Margeson On The Music November 08

Claddagh RecordsMargeson On The Music

Christmas approacheth. Gift ideas here. Lots of reviews this month, lots of ideas. To get down to these 12 albums, we had to listen to, literally, about a hundred. So they are ALL good. See what appeals. Then hear what appeals. Just order them from Claddagh, and you can get to them through this site—or go direct to the artists after you visit their sites. Brace yourself, Bridgid, here we go:

1. Heartstring Sessions—Maire ni Chathasaigh Chris Newman Arite McGlynn Nollaig Casey

The truth is we’d buy an album of these particular musicians tuning up and playing the scale. Maire is the best Celtic harp player in the world. The same arguments can well be made about Chris and Artie on guitar and Nollaig on fiddle. A joy. And, a lovely surprise in a guitar duet on a very American, Saturday Night Shuffle. Maire’s, Lament for Limerick is the most beautiful piece on the album, and that is saying a lot. Maire and Nollaig are sisters, Artie is married to Nollaig while Chris and Maire are partners, as well. Keeping it all in the family is an inspiration, and produces one of the best albums of the year. Rating: Four Harps

2. Tuned Up Brendan Mulholland Brendan Hendry Paul McSherry

There are 10 cuts on this album, and it is an early qualifier for Instrumental Album of the Year. Derry musicians Mulholland on flute, Hendry on fiddle and McSherry on guitar have produced the virtually perfect instrumental album. These lads can play! No fuss. No frills. No production gimmicks. Just straight ahead trad played perfectly. There is always, always more than enough room for musicians of this caliber using this approach. Welcome, lads! You have played a blinder! Fab! Rating: Four Harps

3. Pictures in Time—–Out in the Fields Matt Keane and Orlaith Keane

Matt Keane has been our fav Keane family singer for a long time. We have also long lamented the fact that he didn’t record more Now he has!! And, he’s still got it! Bigtime. Pictures in Time is the newest of the two albums. It is a joint production with his daughter, Orlaith. Stunning. First, it must be said that Orlaith clearly shows the Keane legacy is in very good hands. Matt sings,a couple, Orlaith sings a couple. Wonderful. The first time we ever heard I Wish It Would Rain was on a wonderful Lynn Morris bluegrass album a few years ago. We always think no one can equal Morris on anything. Wrong. Orlaith shows a depth of maturity here and a gorgeous voice, all her own and all-Keane at the same time. What to say about Matt? He could sing the phone book and we’d be there for it. Out in the Fields has been out a few months, and is Matt in solo. Both these albums are thoroughly entertaining and Irish to the very core. We think we may well be listening to Male Vocalist of the Year here, and Orlaith has to be on the short list for Newcomer of the year! Rating: Four Harps

4. Jimmy Keane and Pat Broaders—-bo Ho Ho Hola—bohola

First of all, bohola fans know the band does not capitalize the “b” in its name. Save the e-mails. Two albums here from the lads. Jimmy Keane and Pat Broaders are entering their tenth year of bohola. A great decade. The first album, titled for the two, is a great collection of song and instrumentals. No one sounds like bohola, and no one else could really even try this. Magic at the deepest level. Bo-Ho-Ho- Hola is a Christmas album, and the real only “must have” for the holiday season. The tops in holiday fare, a wondrous mix of tunes, songs and stories, it is a real, true Irish Christmas experience. Just perfect. It joins The Chieftain’s, Bells of Dublin and Kathy Cowan’s, A Kiltartan Road Christmas as the absolute zenith of the genre. Two new albums from the best piano accordion player in Irish music (Jimmy) and the beautiful voice of Pat Broaders playing a bouzar ( a guitar with a bouzouki neck!!). This is the best. Period. Rating: Four Harps

5. Up and Coming—Oisin Hernon Conal Hernon Carl Hessison

Oisin and Conal are 16 and 13, respectively, as of the time of this recording. Oisin is on the button box, Conal on the banjo. Of course, it goes without saying they come from an incredibly talented musical family. The immediate family, including the brothers, has 17 All-Ireland titles to its credit. To hear two musicians this good, this mature and this young can get depressing. Stunning. Stunning. This much talent and their whole lives ahead of them. Who wins? All of us! Especially us. We get to hear them for years, God willing. Get up,’ya boyos! It is on Clo-iar-Chonnacta. Is this label capable of producing anything less than perfection from each of its artists? Rating: Four Harps

6. Consider the Source—Brian Conway

We first heard Conway at a special concert for Andy McGann last year at the Irish-American Heritage Center in Chicago, along with Joe Burke on button box and Felix Dolan on piano. The resultant live album won a number of Awards, and rightly so. This is a lively 14 tunes and a beautiful song, Highland Mary by Niamh Parsons. Guest musicians are sitting in, including Billy McComiskey on button box , Joanie Madden on flutes and whistles, and Felix’s son, Brendan on piano. Terrific. We MIGHT have preferred one of the many pics not to be showing Brian displaying his great teeth through so many smiles, but we quibble. The music is the thing here, and it is lovely. Rating: 3 and ½ Harps

7. Unearthed—-Paul McGlinchey

This superior Tyrone flute player offers a real treat in this all-instrumental album. Great. Great. And, he really is the definitive northern flute player, his phrasing and tone so redolent of the area. Lots of great side cats add a real sense of depth here, and really aid Paul in showcasing his sensational style and phrasing. A treat. A treat to be sure. Love real, pure Irish flute playing? Here it is. Rating: Four Harps

8. Humours of Highgate—John Blake Lamond Gillespe Mick Leahy

We met John Blake at the recent Dublin Pipers’ Club event, Piperlink, in Chicago. We felt like a kid, such is our admiration. Blake took part in one of the all-time, all-time great trad instrumental albums of a few years ago, Tap Room Trio. He is a perfect guitarist in accompaniment on trad music, and a brill flute player. Joined here by Lamond Gillespie on fiddle and Mick Leahy on bouzouki, guitar and banjo, this is another gem. We were equally thrilled in meeting John, as well by getting the opportunity to alert you to this album, which is a serious, serious contender for Instrumental Album of the Year. Why mince words? You will love this. Find it!! Rating: Four Harps

9. The New Shoes Nuala Kennedy

A great flute player, Nual’s first album is a winner. We are late to the date here. This has been out for some months, and we need to tell you that she is a gift—BUT—while some of the tunes prove what she has to offer, some seem disjointed and out of sync with the rest of the album. All in all, this is great stuff. She has wonderful musicians sitting in. Like a lot of young players, she needs to chart her line between trad and a more modern sound the best way she can. She is a musician to watch—and to hear. Rating: Three Harps

10. Far, Far From Ypres—Greentrax Music

There are only a few labels that can compete with Greentrax in producing wonderful music and magic, but none better at it. This double album is an exhaustive study of the songs, music and poems of WW I. It is a treasure for the Scottish historian, or anyone who loves history. This takes you there. It is the heart of the tragedy—from funny music hall songs of the day to poems that will rend your heart. This is the best of the best—a great, entertaining album that is also important. Very important. As usual, Greentrax comes up trumps. Rating: Four Stars, and wish we had more !!

Author: Bill Margeson

Presenter liveIreland and WDCB Chicago. Irish American News Chicago USA, Irish Music Magazine Dublin, Ireland. Pub Quiz Promoter Chicago. IrishFest Milwaukee patron and reviewer.

Share This Post On