Praise for “Here This is Home”
Irish Music Magazine
Four albums in and Colleen Raney has nailed it when it comes to the depth of emotive, vocal maturity she has produced in Here This is Home. Her expressive timbre of tone is the glue that binds the eleven tracks yet ably leaves room for the creative work of Aidan Brennan and Lúnasa’s own Trevor Hutchinson to weave magic around the recording and engineering processes on the album.
The Pacific Northwest based songstress has applied a creative cleverness of choice in both the songs and the musicians surrounding her on the album’s journey. Masterful arrangements that, when applied to the vocal blend, bring a contemporary freshness to long time classics like The Boys of Mullaghbawn and The Lovely Green Banks of the Moy. The respect for the history of the lyrical landscape within these songs is abundant yet Raney’s vocal tone combined with the instrumental collective of quality musicians that, as well as Brennan and Hutchinson, include Colm O’Caoimh on keys, the box playing of Johnny B Connolly, Steve Larkin on fiddle, Dave Hingerty’s percussion and the bouzouki strings of Aaron Jones, allows for a musical experimentation that brings the songs into the contemporaneous realms of the present.
O’Caoimh opens Sanctuary with a poignant piano that underlies the inner tenderness of expression in Raney’s treatment of the rich lyricism of the description of home that will resonate with everyone on listening. The addition of backing vocals to that tender tone in Colliery Boy produces the highlight of the album of the album for me as both Raney and Brennan’s blend of sound craft an exquisite story of life around the Deerpark Mine that was the heart of life in the Kilkenny countryside. With both Brennan and Hanz Araki producing complementary backing vocals throughout the album, it can at times be unclear who is singing on which song, something the sleeve notes fail to resolve; a minor but frustrating point that does not detract from the overall listening experience.
Here This is Home is a rich treasure that, with the wealth of creative talent within, places the contemporary firmly within the tradition and positions Raney amongst the best in her genre.
Tradition endures while chronicles record its value, the present respects its heritage and when culture refreshes its existence. Does that sound more wish than reality? Listen to Colleen Raney’s latest album, ‘Here This Is Home’ and savour a young voice absorbing the consideration of tradition and reflecting its presence through superb vocals. It’s a wonderful album, and I strongly suggest you do yourself a huge favour and buy a copy.
With a love of heritage forged within her, Colleen presents a selection of old tunes and adds perceptible edge to their tradition. New life is breathed into the oft-sung but always engaging, traditional Canadian and English folk ballad ‘Canadee-I-O’ describing the tribulations of a young sea going girl – just beautiful. From there, she moves into yearning Irish songs, ‘The Boys of Mullaghbawn’ and ‘The Lovely Green Banks of the Moy’ recounting their despondent tales of brutal landlords, conniving officials and other dispossessors of land and birthright. There’s wealth of traditional variation from the spritely tale of ‘The Granemore Hare’, through the equally lively Scottish ‘Lassie Wi’ The Yellow Coatie’ to the deep seated sadness of hard tales within ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Colliery Boy’ – including a striking harmony duet. For completeness Colleen includes more classics such as the Child murder ballad ‘The Cruel Brother’ and a softly delicious take on another ‘clearance tale’ ‘Craigie Hill’. Traditional tales tenderly delivered, sensitive and delicately expressive vocals, that’s ‘Here This Is Home’
Alongside Colleen Raney on ‘Here This is Home’ are the sumptuous talents of Aidan Brennan (guitar, bouzouki, vocals) Johnny B Connolly (button accordions) Steve Larkin (fiddle) Colm O’Caoimh (piano, harmonium) Trevor Hutchinson (bass) and Dave Hingerty (drums, percussion) plus guests Aaron Jones (bouzouki) and Hanz Araki (vocals).
Folk Lantern, The Netherlands
Although singer Colleen Raney comes from Portland, Oregon, she goes into her work inspired by Ireland and Scotland. She’s already made two deserving solo albums. In 2011 she released an album with singer and guitarist Colm MacCarthaigh, and bodhran player, Matty Einion Sears under the name Cuan. This beautiful small scale album put Raney in adventurous waters.
In the summer of 2013, Colleen traveled to to Dublin to make her fourth album “Here This is Home”. Accompanying her are Aidan Brennan (guitar, bouzouki and backing vocals) , Johnny B. Connolly (accordion), Steve Larkin (fiddle) , Colm O’Caoimh (piano and harmonium) , Trevor Hutchinson (bass) and Dave Hingerty (drums).
Colleen Raney has a powerful and expressive voice that on Here This is Home is both nuanced and effective. Comparisons have already been made with the excellent voices of Cathy Jordan and Karan Casey. The album has eleven songs, dealing with themes like love, exile, traveling and coming home. Most of the material is traditional, with some additional new songs written by others.
The album opens with a very accomplished version of Canadee-IO. This song, made famous by Nic Jones, gets a very beautiful traditional treatment, with violin and accordion playing the lead role. With plenty of empathy within, on “The Boys Of Mullaghbawn” Raney evokes perfectly the feeling of nostalgia for the distant homeland Ireland. “Stand Up for Love” is sung with the voice of Brennan who wrote the song and lyrics with Irish poet Vincent Woods. With the modest ballad “The Lovely Green Banks Of the Moy” Colleen brings us to the first peak of this delicate album. The struggle for home rule in Ireland, violent and non-violent, is sung and referenced with the fate of activist Michael Davitt. “Here This is Home” has a perfect simple love song; the cheerful and catchy “Lassie Wi ‘ The Yellow Coatie” is also a great vehicle to feature background vocals by special guest Hanz Araki. The piano ballad “Sanctuary” is the next highlight, and also supplied the title to the album. One can really feel at home and breath in the embracing soul. A little further along with Raney is another highlight, the ballad “The Nightingale”. This time the the melancholy of the fragile departing emigrant is sung movingly and accompanied perfectly by acoustic guitar. The traditional song “Craigie Hill” finishes this album. From this hill, emigrants were dispatched to America. Understated drums, violin and accordion continue to play an outro.
With “Here This is Home” Colleen Raney is renewing herself. With a deep love for the tradition she breathes new life into old music. In my opinion, the album belongs amongst the very best that this year has to offer.
Tradconnect • Dublin, Ireland
Colleen Raney’s new album called Here This is Home heralds a development of her sound and reputation as one of America’s best traditional singers. She recorded it in Dublin in the Summer of 2013 with production by Aidan Brennan and engineering by Trevor Hutchinson, who both appear on the recording. Strength of material once again comes to the fore with a selection of songs that is very well suited to Colleen’s style and voice. It would be difficult to pick a weak song such is the quality of the selection with each track adding something different to the overall offering. The first track Canadee-I-O is a fantastic opener. Colleen references an early Nic Jones version of this traditional song. This however is better. It has a more textured vocal and a bass line that drives the song ever onward’s. The following Boys of Mullaghbawn is equally as compelling. From the singing of Len Graham it adds the strong Irish traditional component that exists on the album. Stand up for Lovebrings us into more present day territory with a song that is taken from a poem by Vincent Woods.
With Aidan Brennan ( guitar and bouzouki), Johnny B Connolly (accordion), Steve Larkin (fiddle), Colm O’ Caoimh (piano), Trevor Hutchinson (bass) and Dave Hingerty (drums) she has a team of some of our best musicians. They literally hit all the right notes with regard to the structure, sound and arrangements. Delicate at times and force full when they need to be. They have created an album which is a match for any of recent times when it comes to traditional song. Colleen herself brings an equal measure of quality to it. This recording should bring her to a wider global audience with a sound that is truly authentic. Her background and journey thus far make her as good an interpreter of traditional song as you will find. Here This is Home is a strong recording, her best to date. It has high production values and an interpretative spirit and vocal delivery that matches anyone in this genre. She has returned to her spiritual home and recorded an album that will stand the test of time.
Portland, Oregon singer Colleen Raney has a new record hitting the streets tomorrow. Here This is Home features eleven achingly beautiful songs from Ireland and Scotland that explore themes of love, exile, and homecoming. She traveled to Ireland to make her fourth full-length record, and enlisted the skills of Aidan Brennan, Trevor Hutchinson, Johnny B. Connolly, Steve Larkin, Colm O’Caoimh, Dave Hingerty, Aaron Jones, and Hanz Araki.
With material that culls the best of traditional and contemporary Celtic song, Colleen Raney hits it out of the park on Here This Is Home. Like delicate butterflies, her melodies float as fine as silken thread on a briny ocean breeze. Her perfectly fragile phrasing invokes the homesick heart of the immigrant and the craggy windswept shore of the distant homeland. With this release, all of the trad world will now realize what her many fans on the West Coast already knew: hers is a voice that ranks on par with top singers like Karan Casey (formerly Solas), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan), and Cathy Jordan (Dervish). Find a quiet spot, listen, and you will be rewarded.
FolkWorld Magazine, Germany
Vincent Woods’ poem “Sanctuary” gave rise to the title of Colleen Raney’s already 4th album, “Here This is Home”. That fits nicely like a motto in a grand selection of traditional Irish songs: “The Boys of Mullaghbawn”, “The Granemore Hare”, “The Nightingale” … Moreover, the album kicks off with a catchy “Canadee-I-O” in the Nic Jones version, and some Scots songs are there as well. Colleen Raney is a traditional singer of great talent from the US Northwest, the area can boast of a thriving Irish music community, trying to tread in the footsteps of the great Irish singers past and present. And Colleen does a brilliant job here, both passionate and sensitive. Production-wise it was a great help that Lúnasa’s bass player Trevor Hutchinson was producing (note: This detail is incorrect. The album was produced by Aidan Brennan, and engineered by Trevor Hutchinson) and employing helping hands such as Johnny B. Connolly (button accordion), Aaron Jones (bouzouki) (note: The bouzouki parts on the album were played by Aidan Brennan and Aaron Jones was included as a guest instrumentalist on The Boys of Mullaghbawn) or Dave Hingerty (percussion). The corporate effort results in an up-to-date production of several vintage songs that unites the ancient Celtic bard, the broadside street singer and the contemporary stage performer.
Praise for “Cuan”
– Jamie O’Brien, The Irish Edition, July 2012
-Sean Smith, Boston Irish Reporter, May 2012
“Cuan” is Irish for “harbor,” “haven” or “bay”—a place where land meets the sea. The music is unadorned, yet intensely compelling and energetic on its own, with only Colleen’s and Colm’s pure vocals and guitar arrangements (& a bit o’ bodhran) to carry the stories of journey and sea. Colleen’s voice carries each note and ornamentation with strength and intensity, regardless of modulation.
– Kathy Johnson, KSER, Everett, Washington
Praise for “Lark”
Musicians don’t come with much more history in the craft than singer Colleen Raney. She’s been singing for more than two decades, and has been immersed in America’s Celtic music and dance scene for three. Raised in Seattle, previously based in New York and now calling Portland, Oregon home, Raney has studied and performed Irish music in more places and for longer than most musicians do in the span of their entire careers. She, however, is just pushing hers into the spotlight.
Only in the last several years has Raney translated the tapestry of her upbringing into recordings. Her first album, 2008’s Linnet, showcases her aptitude for re-imagining classic Irish songs, as well as her own songwriting, which she manages to present as well-loved and firmly rooted in tradition. Linnet marked Raney’s first move separate from her family’s enormous cultural footprint in the Seattle Irish music scene, and established her and the band she assembled as touchstones on the Celtic music circuit in their own right.
Things have changed on her latest release, Lark, released in January 2011. Raney’s strong, lilting voice has grown more distinct, more playful; a physical manifestation of her musical move into more contemporary territory. The contributions of Northwest music scene staples Casey Neill (guitar) and Zak Borden (mandolin) have changed Raney’s live show into more focused, pop-folk affairs that draw on and exhibit the best of Irish musical tradition, but ultimately leave an impression of Raney as a versatile singer-songwriter, comfortable steeped in Irish folk standards or appealing to contemporary audiences.
The production reins on Lark are split between Raney and her longtime collaborator, flautist Hanz Araki, who was the sole producer of Linnet. Araki’s masterful flute and whistle work ground Lark in the Celtic tradition he and Colleen share, but Neill’s accessible acoustic guitar, in combination with Raney’s upbeat arrangements and confident, effervescent voice will appeal to listeners entirely unfamiliar with the genre.
Rarely is an artist as deeply entrenched in a musical niche as Colleen Raney has been able to present centuries-old music with an eye toward current and future listeners outside of the genre. By adapting and developing her voice, however, and by surrounding herself with a constantly-evolving ensemble of the best musicians the Northwest has to offer (Celtic-centric or otherwise), she manages to both credit her training and history, and stake claim as a serious presence in contemporary folk music. Hers is a Lark with which listeners will want to play along.
-Katie Presley, Bitch Magazine, January 2011
Colleen Raney first came to our attention with her stunning debut album, Linnet, a few years ago. But she’s been part of the Irish and Scottish musical communities of the Northwest for some time now, both as a singer, a band leader and with the Raney family, a well-known family of musicians and dancers. When it came time to strike out on her own, she tapped into the network of amazing Celtic and acoustic musicians in the Northwest (who’ll be joining her this Thursday), drawing guitarist Casey Neill, mandolinist Zak Borden, guitar/cittern player Colm MacCárthaigh, bassist Ezra Holbrook and drummer Matt Jerrell. Each of these musicians bring a solid instrumental base to her music, but it’s her gorgeous voice that’s been turning heads all around. Singing with a deep love for the tradition, and for the dark poetry of Celtic song, Colleen has been drawing new life from the old ballads and renewing our love for Celtic music.
Devon Leger, Hearth Music, January 2011
The dark and rainy Pacific Northwest continues to produce an endless stream of brilliant folk music, and it was on display everywere at the recent Northwest Folkife Festival. The seething mass of humanity that is NW Folkife was held recently in downtown Seattle, in the shadow of her famous landmark, the Space Needle. Folkies came out in droves to this event, from raucous tatooed crusties to polished professionals, picking and sawing and dancing and singing, an estimated quarter-million in all, over four days.
Singer Colleen Raney was one of the polished ones, mesmerizing the crowded plaza with her lilting songs of the Irish and Scottish traditions. In a hectic backstage environment, guitarist Casey Neill kindly passed along copies of her two albums. Both are absolutely lovely, as was her stage show: her singing angelic and her backing band culled from the royalty of the Portland Irish music scene. Recommended for all fans of traditional Celtic song!
Stuart Mason, Fiddlefreak, June 2011