Songlines, June 08
“Tour guide to Irish music old and new”
The fifth volume in Nascente’s Experience series ventures into Europe for the first time to turn its focus on Ireland. The familiar format remains the same: a two-disc survey of Ireland’s music with a 40-page booklet offering a cursory introduction to all things Irish for the would-be visitor. If you’re after a ‘things to do, places to see’ tour guide, this set, with its poorly edited booklet, isn’t for you and should be avoided. If, however, you’re looking for an intelligently chosen, thoughtfully programmed survey of traditional Irish music that blends approaches to performance old and new, then this 38-track compilation, put together by Songlines contributor Geoff Wallis, is a simply essential purchase. There’s a wealth of material here, with especially memorable tracks from the likes of concertina virtuoso Chris Droney, uilleann piper extraordinaire Willie Clancy, fiddler Ciarán Tourish, singing sisters Maighread and Triona Ní Dhomhnaill, and legendary ensemble The Bothy Band. Contemporary balance – and evidence of just how vital and varied Irish traditional music is at present – comes in the form of spellbindingly varied contributions from vocalists Mary McPartlan, Lasairfhiona Ní Chonaola and Róisín Elsafty, and exciting here-and-now offerings from the likes of the deliciously eclectic all-Ireland quintet Téada and the international powerhouse ensemble Gráda. If you can’t get to Ireland this year, this will show you what you’ll be missing.