On the upbeat

I open this month with a sincere hope that you are all healthy, Covid free, and surviving our isolation with the exceptional music our musician friends provide for us.  The music is truly a healing balm in our house!

New albums are beginning to show up and are proving to be red letter productions. The first I’d like to talk to you about is Dublin based Kevin Meehan’s Spanish Point.  A brilliant tin whistle player, this is Kevin’s first solo album, and it is over the top great!  Kevin is able to take the simple tin whistle and give it life--pushing it beyond sounds you would ever imagine it could produce.  Accompanied by several well know musicians including Four Wind’s Robbie Walsh on bodhran, Cuig’s Cathal Murphy on percussion, Boxing Banjo’s Sean O’Meara on guitar, and Lunasa’s Trevor Hutchunson on bass, Kevin takes us on a traditional musical journey of Ireland and Scotland.  

From the first time I listened to Spanish Point, I have been addicted to both Kevin’s playing and his tune choices, several composed by him.  As you listen to the title track, you can see yourself walking along the Kilkee cliffs and seashore of “Spanish Point” enjoying the salt air and then being uplifted by the powerful crashing waves of the ocean.  “Nusa” and “I Have It Somewhere” are also upbeat get your toe tappin’ tunes that will have you dancing in the kitchen.  “Inches From Dublin,” and “Living Bridge” are stunningly beautiful sets which pull you in with quiet, slow beginnings that then transition into rockin’ in your chair tunes! The “Rockabill Island” will lift your spirits and have you hitting the repeat button continually.

This may be Kevin’s first album, but his successful burst upon the Traditional Music Scene will assure us of more to come.  Available on Kevin’s website, as well as on itunes, Spanish Point is well worth your purchase.

Ashley Davis and her touring band comprised of Colin Farrell on fiddle and low whistles, David Curley on guitar, mandolin, banjo, bodhran, and vocals, Will MacMorran on guitars, bouzouki, bass, pipes, accordian, and percussion, and Duncan Wickel’s strings, cello, fiddle, and guitar have put out their first album, and it is a winner!  How could it not be with such talented band members along with contributing musicians the likes of Mick McAuley, Kevin Crawford, John Doyle,Tim O’Brien, Shane Hennessy, and Heidi Talbot?

Ashley, a beautiful singer and talented composer, is a mentor and a special spark who pushes and encourages others to explore their creativity and work together to compose exceptionally unique tunes and songs. First with The Crannua Collective, and now with when the stars went out, the product of her collaboration with her fellow musicians is a brilliant collection of songs and tunes. She acknowledges on the album notes, the difficulty of hooking up to compose, arrange, perform, and record in our virtual Covid world, and also hopes this album brings those listening “…the same shared joy that it brought its creators.”  That is a wish that is quite assured with songs such as “When He Loved Her, Too” sung with David Curley whose voice perfectly blends with Ashley’s haunting style, and the tender “Not Today” beautifully paired with Mick McAuley.  The brilliant idea of bringing Shane Hennessy in for “Lorem Ipsum” playing of how people can open up to each other, and Tim O’Brien’s addition to “How Will I Live Out My Days?” to give an Americana flair were prodigious inclusions. “How ‘Bout You” and “Here By My Side,” cowritten with John Doyle add a richness to the album that listeners can’t help but add to their favorites list.

The musical quality, both singing and playing, is truly outstanding, and will catapult this album to a top of the releases of this decade.

The third album I’d like to share with you was originally put out earlier this year as an LP release only by the iconic band Beoga.  There was such a call for a CD version, that they have just released a limited edition disc of carousel.  I was thrilled as I had just a year or two ago parted ways with our unused turntable, and at this point have not been interested in investing in a new one, but we’ll see with the new interest in LP editions.

While Beoga has always pushed the boundaries of Traditional music, this album has stretched the limits to quite a degree.  More a move into the pop/soft rock category following their collaboration with Ed Sheeran for his “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan,” they have added electronic musical elements and invited a variety of singers and players of other genres to join them including Ed Sheeran and Foy Vace, Ryan McMullan, American singer songwriter Lissie, and British singer singwriter James Bay.  

The song lyrics are a mix of heartfelt and heartbreaking expressing the feelings and emotions of these difficult times.  What will be most noticeable to you is the electric guitar, keyboards, and the out front beat of the drums.  It is intriguing with exceptional musicality, which we have come to expect from Sean Og Graham, Niamh Dunne, Damien McKee, Eamonn Murray, and Liam Bradley.  I am looking forward to reactions from Beoga fans on this latest show of their expansive talent.

Have a good November and know that on Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks for my music friends!