St. Patrick Sounds

Susan McKeown - Sweet Liberty
Susan McKeown – Sweet Liberty
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner it’s once again the season to wrap yourself in the warm green glow of some fine Celtic music. Whether you are refreshing your Celtic collection with the latest releases, golden oldies or those quiet gems that might have passed you by, World Music Central has some fine picks for your listening pleasure.

First up are two wonderful CDs that fans might have missed but should be on everyone’s St. Patrick’s Day playlist. Sweet Liberty, release in 2004, and Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs, released in 2006 by Susan McKeown are two gloriously sparkling CDs full of that heartbreaking Celtic loveliness that is Ms. McKeown’s trademark.

Luna Park by the group Kíla, released in 2003 on World Village, is another one of those CDs that might have gotten lost in the shuffle, but is delightfully rich Celtic fusion. Drawing on Celtic, folk and world influences, fans will enjoy the genre interplay on such tracks as “Glanfaidh Mé,” “Wandering Fish” and “Maith Dhrom.”

The group Solas, of Another Day, Waiting for an Echo and Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers fame, has released For Love and Laughter out on Compass Records. This CD opens with the raucous romp “Eoin Bear’s Reel/Tune for Sharon/The Rossa Reel” and goes on to wow with tracks “Tilly’s Jig/The Happy Traveler” and “John Riordan’s Heels/Hiban’s White House/The Lisnagun Jig.”

Real World has just released the soundtrack I Could Read the Sky with Iarla O’Lionaird. Best known as the lead vocalist for Afro Celt Sound System and previous solo recordings Invisible Fields and The Seven Steps to Mercy, I Could Read the Sky is the evocative soundtrack to director Nichola Bruce’s movie I Could Read the Sky, based on the photographic novel by writer Timothy O’Grady and photographer Steve Pyke.

No Irish collection would be complete without the classics and if you are talking classics you are talking The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The live recording Reunion with such great tracks like “Isn’t It Grand Boys,” “Whistling Gypsy Rover” and “Red Haired Mary” will have fans kicking up their heels in sheer delight. The Rising of the Moon: Irish Songs of Rebellion and Come Fill Your Glass with Us are two more classic recordings by Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers that no collector should be without.

In the 1970s, highly creative folk bands revolutionized Irish music. Among them, the Bothy Band stood out. Listen to 1975: The First Album, Old Hag You Have Killed Me, Out of the Wind into the Sun, or try the sampler The Best of the Bothy Band. Other Irish folk classic albums that belong in everyone’s collection include: Harvest Storm by Altan, Redwood by supergroup Lunasa, and Volume 1: Sound Magic by Afro Celt Sound System.

New Irish music albums were released in recent weeks in time for Saint Patrick’s. Celtic music fans will enjoy: The Incident by Irish band Beoga that describe itself as a "trad band on anabolic steroids"; Double Play by fiddler Liz Carroll and guitarist John Doyle; the self titled album The Green Fields of America, a band led by the legendary Mick Maloney; and the relatively recent Woman of the House by Irish American band Cherish the Ladies.

We hope we’ve filled your cup with some fine Irish picks and wish you a rowdy good time on St. Patrick’s Day.

Photos: 1 – Susan McKeown, 2 – front cover of 1975: The First Album by The Bothy Band.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.


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