Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Shaun DAVEY Waking Ned  OST  - various artists including orchestra conducted by Fiachra Trench  various singers including Rita Connolly.Fisherman’s Blues - The Waterboys  DECCA 460 939-2 [62:11]


Crotchet (UK)

Amazon (USA)

What is it about Celtic or pseudo-Celtic music that has found an echo in the 1990s? Mysticism and passion melting in and out of the commonplace is perhaps the answer. These qualities were not to the fore during the 70s and 80s. I have not seen the film but judging by the sketchy blurb and pictures which decorate the album insert the film centres around a celebration of Irish weirdness, Guinness, nostalgia and sentimentality sloshing together in a tearful poteen. Sounds good to me!

Shaun Davey has enjoyed some success off the back of the River Dance/Titanic trend. His album (really a song-cycle though daren’t call it that for fear off putting off the punters) Granuaile is one of the enduring classic sleepers of the 1970s. Symphonic, poetic, popular, blazingly inspired, Granuaile, a song cycle for Rita Connolly’s dreamily perfect and raspingly memorable voice is unmatched in all the hoo-hah around the Celtic commercial revival. It stands head and shoulders above the rest.

So, after this prelude, what about this misty slice of music? Well, it is good, but not in the Granuaile league. This is a real Celtic mosaic. There is nothing here to really take issue with except the sad aping of American accents and styles in The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues. There is enough in Irish music on which to draw and develop without this cap-in-hand commercial tribute to the U.S. Deep South. As for the rest we get a wild amalgam of tom-toms, bongos, the occasional Quadrophenia recollection (try Let the Draw Begin if you don’t believe me), bubblingly extrovert pipes, wild fiddle (played by the effervescently stylish Nollaig Casey - sigh!), heavenly choirs, statutory (and irresistible) uillean pipes (the one that make the score for Titanic memorable) and wild wild reels. Rita Connolly blessèd voice is none too prominent which is always a disappointment. Now has anyone ever thought of an album coupling Rita Connolly’s singing with that of the other Celtic angel, Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie). There is a big choral conclusion and intermittently engaging music along the way. However nothing remarkable (at least nothing to match Granuaile) taking the music by itself. I am sure that the music will meld wonderfully with the film.

Out of context it does not hold the attention. However watch out for Shaun Connolly. He is an enduringly strong composer with a fine handle on poetry. Perhaps one of these days I will get to hear Granuaile live.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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