Whoosh! It may have been a long wait, but now that Ímar’s third album has finally arrived, it’s certainly not hanging about. Right from the opening tune set, the Scottish, Irish and Manx quintet absolutely rip it up, with dizzying collective virtuosity striking sparks at every twisty bend.
It’s five years since they took home the Horizon Award at the BBC’s Folk Awards, at which concertina player Mohsen Amini also claimed the Musician of the Year title, and they’ve grown even stronger. A few sharply arranged traditional tunes appear, but the majority are new compositions, with a particularly strong contribution from fiddler Tomas Callster, whose baker’s dozen tunes stretch from the intense ‘Black Tap’ reel to the rare reflective sway of ‘Fenella’s’.
Beyond individuals, though, Ímar is a band of five first rate musicians who are committed to the bigger picture. In this, Awakening provides a clearer impression than either of its predecessors, thanks to perfectly intuitive production. There’s a lot going on in these tunes, but they’re captured so cleanly and simply that you can feel the air moving around them.
It’s a long time since I’ve listened to an album so many times on Repeat. Utterly exhilarating.