Releases > Releases April 2017

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Into the Cauldron
Trad Nua, JMCCD3
15 Tracks, 57 Minutes
How lucky are we to get fifteen tracks of pleasure from the distinctive sound of Johnny McEvoy? Fifty-one years of vocal entertainment from this legend has not diminished the quality of his performance and it’s evident on his latest album, Into the Cauldron. Recorded at Cauldron Studios, the home of musical stunner Bill Shanley (who also produces the album). Johnny opens the first track with Come Sit Down Beside Me And Listen A While, and with the songs contained within, that’s exactly what you are compelled to do!
For fifty-seven minutes, you are taken from old favourites like Peggy Gordon, Nancy Spain and Three Score and Ten to songs that include his latest single My Father’s House; a personal insight into the thoughts and memories of this singing legend.
Johnny has the innate ability to bring you with him into the heart of a song. On Every Night I Dream of Being a Cowboy you can see the stars, hear the lowing of the cattle and feel the heat of the prairie and to me, that’s the magical touch of any singer, one that can deliver the descriptive delivery of any lyric with an integrity that resonates and Johnny can do that with style. He does it with Lay Me Down Easy, The Lusmagh Fields so Green and especially in The Warmth of Her Arms which draws you into the despair of destitution and loss with emotive prowess. The album ends with a flourish of the old favourite, Run Around Angel, and the inimitable line ‘Do you still hang your dreams upon a star’.
Well, with Into the Cauldron, Johnny definitely doesn’t hang his dreams anywhere, he’s already accomplished them and most definitely is the star of every song he sings.
Eileen McCabe

Own Label 10 Tracks, 44 Minutes
Button box, fiddle and guitar, what’s not to like? Mayo men Munnelly and McNulty squeeze and draw, bow and scrape respectively, ably accompanied by Sligo’s Shane McGowan (the other one). All the Ms. This album was recorded for a trio tour round the four provinces of Ireland, Munnelly forsaking his low country home for a return to his childhood haunts in Ballina, plus Belfast, Ballincollig, and Balbriggan in ancient County Fingal. All the Bs. 3’oh is packed with virtuosity, from the opening Bog Carrot to the final White Petticoat, and while most of the material here is traditional there are a few new tunes sprinkled on top. John Carty’s Seanamhac Tube Station makes a welcome appearance, as do a couple of less well known tunes: The Buck from Kilty, Causeway, and Réalta for instance. I’m struggling with no sleevenotes, but thinking just maybe some of these are Munnelly or McNulty creations.
No need for original melodies to make a great impression: the lads tear into The Swallowtail and The Rakes of Clonmel in fine style, and they really go to town with Miss Monaghan and The Boys of Bluehill. Many’s the session which spurns these classics, but McGowan deftly picks a silk purse out of an old hornpipe on solo guitar, while my spinster namesake is treated to a virtuoso makeover on the old melodeon. The James Hill favourite Factory Smoke, named after a pub probably, is followed by a minor version of Polly Put the Kettle On and a grand old Quebec reel in McNulty’s swingy solo set. There’s quite a bit of old-time swing through 3’oh, from the bouncing Rock of Ages to the Hot Club rhythms on Bill O’Malley’s. All three players slip into that easy bluesy groove, somewhere between Flanagan and Grappelli. Slow and sultry or fast and furious, this trio is a delight to listen to. There are a few rough edges, but so there should be in traditional music. The last track puts it all together into a dramatic jig-time climax, first slow and modal, then injecting some pace for a joyous canter to the finish.
Alex Monaghan

How Do You Know?
GnatBite Records, GBR101
10 Tracks, 42 Minutes
Widely known and lauded for his multi-instrumental abilities, Tim Edey has taken a different approach to his latest album, How Do You Know?, and it works amazingly well. The new album is weighted heavily in favour of songs and the showcase of Tim’s song writing abilities. With six songs and just four instrumental tracks on there, and whilst I could listen all day to Tim doing tunes, it’s an appealing change to listen to the same creativity he brings to the tunes with, unleashed this time onto songs.
The Elevator Blues is an especially personal song to Tim and kudos to utilising his musical talent on this to raise both funds and awareness for a fantastic and much needed cause, The Trevor Mann Baby Unit. The honest humour in the song is immersed in a languid blues vibe that intertwines guitars, drums and bass with a brilliant dobro treatment from Owen Nicholson who turns to the electric guitar for Moment in Time, weaving around Edey’s soft vocal alongside percussion, piano and sensitive accompaniment from Lizabett Russo (the new Bjork) and Gordy Duncan Jr.
The title track is one that evokes happy session memories for its pure engagement. The Tucker Zimmerman track, arranged by both Tim and Robin Wynn Evans, stands out for the combination of harmonic vocals and instrumentals that includes a touch of Steve Cooney on bass and Dermot Byrne on the box. Another memory is unleashed on Three Miles from Annascaul; that time listening to Tim’s sensitive guitar treatment in a small pub in the midst of Tipperary as Seámus Begley applied his sweet vocal to this beautiful song. Tim’s version garners equal respect, both on the vocal and from a stunning backdrop of instrumental conversation between Tim’s melodeon and Duncan Jr’s drum. The instrumental tracks on the album are, as always, expressively rendered with highly innovative arrangements and a huge wow factor goes to both The Box and Fiddle Party and the exquisite power behind the piano, melodeon and Charlie McKerron’s fiddle on Hector the Hero.
How Do You Know? is a showcase of wide -ranging creativity in music and Tim Edey, once again, raises his invigorating musical bar even higher than before.
Eileen McCabe

The Producer’s Choice
Temple Records. COMD2108, 19 Tracks, 72 Minutes
So here’s the big question, how do you condense 30 albums and 40 years of work into a 19 track album, so that it is both representative of its own history and at the same time stands on its own feet as a complete recording? I can imagine there were a few options, ask the fans, bring in a curator, or go to the well that has kept the band recording since the late 1970’s.
The well in question is Robin Morton, the man who understands their sound, who has worked with the various iterations of the group, bringing the best out of a mix of instruments, players and singers. The full list of those is Duncan MacGillivray, Jamie McMenemy, Alistair Russell, Brian McNeill, Dougie Pincock, Alan Reid, Sylvia Barnes, Alasdair White, Sean O’Donnell, Iain MacDonald, Ged Foley, Mike Katz, Davy Steele, Pat Kilbride, Ewen Henderson, Jenny Clark, John Gahagan, John McCusker & Karine Polwart.
Robin Morton has skillfully woven the tracks and created an album that runs naturally from the opening first track, the Scottish pipe medley Tending the Steer to the final live cut of the very Irish sounding song and reel; Ship In Full Sail. The liner notes reference the original albums, but don’t give the dates they were released. To build up a picture of the band’s shifts over time, you can access more in depth notes online via a link on the sleeve.
Davy Steele’s The Last Trip Home is a superb song, a lament for the last plough teams of horses. Pat Kilbride has a version of Jimmy Crowley’s The Bachelor with some lovely interplay between cittern and mandolin here. Alasdair White (who also plays with the Alan Kelly Gang) is featured on his own composition the Ballarat Jig; it has a splash of Riverdance behind its ears. The Hammond organ features on Alan Reid’s, The Road of Tears, a story of emigration, Highland clearances and Celtic displacement, subjects that still resonate today given the current refugee and enforced emigration crisis. Pipes feature on a number of instrumental tracks: the current piper Mike Katz on Tynes in Overtime, Ian MacDonald on The St. Louis Stagger set and Ged Foley playing Northumbrian small pipes on Blackhall Rocks.
Jenny Clark sings on Seven Braw Gowns / Miss Macleod’s Minuet from the 1979 album Stand Easy. Do I have a favourite? Track 4 is Brian McNeil’s Lads of the Fair. It first got on my ear on a bootleg tape in the 1980’s, and it has stood the test of time. It is far more complex than I remembered and bears considered listening. In many ways it embodies the motto of the band, Forward with Scotland’s Past. This album could well have been called Forward with the Battlefield’s Past. This is a testament to an evolving living tradition and the stewardship of Robin Morton.
Seán Laffey


The Boston States
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 48 Minutes
I first came across Katie McNally when she dropped in her debut album to the Irish Music Magazine stand at the Cavan Fleadh. She was good then, but boy you should hear her now. Having begun as an Irish fiddler she got the Cape Breton bug around 2003, and if you don’t live in Inverness, Mabou or Cheticamp, there is no better place than Boston to be immersed in those Cape traditions. Boston was the birthplace of Jerry Holland and has been a temporary home to many fine Cape fiddlers for the past century.
The Boston States opens with Colin Macintosh’s and the Black Horse. If you want a one shot espresso of Cape Breton music, it’s all here. The attack of the fiddle that would lift a corpse in a kitchen, the piano bounces, there’s an extended improvisation on the keyboards and then a blast of the pipes from their guest Finlay MacDonald. The band strip it down to bare essentials on The Martlet, wandering along a rocky ledge until it hits the heights on Father John Angus Rankin’s. There’s a passage here where Katie explores the deeper end of the fiddle, it’s an earthy, rough edged, authentic moment of raw sound. There’s depth too from Shauncey Ali who brings his viola to the party. Watch out for the pizzicato on the Polliwog/The Claw. This is modern Celtic music, with shadows of Lúnasa and Flook, doffing a Boston scally cap to an international style. Throughout the album Katie is connected to the soul of the music. She has the drive, absorbed the tradition, and I bet she’s brushed shoulders with the likes of Colin Grant of The Sprag Sessions. It’s the inner groove she has that moves each number along, call it syncopation, the beat, the feel; it’s the stuff that divides the musicians from the players. It’s not all Katie front and centre either, pianist Neil Pearlman is given free reign on the lyrical beginning of the McNally’s of France Hill. One name looms large here and that is the late Joe Cormier, whose archive McNally delved into in Boston.
A superb album, and certainly one of the best modern Cape Breton records of the past ten years. Just one caveat, the liner’s text is almost unreadable, too feint, too small. Let’s hope Kate puts the notes online soon. This is an album to spend many happy hours with. This will be a comfort to those longing for the music you find on the north side of the Canso Causeway; it should be a compulsory purchase in Kidston Landing.
Seán Laffey


Alana & Leigh Cline
Scimitar Records, SRD1601, 10 Tracks

Toronto based Alana & Leigh Cline is a fiddle and guitar duo.
Fiddler Alana ventures into Irish music, having taken two years of Skype lessons from Maeve Donnelly and being the first Canadian to attend Meitheal in Limerick in 2008. Leigh (guitar) has a number of albums under his belt, including forays into Balkan and Greek music. The pair has a fondness for Cape Breton music, with Leigh having co-authored a book on fiddle and guitar in the Cape Breton style. That Cape Breton accent permeates Alana’s fiddle playing throughout this CD.
This album is peppered with some fine Celtic tunes, seven of the ten tracks being predominantly Irish tunes, with Alana showing mastery of such pieces as Pigeon on the Gate, The Monaghan Twig and the Swallowtail Reel. She begins track seven with some clever variations on Drowsy Maggie. Alana’s Cape Breton fiddle comes to the surface on the Black Mill, with some characteristic double stops towards the end of the tune before it shifts into Crib of Perches. There is a full-on band set with the Whinny Hills of Leitrim as the duo enlist Bill Kervin on bodhrán and Loretto Reid on whistle to flesh out the slipjigs, with the bodhrán and whistle kicking in from the very first note, giving that track a spirited session feel to it. Leigh is at his most interesting on guitar on the Kerry Lassie set, playing the foil to Alana’s fiddle.
The duo slow things down for Huntingtone Castle, the version they had from Cape Breton’s Sandy MacIntyre. It is a gorgeous slow air and the longest set on the album running in at 9 minutes. It is one of the older tunes Alana plays, composed by John Bowie, who lived from 1759-1815 in Scotland. This was one of the first tunes Alana learned from Sandy MacIntyre. She spent over a ten year period with him from age eight, and it is evident she absorbed the full range of Cape Breton fiddle techniques during that time.
Leigh drives Elizabeth Kelly’s and Gusty’s Frolics on a chopped guitar and there’s a diversion to the Balkans on Leigh’s own Offset. The duo consult with Doctor O’Neill’s and visit Coleman’s Cross, before the closing set, which begins with a short Mason’s Apron before culminating in the Canon Reel. If you are looking for a good example of Cape Breton fiddling, then Alana’s Mason’s Apron showcases the strong beat and attacking bow that is so typical of the island’s tradition.

Seán Laffey


The Magpie’s Nest
Own Label, 9 Tracks, 35 Minutes
Ailbhe Nolan hails from Dublin, whilst her musical partner on this album Robin Hurt was Belfast born. Raised in Scotland, he relocated to Dublin for many years before settling in Wexford. The opening track begins with a version of the haunting hornpipe Galway Bay on concertina with subtle accompaniment. A change of tempo leads into The Golden Eagle played with flair and drive, with a pulsating groove on guitar. Next comes the title track, a song entitled The Magpie’s Nest. A ballad style song, this track exudes a strong male vocal line. A catchy vocal tune from Hurt is enhanced with concertina lines, further adding to the unique sound this duo has created.
A nice selection of slip jigs follows, played in a simple, traditional style. No Gods and Precious Few Heroes is an impressive track with good flow, balance and blend between the duo. The jigs selection are uncluttered, again a clear, distinctive melody is articulated in a nice, relaxed manner. This album is a good example of session style music, suited perhaps to the pub / live music scene. The repertoire is simple; it’s easy to listen to and there’s something catchy about it as well. The distinctive, alluring voice of Hurt appears again for The Loch Tay Boat Song, whilst it is Nolan who takes over in the driving seat for the last two numbers. The Princess Royal sounds well in this setting in B minor, followed by an interesting arrangement of The Copperplate Reel Set.
An enjoyable recording. Recorded and mixed at Audioland Studios in Kildare by Anthony Gibney.
Edel Mc Laughlin

Cosmic Trigger CI216-1200, 15 Tracks, 51 Minutes
Startlingly good. Quite simply, this is one of the most lavish productions I’ve come across in years. Starting off, I thought the backing was entirely slick, but who has a synth of this quality? Then a little burrowing revealed that there’s nothing artificial: there is a full orchestra here, recorded in Windmill Lane studios by Brian Masterson. This is a prodigiously ambitious own label production from Máiréad. This is a collection of originally composed pieces by Máiréad herself, Colm Ó Foghlú and Liam Bates along with well known trad tunes arranged into suites, including excerpts from the Heroes of the Helen Blake, written by Liam Bates to commemorate the 1914 Wexford lifeboat tragedy when nine men from Kilmore Quay were lost. Liam conducts the orchestra here as well. She revisits her previous work on Raining Up, with orchestrated versions of Captain H, Bovaglies Plaid and The Butterfly.
When we hear the word “crossover”, it normally means someone is trying to sneak in rock riffs or Balkan rhythms into Irish music. This time, though, the link is to classical music, and Máiréad, fair play to her, proves she is fully at home in both houses. She has lovely vibrato, not overdone, and equally a lovely lifting lilt in the slip-jigs. There are a full 77 names I counted in the thanks list. And that’s not counting the dancers. I noted the name of Noel Eccles among those involved; formerly in the symphony orchestra and one of the units of Riverdance.
The music is developing: we no longer have to survive on cheap instruments and little or no tuition. Máiréad is a great example of what is possible once old barriers have been removed. This pioneering effort deserves all the success it can get.
Available at Tower Records and Claddagh Records nationwide and online at, and iTunes.
John Brophy

Far From The Tree
Sleight of Hand Records, SOHR1601CD, 10 Tracks, 49 Minutes
Here is a bunch of London based musicians putting Celtic manners on Folk. Their name is Cornish for Three, evidently they have a liking for music from the Western fringes of these islands. The trio are Dominic Henderson (uilleann pipes and whistles), Tommie Black-Roff (accordion), James Gavin (guitar and fiddle), with Gerry Diver working his magic on production. They have worked together to makes a wonderfully rich-textured album, opening with Reeds & Fipple; it’s Henderson’s piping tune that recalls Trevor Dunkley at his best You Slosh days. This is wild and wonderful, no apologies, go for a big sound and drive it on for five minutes. Low whistle, piano accordion, fiddle, a guitar that gives a bass foundation, but it’s never a straight melody. There’s counterpoint, little bite size passages of tone, strong rhythms on accordion, with the guitar filling out the bottom end of jigs and reels, and ever-so-fluid whistles. No drums here, so the music has to provide its own stomp.
Having recorded The Banks of Newfoundland myself I was delighted to hear another version, and with a new verse of too to add to my rendition. The Hosting of the Sidhe is ethereal, haunting, otherwordly, like a broken window in an abandoned church, jagged shards of light sends shafts of colour through dusty gloom. They drop the pace as the accordion glides around on their own composition Ivy Scarlett’s Waltz, this segues into Backseat Driver another of their own making but this time turning its face to Nordic polskas.
They tackle the Child Ballad, False Lady deftly avoiding the potholes of folk rock pastiche. Huntely Town is from the Scottish tradition, you may know it as Bogey’s Bonny Bell. Here the delivery is poetic, and half sung with no cod Caledonian cant.
The lads cite John Doyle as an influence, but there are many more here under the surface and this album was two years in the making. They have had the time to get their own sound nailed down. That journey from Kickstarter to the album tour is outlined on their website. If you ever consider a trio is too small a unit to make great music with, listen to Teyr and marvel at what is possible when three heads are in the same space.
Seán Laffey

La Flûte Traversière En Bois
Bemol Productions, BEMO 079, 10 Tracks, 35 Minutes
In recent years the label Bemol Productions have chosen to highlight instruments in a collection entitled “An Instrument – An Artist”. After the fiddle, the bagpipe, the accordion and the guitar, it’s now Anne Girard Esposito, a musician living in Brittany, to introduce her instrument of choice, the wooden flute.
After starting on classical music, Anne discovered Irish music thanks to a record of Frankie Gavin’s. Quickly she turned to traditional music and she made numerous journeys to Ireland, where she met famous musicians, trained with them and claimed their influence. Let us quote the Irish musicians Harry Bradley, Kevin Crawford, Paul McGrattan, but also the Bretons Sylvain Barou, Jean-Michel Veillon or Erwan Hamon. Without forgetting Desi Wilkinson, the Belfast flute player who had a strong influence on the young musician.
The superb album that she offers to us now, is a digest of delicacy, sensitivity but also homogeneity and serenity. We could be transported to an evening by the fireplace in a Breton cottage, or maybe a house in Connacht. As Anne lives in Brittany, what could be more natural than to start and conclude the album with a Breton traditional gavotte Nozvezh kentañ ma eured.
Brittany is also present on An aotrou Koadrioù ha Janig Riou. But Ireland is not far since we can listen to traditional Irish tunes: Binsin Luachra, Sean Bui/James McMahon’s/The Rannafast or Girls, will you take him? We also find a Scottish air Bidh Clann Ulaidh and a Polish tune Gdzie ty jedziesz Jasiu.
The accordionist Johnny Og Connolly also has his place as well as the Breton guitarist Soïg Sibéril. Finally Anne put her mark on two tracks Lille Klara & Sweet Rain and Sous les Arbres.
This album was built as a series of short little stories and the whole album harmoniously binds these together. Most of the arrangements are by Anne herself and friends whom she asked to accompany her on the album: Julien Biget (guitar & bouzouki), Pierre Stéphan (fiddle), Guillaume Vergoz (bodhrán) and Janick Martin (accordion).
All along the album an atmosphere settles down, a charm operates, landscapes take shape. An impression of serenity emerges from this musical pearl. A true success.
Philippe Cousin

The Spinning Wheel
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 50 Minutes
It’s an irony of suburban existence that you can be living within a couple of miles of somebody, yet never hear tell of them. That’s what happened with me and Darren Lynch, and sure, now I’m delighted to claim him as a neighbour. At first Darren was a boxer, and then a writer before the music took hold. Then after the Feekers he went solo in 2013. This is a true folk album, content to let the songs do the work, with no synths or post-production, just an occasional helping hand from friend Derek Copley and Ais Conway Keogh. Good timber needs very little varnish.
The suburb or village of Ballyfermot was only built and occupied in the early 1950s, but good luck meant that famed musical families like the Fureys and the Keenans were on hand to pass on the music and the mindset of real performers. Most of the songs are quite familiar, some have become fixed into the bouzouki repertoire, blame another Dublin folkie Daoire Farrell for that. Case in point McShane from the Plains of Kildare and then there’s an old favourite from the 70s folk club days, a song from Liverpool, Go Sea Once More.
There’s a great honesty in hearing somebody who understands the songs and treats them with respect: this shows the many hours spent in sessions absorbing not just the words or notes but the whole atmosphere that goes with them. The time was never wasted.
Darren backs himself on the bouzouki, and of course there are homages to Andy Irvine here, including Willy of Winsbury. It has been said Andy got it from Anne Briggs and played it on a borrowed zook from Johnny Moynihan. On such small things folk music movements happen. A quick check on sleeve notes reveals the songs Follow Me Down To Carlow And The Wind That Shakes The Barley; you really need a history lesson to appreciate all the references.
But this album shows that the music is in safe hands for another good while, and it’s a companionable friend to shorten the road.
John Brophy


Draiocht Na Feadoige
Clo Iar Chonnacht, CICD197, 21 Tracks, 70 minutes
Neansaí comes from one of the most musical localities in the country: Indreabhán, from a family background steeped in music.
On this excellent album Neansaí is joined by a large crowd of guest musicians: Jack Talty: piano, Michael Hynes: flute, Cliodhna Ni Fhiannachta: fiddle, Aisling Ni Fhiannachta: fiddle, Johnny Og Connolly: accordion, Darren Breslin: accordion, Tommy Mellett: accordion, Eoin O’Neill: bouzouki, Johnny Connolly: melodeon, Meaiti Jo Sheamuis O’Fatharta: uilleann pipes and Paddy O’Fiannachta on bodhrán.
This is a flute player’s album. The tunes are taken in hand comfortably, there’s no rush, and yet the tunes never plod or stumble. From the outset on the reels, John Brennan’s, we can hear every note, every articulation; Neansaí’s breath control is faultless. Her accompanists sit behind the tune allowing the flute to carry the day. With Eoin O’ Neill on bouzouki and Jack Talty on piano, she has created a core trio that weaves its weft through the album. Neansaí takes a back seat for a few bars as Johnny Og Connolly trips out the hornpipe Máistir Chor na Rón. The next track is a big number, the famous slow air Táimse Im’ Chodladh, she builds it up slowly with the piano only coming in after a few turns of the melody. She exudes fun on the slip jig Redican’s Mother, the accompaniment here is especially sensitive from O’Neill. The album closes with a set of Paddy O’Brien reels, played by an ensemble that includes Meaití Jó Shéamuis on pipes and the boxes of Tommy Mellett: and Johnny Connolly:
The extensive liner notes run to 24 pages and are full of anecdotes, painstakingly researched and referenced. There is a nostalgic photograph, pictures of musicians and family who have shared music with Neansaí over the years. Meaití Jó Shéamuis, the RnaG broadcaster, and himself an accomplished traditional musician writes, “This is a great record, an example of the best that traditional Irish music has to offer, and the first to come from the steady hands of Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha”.
I for one would not disagree with him on any count.
Seán Laffey

Sacred Earth
Celtic Collections, CCCD1100, 11 Tracks, 43 Minutes

Many years ago, I was in a late night session in Doolin. I had a Ford Fiesta outside, so I was on Rock Shandy. In the pub also on minerals, were a few teenagers playing away as if there was no school tomorrow. When the night closed a bunch of lads asked for a lift up the hill; that was my first meeting with Eoin O’Neill, Sharon Shannon and Mary Custy. I thought maybe these kids will go far.
We all know the story. Sharon has gone far, gone on to make many an album, right up to this latest one, Sacred Earth. Recorded in Wicklow, and at Real World Studios in the UK, in Chicago and at Jack Talty’s in Lissycasey, County Clare.
The cover sings of summer skies and outdoor parties; that’s the genre that Sharon has made her own, The vast majority of material here is indeed Sharon’s, with some co-write credits with long time guitarist Jim Murray and keyboard maestro Alan O’Connor.
Entitled Sacred Earth, the album comes with world music credentials. There are dozens of musicians involved in the project. A new departure is the inclusion of African music blending with Sharon’s Celtic swing. The crossover comes courtesy of Joe Csibi on bass and upright bass, Justin Adams on guitar, Abass Dodoo on a range of African percussion, and Seckou Keita on the African Lyre harp; the Cora.
So to the tunes. The Machine is a Turkish night in a Spiegel tent. It punches out a hard hitting political message about the state of modern oligarchies, step forward as the language changes to French, then back into hip hop. Sharon has been known to give the older generation of musicians a turn and on Sacred Earth Finbar Furey turns up the sad to 90, on the Old Jim Reeves song He’ll Have To Go…
There isn’t much room for melancholy in Sharon’s world though. Soon we are back having a mad time with Frenchie’s Reel … a dash of Quebec with some Nova Scotian piano if you don’t mind. The title track is a mixture of clapping, electric guitar and a repeated motif on the accordion. It’s hypnotic, and at five minutes long it has enough time to pull you in. There’s a lovely quiet moment in what is the most European sounding track on the album, when Jim Murray’s nylon strung guitar picks out the tune of The Merry Widow, Sharon joins as the pair become lost in a romantic languid waltz. Cara Robinson wakes us up with some swamp stomping on Let’s Go, Sharon coming in and out with Cajun squeezing, just right for a Saturday night in Baton Rouge or Broadford.
Sharon has been the Fiesta Queen of Ireland for over 25 years. Is there anything here that might have the same traction as the Black Bird or the Galway Girl? The public has a huge choice, but if I were to put my money down, the final track The Bull Fiddle or Bas Pelles will appeal to the box players amongst our readers. The rest of us can kick back and enjoy the sunshine party of Sacred Earth.
Seán Laffey