by Kerry Dexter

Not your slam the beer on the table sort of songs, nor yet the over sentimental pieces often associated with this time of year. If you’re open to Irish music a bit beyond the usual, here are

Wayward Son Guitarist and singer John Doyle plays seventeenth century songs with such energy and insight that they might well have been composed yesterday, Standout tracks: Expect the Unexpected, Wild Colonial Boy

Somewhere along the Road Cathie Ryan delves deep into Irish history and landscape, and remembers the American side of her history as well. Songs in both English and Irish, with spare production by Ryan and John McCusker, and some outstanding guitar work by (see above) John Doyle. notable cuts: the title track is a knockout, both for the song and the singing. also Rathlin Island — 1847, an insightful emigration song which connects to the present day, and the joyous romp Carrick –a rede which opens the disc.

a column about Ryan’s most recent album, The Farthest Wave

Far From the Hills of Donegal
Oisin McAuley, fiddle player from Danu, makes his solo debut with a fine selection of covers and originals. Though you may have heard him in the band for years, you’ll certainly want to give a listen to what he has to say on his own. outstanding cuts: Tune for Gillian, Lover’s Ghost/Maud Miller, Quebec Reels

Reunion: A Decade of Solas Irish American Band Solas was irish when it wasn’t Riverdance. Energy connection, fun, and all kinds of great musicians from past and current band configurations.
outstanding cuts: Pastures of Plenty, The Newry Highwayman, Lament for Frankie

more commentary on Irish music

Kerry Dexter writes about the arts and creative practice — and a lot about Irish music — at Music Road

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