Ímar is a five piece band based in Glasgow with strong Celtic – and particularly Irish – influence, delivered through concertina, uillean pipes, flute and whistle, fiddle, bouzouki and bodhran. And powerful stuff it is too as the opening track Deep Blue demonstrates – a veritable avalanche of sound delivered with verve and precision.
There are 10 tracks in all, many featuring tunes penned by members of the band, and two ‘trad arr’ tracks to end the album. I particularly enjoyed Rambling with its jaunty uillean pipes beginning and White Strand where the band is augmented by piano and a string quartet adding rather sumptuously to the band’s sound. The neat change of tempo and mood comes with the Irish Air, Slane – here titled Be Thou because of its association with the hymn Be Thou My Vision – played with gentility and elegance which is a much needed contrast with so much of the album. The CD closes with a set of traditional Irish reels played with real verve and gusto.
It is easy to see why they received the Horizon Award for best emerging act at the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, led by the concertina playing of Mohsen Amini who garnered the Musician of the Year award. Their playing is vigorous and tight and the material on this album is firmly rooted in the Celtic traditions. On the evidence of this CD, they have a bright future ahead of them.