Donal Clancy, Close to Home 

Donal Clancy loves and knows these tunes. That’s clear from the opening notes of Tommy Coen’s Memories, with which he begins this album of twelve medleys of traditional irish tunes on acoustic guitar.

These are pieces he grew up with in County Waterford, music learned from family and friends, tunes most often played by them on instruments such as concertina and fiddle.

The guitar hasn’t the long history in Celtic music that those two instruments have, and when it came time to create his first solo recording, Clancy welcomed the freedom that gave him to choose pieces he’s loved and lived with over the years, rather than searching for new material to share. What he offers here is playing that’s both melodic and precise, and a sense of clarity and depth that goes beyond the rhythm and the notes.

It also allows Clancy to step to the front of the stage. Though this is his first solo collection, he’s not new to recording or concerts. He’s been part of a trio with his father, Liam Clancy of the Clancy Brothers, and his cousin, acclaimed songwriter and singer Robbie O’Connell, and he has also backed up another cousin, well known singer Aoife Clancy.

Family ties aside, he is a founding member of the band Danu, has played with the Eileen Ivers Band and with Solas, and has supported Kevin Crawford, Cherish the Ladies, the Chieftains, Cathie Ryan, and others on record and in concert. Close to Home is, however, just that: the man and his guitar sharing well loved tunes, slow airs to barn dances, reels to hornpipes, jigs an mazurkas, each played with clarity and grace, inviting the listener to a musical place that is, indeed, close to home. 

Kerry Dexter. former folk music editor at and contributing writer at the folk and world music magazine Dirty Linen, also writes about, music, the arts, and creative practice at Music Road

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