Éamonn Coyne & Kris Drever
Storymap (Reveal 014CDX/Compass Records, 2013)
Two of the finest instrumentalists in the Scottish Celtic music scene join forces on Storymap. Éamonn Coyne plays banjo and tenor guitar and is well known for his involvement in Treacherous Orchestra and Salsa Celtica. Kris Drever is a vocalist and guitarist, part of the much-admired trio Lau.
Although the image and sound of the banjo normally makes you think of bluegrass and Appalachia, Éamonn Coyne has perfectly adapted the American instrument to the Celtic music world, incorporating a captivating Irish and Scottish musical essence. His colleague Kris Drever sings on a few tracks and plays mostly guitar and some mandolin, infusing his musical influences into the duo’s sound.
Storymap includes an impressive list of guest appearances: Eliza Carthy on vocals, Simon Bradley on fiddle, Megan Henderson on fiddle and harmonium, Calum McIntyre on drums, Nico Bruce on double bass, Eamonn Nugent on bodhran and Alan Kelly (Eddi Reader Band) on accordion.
Most of the material on Storymap consists of traditional pieces (jigs, reels, marches, etc.) rearranged by Coyne and Drever. “Our playing on ‘Storymap’ is often quite symbiotic” says Éamonn Coyne, “as is the way we go about choosing and arranging the music in the first place. Often traditional in origin we make the tunes our own and we hop from idea to idea, which often arrive almost fully formed, with relative ease. It is not complicated music or arranging of course but we love its simplicity and that is one of the attractions.
“One source of the title ‘Storymap’ comes from the different ideas and origins of the tunes; like having an idea and then filling in the pieces – “let’s play a couple of Marches with a couple of Reels” etc. It also comes from (without trying to be over analytical or prosaic) the continuing journey Kris and I are on in our music together. We have an idea what the album should sound like based on the music and arrangements and then go for it and see if it still fits that idea. ‘Storymap’ is a continuation of the loose vibe we created and enjoyed on ‘Honk Toot Suite’. The next story is always just around the corner and that is also what the title and the music of ‘Storymap’ is also saying – it is just another album in the bigger picture. We don’t intend to stop there.”