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 darent 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 Connollys 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 Fishermans 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 dont 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 Connollys 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
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.