall’s mix of Scottish heritage and Irish music offers some interesting sounds.
Ach Alba, for example, sounds like a traditional Scottish folk song, as the title would suggest. But the following track Against the Wall is classic Irish folk. Marshall’s strong Scottish accent is an interesting addition to the Irish jig and works well. Likewise the slow spoken word on In Donegal sees Marshall’s accent compliment the slow Irish folk sound. The closing Gerrup Outta Bed is pure Irish folk again and Marshall’s Glaswegian charm adds another layer to the typically upbeat style.
A Beautiful Brawl really does capture the feel of a small town folk pub, with its pan-Celtic mix of tunes.