by Illiam Sebitz
Multi-instrumentalist Mera Royle is an eighteen-year-old musician from Isle of Man that has been playing whistle, fiddle and harp since the age of seven. Royle performs regularly with other traditional musicians on the Island including flute player and tunesmith, Peddyr Cubberley and with friends in a band called ‘Scran,’ which means ‘peasants’ in Manx Gaelic. Scran has recorded an album of traditional and original tunes which will be released in 2018. Royle is based in the traditions and builds on the freedom that playing Manx and traditional music gives, allowing improvisation around the tunes melody and chords. Royle won the 2018 BBC Young Folk Award and performed at the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award weekend. Royle has released The Ballaglass Set, which contains six tracks, a tad of originals and a pinch of traditional songs, all together they create a beautiful aural experience.
“A Hundred Hours” is a Royle original compositions that she plays on the harp. The melody has elements of Irish folk music, but also draws upon other sounds and colors. The composition moves through various feels and Royle’s touch on the harp is absolutely enlightened. The melody is set to an enjoyable chord progression, inside of which are nestled many layers of counterpoint and harmonic movements, all clearly brought out by Royle.
Paul Cringle’s “Auldyn River” sits as the major central bloom – a melody that sounds ancient and flows from the whistle, as Royle’s harp engulfs it and provides support and suavity. The adagio pulse and the breath in the phrasing allows the track a particular joy which allows us to appreciate both Royle’s ability to spin out huge musical lines throughout the strong-accompaniment.
“Mylecharaines March / Moirrey ny Cainle” are two traditional tunes from the Isle of Man performed on the harp by Royle with control and authority. Her ability to keep the melody singing and clear is stunning. Her approach is traditional, but genuinely fresh. The track is a delicately humming and serenely exhilarating performance of the style of music that makes the Isle of Man a special musical island.
The Ballaglass Set has the perfect blend of old and new, in both songs and playing style. Royle has a special gift and her ability on the harp is immense. Manx music and culture is in good hands with the younger musicians such as Royle. This is a sterling art-form, played and conveyed with extraordinary passion and musical ability.
The Ballaglass Set
by Mera Royle
- Release Date: August 14, 2018
- Label: Self-Released