Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Latest in Irish and Irish-American Music | Irish America Magazine, Irish American | IrishCentral

How to Tune a Fish • Beoga

An exciting new release from Compass Records, How to Tune a Fish by Beoga is sure to be a lively hit amongst long-time trad fans and newcomers alike. Eamon Murray’s presence on the bodhran is a dominant one. Trad music is by its nature very percussive, but Murray, a former All-Ireland champion player, demands more than just toe tapping. On the title track he downright steals the show, no easy task in a band of two button accordions and a fiddle.

Beoga is a five-piece band, very appropriately named (‘beoga’ is Irish for ‘lively’) who met at an All-Ireland Fleadh. The five accomplished players turned heads in 2004 with their debut album and will certainly have heads bobbing with this follow-up.

With perfectly woven arrangements and an electric chemistry, How to Tune a Fish is a tongue-in-cheek album packed with life and energy. Tapping into the always welcome bluegrass crossover in “Home cookin,’” Beoga never seems to falter in their vacuum-sealed-tight playing. None of the quintet waiver, but each steps forward to shine on various tracks throughout the album, creating a true ensemble record.

Voices & Harps • Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra

Cormac de Barra has long been the premier name mentioned among a sadly scarce breed: the Irish harpist. De Barra has played with many of Ireland’s best including The Chieftains and Julie Feeney. With roots in Cork, he is a studied and creative harpist, and his partner on this record, Moya Brennan is a fellow harpist and vocalist widely known as the “First Lady of Celtic Music.”

These two Celtic powerhouses come together for their aptly named album, Voices & Harps. The curt name of the album speaks to the very acoustic and sparing production choices throughout the album. And while the album has a simple feeling to it, as though the listener is seated in the room with the band, the intricacies of these expert players’ arrangements and skill of play is, as always, astounding. Brennan’s voice leads many vocal journeys into traditional Irish songs, flawlessly in the track “A Seanduine Doite.”

The album is a must have for any Irish-speaker or lover of the rhythm and beauty of the Irish language. Brennan’s performance of the classic “Taim Breoite Go Leor” is breathtaking and with added harmonies, it is stunningly tragic. De Barra is no vocal slouch himself. Lending harmonies to most of the record, he takes the reins on the haunting “Bean Duch A’ Ghleanna” and does it more than justice.

It is so rare that any piece of music gives the harp its fair dues and this album is entirely dedicated to it. Voices & Harps is a showcase of one of the most underrated and diverse instruments in the Irish trad genre.

Read more:

Music Reviews: The Latest in Irish and Irish-American Music | Irish America Magazine, Irish American | IrishCentral

No comments: