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‘…one of Ireland’s most creative talents for over 20 years.’
-Boston Globe-

The release of Andy Irvine’s first studio album in over ten years is no small news. Finally coaxed off that perennial global tour for five minutes Irvine has managed to capture a bewitching set of original arrangements and songs that have illuminated his concerts of recent years. Abocurragh (a reference to his residence outside Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh) is not just one man’s album; it is a gathering of great musicians and a dramatic journey for the listener. That journey somehow involves murder, confidence tricks, cannibalism, and the divil himself. But fear not, such macabre themes are offset with the loveliest of music, not to mention a brilliant wit.

At the helm is producer Dónal Lunny, one of Andy’s longest running musical partners and, of course, Planxty compadre. If anyone knows their way around the complex psyche of Irvine songs and arrangements it is Lunny and an album that has, for all intents and purposes, being brewing for a decade, it would seem almost inconceivable not to have this man at the controls pulling it altogether.

Otherwise the roll-call of musicians speaks for itself. Giants of traditional music, folk, rock and beyond, each one a key player in the Andy Irvine back-history: Liam O’Flynn, Máirtín O’Connor, Annbjørg Lien, Lillebjørn Nilsen, Nikola Parov, Jacky Molard, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Rick Epping, Graham Henderson, Paul Moore, Liam Bradley, Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

An Andy Irvine album wouldn’t be so without the inclusion of songs relating to political corruption and the socialist struggle for equality. There is a triumvirate of songs included here which very much relate to this side of the artist. “Emptyhanded”, written by Greek songwriter George Papavgeris,  details the plight of poor Australian farmers battling droughts and unsympathetic banks. The line “My savings went to buy this land but all it’s good for is to bury me” evokes the pure sadness of the song, the pathos further enabled by the soft, elegiac arrangement.  “The Spirit of Mother Jones” is an original song telling story of militant agitator Mary Harris who campaigned for the rights of American mining families from the late 19th century to her death in 1930. An American style folk song where Andy once again calls on the strength of spirit of his lifelong hero Woody Guthrie. “Victory at Lawrence”, another self-penned tune, is a tribute to the Lawrence Mills strike of 1912, “nearly a watershed in the social history of the USA” had it not been for the Depression of 1913, unemployment and the inability of Andy’s beloved Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) to motivate a strong enough union.

Andy Irvine’s longstanding journey through music has been well documented, from his early skiffle days to O’Donoghues pub, set in 1960s Dublin, and his through his work with Sweeney’s Men, Planxty, Paul Brady and Patrick Street, not to mention countless other collaborations and four solo albums. This album, his fifth solo, has been a long time coming but when you consider the distractions; a widely publicised Planxty get-together, an incredible adventure with his world-folk ensemble Mozaik, regular Patrick Street sojourns and that endless trek around the world, you can excuse the delay.

The question now is does Abocurragh represent a more grounded Andy Irvine, still singing about the world at large but finally tired of the road? Probably not.

Andy will be performing some select Irish Dates mid-September.
UK tour September 22nd – October 23rd.
Further info at

Permalink - Posted: September 17, 2010 at 11:33 am