CD Reviews
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Rock ’n’ Reel magazine - November 2007
Nuada are a three piece folk act from Ely who specialise in a refreshingingly eclectic blend of traditional and self-written pieces from Irish, European and English sources. Their unusual blend of instruments, including bagpipes, ocarina, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, lute, recorders, gemshorn, didgeridoo and whistles means there’s plenty to discover on Court the Sun, their latest album, and plenty of surprises to enjoy, not least their evocative performances of early music and their unique approach to traditional songs like ‘The House Carpenter’.
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Jan Strapp, Unicorn Magazine - October 2007
Nuada are Ferris Jay: bagpipes, gemshorn, duet ocarina, recorders, whistles, wooden flute. Sam Burke: bouzouki, Cornish pipes, didgeridoo, guitar, lute and percussion, Ruth Bramley: hurdy gurdy. The 15 tracks are a nice mixture of songs and instrumentals that combine the traditional and self penned. I especially liked track 4, ‘Searching for Lambs’ with good backing to Ruth’s voice from pipes and guitar. I found ‘Sally’s Music Boat’ written by Ferris Jay going round in my head all day so much so that you may hear me playing it! The last track ‘Einini Reprise’ is a fitting end, in keeping with the artwork on the cover, and was like the sun setting on the music. I would have liked more printed information against each track as to singer, etc. but there are copious notes as well as sample MP3 files on line at However, this is a minor grouch against a CD that provided plenty of light and shade, fast and slow, gentle and pulsy. Just my kind of CD. This is their fourth album, and is available at £12 inc p&p through their website or from 01353 740999.
PS I have now seen them perform live and they are every bit as good as their CD.
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Julian Proctor, Banburyshire Brolly - July 2007
If you are expecting to hear the distinctive sound of Nuada on their new cd ‘Court The Sun’, then you won’t be disappointed. The swirling pipes of Ferris Jay, the hurdy gurdy of Ruth Bramley and the scything acoustic guitar of Sam Burke are very much in evidence, starting with the opening title track. But there is so much more to Nuada, and the band have obviously decided that their latest offering should be a really stylish production. This is evident right from the moment you look at the gatefold cd cover. The simple, but effective cover photographs are a sign of the quality of the music to come. With ‘Caught The Sun’, Nuada have come up with a well produced selection of, mostly home-written tracks, in a range of styles, to showcase their talents. As well as their signature sound, they have quiet and thoughtful pieces, Peanut Calata and the lullaby Einini, and what for me is the most daring song on the CD, Searching For Lambs. I first heard this sung by Shirley Collins over thirty years ago, where she put such a stamp on the song, that I’ve rarely heard it since. The playing, arrangement and especially the singing of Ruth Bramley on this track, shows the confidence that Nuada have developed, and I applaud them for it. So if you are after a CD which is pleasing on the eye and pleasing on the ear, then buy a copy of ‘Caught The Sun’. I hope you will be as delighted with it as I am.
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Bob Paterson - July 2007
This is the first time in many a while I have heard some really refreshing traditional folk music, and I enjoyed it from the start to the finish. The artwork on the CD is extremely impressive which really draws you in to actually listening to it. There is some brilliant playing of instruments on the CD - 13 instruments between 3 people including Ruth’s hurdy gurdy, which sets the tone of the album from the word go. Also on here are some lovely themed songs, you can imagine where they were when they wrote the songs. Of the 8, 6 of them are penned by the band and two are traditional songs arranged by the band. If you haven’t heard of the band Nuada, you have now. They are really refreshing to watch live too - especially with a mug of ale in your hand.
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Duncan McFarlane - June 2007
As mature and measured a set of folk tunes and songs as you’ll hear anywhere. Beautifully sung, three voices that knit together extremely well and stand individually too. Instrumentally polished, expertly played and arranged; never does any note seem superfluous - every one placed just so, to savour. The recording and mix, both superb; my hat’s off to these folks. Attractive and professional packaging make this CD complete. This one’s a winner!
Review of ‘Court the Sun’ - Denise Broomfield - June 2007
This is a wonderful album. Although I had been aware of Nuada’s music previously, having listened to some of their tracks on Myspace, I had not had the opportunity of listening to a whole album before; the tracks on Myspace hardly do the new album, Court the Sun, justice.

The trio play an impressive total of 13 instruments, some of them rare and unusual including the gemshorn, duet ocarina, lute and hurdy gurdy. I have it on good authority that Ruth Bramley’s hurdy gurdy is called Helga!

The album is varied and at points unusual to listen to. Rather than being a mainstream album of different songs and tunes where it is easy to ‘cherry pick’ your favourites, this album is more about texturing and layering. It would be like Cezanne painting with his oils, gradually building on one of those square base French landscapes. Talking of French, some of the music has a distinct Breton feel to it. Other tracks almost feel medieval. Some of the songs and tunes are the trio’s own compositions such as Court the Sun/Mainly, composed by Ruth Bramley, Woman Don’t You Weep, by Sam Burke and Sally’s Music Boat by Ferris Jay. Others are Nuada’s own interpretation of traditional songs such as Einini, Searching for Lambs and the amusingly entitled Punch Up in Ashby de la Zouche. There is also a wonderful cover of one of my favourite songs, The House Carpenter.

My favourite track is Einini which is an Irish lullaby with vocals by Ferris. It is such a sweet gentle song that it makes you stop in your tracks and have to listen to it. Breakfast has been late in my house on a couple of occasions as a result. Other star tracks are We Be Soldiers Three/Phoebe’s Retreat, Woman Don’t You Weep and the Black Fox.

An excellent addition to my ever growing music collection. Certainly an act to see some time in the future. I can thoroughly recommend Court The Sun as an album to buy.
Review of ‘Kiss for a Fig’ - Unicorn Magazine - July 2005
Nuada are Ruth Bramley, Ferris Jay and Sam Burke, from the Ely area. They play over 14 instruments between them, ranging from hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki and lute to bagpipes and harp, and also sing harmonies together. Their style is ’Celtic, Early and Folk Music’ - which covers a lot of ground!
There are indeed many diverse songs and tunes on the album, from ’The Two Ravens’ - a well-known traditional unaccompanied song (sometimes ’Twa Corbies’), through the Irish ’Blackwaterside’ and ’Cunla’ songs, and slow air ’The Coolin’, to a twelfth century French song ’Kalenda Maya’. A total of fifteen tracks, with six purely instrumental, and the rest songs. My favourites were the Breton tunes ’An Dros’, and ’John Martin’ - a song written by Ruth about a local mill.
An unusually varied album, which in many ways adds to its appeal. As ever, an old traddy like me has heard some of the pieces before, and comparisons with stars such as Bert Jansch and Planxty will inevitably be difficult, but Nuada are a breath of fresh air - always welcome. Well-arranged, and with some interesting combinations of instruments, this album should give Nuada the boost they deserve.
Review of ‘Atlas’ - Unicorn Magazine - April 2003
Nuada are a trio from the Ely area: Ferris Jay on pipes, piccolo, recorders & whistle, Sam Burke on bouzouki, guitar, bass, percussion, curtal and vocals, and Ruth Bramley on hurdy-gurdy, percussion and vocals. Multi-talented or what!
There are nine tracks on this CD, of which eight are purely instrumental, with one (Swedish) song. I really liked the sound they make - the pipes and hurdy-gurdy always sound good together, and the tunes are mostly unusual and catchy. They play well, with enthusiasm and enjoyment, and the balance and recording are generally fine.
Favourite tracks - ‘Thelma’s Foot’ by Ruth - simple but strong, with a good arrangement, ‘Hanter dro’ - ‘a traditional Breton dance number’ - the band really rocking with the repetitive tune, and ‘Last Chance Bourrée’ an excellent tune from Michael Pichon. Gripes? Very few - the one song is a little out of place, and the last track ‘Pavanne’ is very nice in a quiet reflective way, but a solo guitar piece to finish seemed an anticlimax. However, overall - great!
The band is available for ceilidhs as well as folk clubs, and can be seen at Cromer Festival later this year.
Review of ‘Atlas’ - by Andrew Martin, The Band Agency - April 2003
Nuada, was an important figure in Celtic mythology, an all powerful God in Irish Myth. The band (now a trio with the arrival of Ruth - vocals, hurdy gurdy and percussion) are proving that Nuada once again has an important Celtic role, not in mythology but in modern day music with their exceptional musical skills and live gigs. Here, the trio have written original pieces (influenced by chickens and horses!) as well as having arranged the more traditional pieces such as ‘Belle bergere’ and ‘Hanter dro’ to record what is essentially a rich, diverse and powerful, almost wall of sound, album. Listen and learn.
Performance Reviews
Kontra Roots Club - by Kevin Buxton - February 2007
It’s a truism, but we live in an increasingly homogenised world, and nowhere is this reflected more than in our musical culture. Log in to MySpace Music, type in the words acoustic and folk, and you will soon find yourself floundering in a sea of sound-a-like singer-songwriters, too many of them lacking in originality and, worse, interest.
Three cheers then for Nuada (Noo-er-der), a three piece band from Ely whose musical roots go back not just a few years, or even a few decades, but several centuries. With an array of instruments that include bagpipes, hurdy gurdy, guitars, bouzouki, bodhran, gemshorn, lute and harp, members Ruth Bramley, Sam Burke and Ferris Jay are definitely not your average folk band. Strongly influenced by Celtic and Early music, the origins of many of Nuada’s songs and tunes stem from French, Swedish and Irish traditions as well as English, but they’re equally adept at blending their own self-penned compositions seamlessly into their wide-ranging repertoire. The result is a kaleidoscope of unusual tonal colours that is endlessly varied but with its own very strong identity.
What truly sets Nuada apart though, beyond the excellence of their playing and the originality of their repertoire, is the sheer gusto and exuberance of Ruth, Sam and Ferris in performance. It’s quite a while since I saw musicians play with such joie de vivre and enthusiasm. This is a band who are no mere custodians of an ancient music: their aim is to entertain (they often perform in medieval costume), and if the audience reaction to their lively set at the Kontra Roots Club in Kettering last December was anything to go by, in this they very much succeed. Their CD, Kiss For A Fig, is well worth checking out too.
Barnet Folk Club - by JJ Dunne - November 2006
For our last meeting in the studio theatre I was joined by my friends from Cambridge - Nuada. We had a fabulous evening, the music and songs had us dancing in the aisles. Spam, Ferris & Ruth gave us a cracking show and put a new spark to mediaeval music.
Woodworks Festival - Michele Read - September 2005
We‘ve booked Nuada twice now - once for The ent. Shed Bedford and once for The Woodworks festival at The Forest of Marston Vale. This was a new event and Nuada opened for us. Within minutes of them starting to play, they attracted an interested audience. Their music was a perfect introduction to the day. Their blend of instrumental dexterity - Ferris on pipes and Ruth on Hurdy Gurdy and Sam on guitar is as unusual as it is attractive. Their combination of Celtic dance tunes, traditional and original songs, early music and instrumentals, not to mention the odd humorous story, make them perfect for this sort of event. The small children dancing at the front testified to Nuada‘s wide appeal. These youngsters were so in tune with the music - we thought maybe the band had paid them - but no, it was quite spontaneous! We have had very good feedback from our audiences and will definitely be booking them again. Highly recommended.
Milkmaid Folk Club - Terry Walden - August 2005
Nuada opened our Folk Day and in minutes the arena filled up, great stuff. They just get better and better every time I see them....
Ely Folk Weekend - John Blackwell - July 2004
An exciting trio playing a wide range of Celtic, Folk and early music. It was really good to see them take to our big stage like they belonged there - a great, well-received set, and again we look forward to more.
Barnet Folk Club - by JJ Dunne - December 2002
Sam Burke, Ferris Jay & Ruth Bramley absolutely mesmerised all of us with a trip around The Celtic World with some beautiful songs and tunes played straight from the heart! They played many tracks from their new album ‘Atlas’ plus some of the old songs that had the feet stomping and the hands clapping. They finished their set with the Bob Pegg classic, ‘The Last Dance’.