Composer/Irish Traditional


‘The Tunes Foundry’ album reviews;

Alex Monaghan      “This fluter from County Clare has found a flair for writing tunes, close to the traditional Irish idiom but with the occasional modern twist. I won’t say there are no familiar phrases in Ms Heslin’s compositions – it’s hard to write within the tradition without evoking old melodies, and my ear detected an echo of old friends in a few places here. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily – For Vanessa, The Chcken Wrap and The EIRE Sign are all great tunes in their own right, with or without their passing resemblance to other reels and jigs.

The Tunes Foundry includes twenty-three Heslin creations, almost all jigs and reels. Better still, the sleevenotes give background to each piece, and explain some of the obscure names – Orla’s Intent, Skip out of School, or The Wait! – and there are even dots for five of the tunes. The acid test for a composer, of course, as for a musician, is the Irish slow air: Áine offers a very creditable one between the jigs and the reels, Seabed, conveying both the loss of life among fishermen and the hope that the sea will care for these lost souls in its bosom. Áine plays this air beautifully on whistle, and mixes whistle and flute elsewhere, along with a few friends to round out the sound. The whole album is enjoyable and impressive, whether or not you are looking for fresh tunes. There are some samples online too.”

Eileen McCabe of Irish Music Magazine /                    What I really like about Áine Heslin’s release, The Tunes Foundry, is that all of the eleven tracks contain tunes of her own composition. The Clare based flautist has captured tunes she has composed over the years and played in many sessions in her native Clare where she names the likes of Pete Haugh’s pub in Doonbeg and Daly’s in Ballynacally as being focal memories of her play.

The tunes reflect the music Áine has absorbed and played and through this pure absorption she has re–established the style and the simple focus of the note and melody, its phrasing and syncopation on beat. This means that the tune itself takes centre stage over the play and makes for an engaging listen. Take the upbeat opening track that includes two lovely jigs, the first is the bright and lifting Walking the Dog which sets the lilting pace for A Tribute to Michael Tubridy, the original flute player of the Chieftains, which flows with a melodic simplicity and edge.

What caught my ear throughout the album are the tune names and the stories behind them, which are personal, witty and reflect the sensitivity and emotion underpinning the composition process. Seabed is a perfect example of this where she describes the pain and anguish of loved ones of the fishermen lost by the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme on the Cork coast in 2012.  The slow air mirrors the pensiveness of the event and the drawn notes have a reflective impact long after the tune subsides. It’s not all pensive though, The Chicken Wrap (love that name!) is set at an unadorned, defined pace and whilst I can’t say it reflects the personality of a chicken, it certainly is a lovely listen.

That’s The Tunes Foundry all over, a lovely listen and a chance to absorb and pick up some nicely composed tunes from Áine Heslin.”


Kevin Crawford (of Lúnasa)                                                                                                            “Well here’s a welcome addition to the ever growing crop of tunes within the traditional garden. So refreshing to hear a collection of newly composed tunes that have an identity all of their own yet could easily have been with us for years. Flawless flowing flute and whistle along with quite innovative yet appropriate accompaniment make this a very interesting recording full of sneaky little surprises along the way. There’s a lovely relaxed rhythm and pulse throughout which makes the musicians among us want to play along and learn these tunes right away.

It’s a daunting task recording a solo album at the best of times, add to the mix the fact that all the material is self composed and you’d have to be either very stupid or incredibly passionate to see the project through. It’s quite obvious listening to the twenty three tunes throughout that this is a labour of love and one driven by a genuine passion for the music.
Huge thanks to Áine for allowing us to share and enjoy her wonderful compositions. I’m off to learn the “Chicken Wrap” Jig.”

Colm Nestor   “In the world of traditional music, this CD has to stand out as being unique for many reasons. Firstly, it is comprised entirely of original compositions by Áine. Each tune is unique and well crafted, perfectly played and most importantly, true to the tradition. The album features the very capable silver flute and tin whistle playing of Áine with sympathetic accompaniment on guitar from Matt Heslin and Graham Dunne. Máire Breathnach’s beautiful fiddle playing is also a pleasure to listen to. I am also impressed with the sleeve notes for the CD which contain a wealth of information on the inspiration on why the tunes were composed, they are also a great snap shot of the present day great musicians of west Clare. The arrangements reflect the beauty and excitement of her influences, there are echoes of the great traditional groups of the 70s and 80s in some tracks while the tin whistle tracks show different disciplines of slow air playing and a Jig.The melodies in this CD will live with the listener for a long time after hearing them. I have no doubt from listening to these fine tunes that they will make their way in to the repertoires of all traditional musicians in future years.”


Tony Lawless
“Strength of composition is very much to the fore in this compelling collection of new tunes from Clare flautist Áine Heslin. Prolific in her output, she has amassed a collection of tunes over the years and this recording brings 23 of them to life across 11 tracks. She displays an expressive and clear style of playing that accentuates the melody lines within the arrangements.  This has the effect of amplifying the more subtle movements within the tunes themselves, making them linger long enough to take root in your mind. Walking The Dog, the album opener is resplendent with its lilting melody and paired with A Tribute to Michael Tubridy, a tune dedicated to The Chieftains original flute player, it is a statement of intent with regard to what follows. She reigns in her creative spirit when required and brings a modern edge to tunes like Lady of the Hollow and the title tune The Tunes Foundry which with Round Wagtail and Lift Me, make for a great set of jigs.  All in all a very satisfying album of new music, with tunes that quickly start to settle in your mind. Recommended.”


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