Monday, December 06, 2010

holiday gift list: Irish music

winter berries copyright kerry dexter




The winter holidays are here, a great time for gift giving. What makes a better gift than Irish music? Look into these -- and, indeed, any recording by the artists named here -- and you will want to have several for your own as well as fill out your gift list. If you’ve come to Irish music by way of the stage shows by Celtic Women, the High Kings, and Lord of the Dance, welcome -- and prepare to go deeper into the music of the Emerald Isle. Much deeper. More about that idea here.




Cathie Ryan The Farthest Wave
Resilience and restraint are two qualities which mark Ryan’s work here, both in her singing and in the songs she chooses. Not for nothing was she named Irish Voice of the Decade, and she is also one ocathie ryan calgary2 copyright kerry dexterf the best songwriters around, as witness the title track, a consideration of healing, hope, and courage framed in images of myth and the natural world. To learn more of Ryan’s work, you may like to follow this link.







Matt and Shannon Heaton Lovers’ Well
Lovers’ Well is one of those recordings that reveals more grace each time you hear it. Matt and Shannon Heaton have chosen a mix of not so usual Irish songs about love in its varied guises, along with tunes that are just the right tempo for couples to dance to, and a love song from Thailand, honoring Shannon’s time spent in that country, which somehow fits perfectly. Both the Heatons sing, separately and with fine harmony; he plays guitar and bouzouki, she plays whistles and flutes. If you happen to want to learn to play Irish music, or have someone on your gift list who does, follow the link above also to find out about Shannon's book, Oil for the Chain, which is a fine resource.

Julie Fowlis and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh Dual
Julie Fowlis is from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland; Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is from West Kerry in Ireland. Several years back they found that there are both similarities and differences in the musical traditions of their home places, and began exploring them. This intriguing album is the result.

Liz Carroll and John Doyle Double Play
Liz is an American who plays the fiddle so well that she won All Ireland competitions as a teenager; John is an Irishman now resident in America, a guitarist and singer who john and liz tron3 copyright kerry dexterhas been touring with Joan Baez and has worked with Susan McKeown, Cathie Ryan, and Michael Black and was a founding member of Solas. Liz is also a very fine composer. Plenty of her originals on here, and powerful singing and playing from John on traditional music too.

Donal Clancy Close to Home
The guitar is a rather recent addition to Irish traditional music, and Donal Clancy is one reason why it is such an integral part of the genre now. For this recording, it’s basically the man and his guitar on a gracefully chosen set of traditional tunes in Clancy’s own arrangements. For more on this album see Voices: Donal Clancy



Altan Local Groundaltan rgch copyright kerry dexter
Local Ground for Altan is Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. That’s an area where the traditions of Ireland and Scotland have mixed over the years, producing a tradition that’s both vibrant and soulful. This recording shows that through tune and song, and gives hint of why Altan is still delighting listeners after more than twenty years. also see music of Donegal: Altan




Aoife Clancy Silvery Moon
That's pronounced EEfa, in case you were wondering, and she’s cousin to Donal, above. She’s chosen a mix of American and Irish songs songs well suited to her inviting voice and style for this collection. There’s a stunner of a song about peace in Ireland, too, by another cousin, Robbie O’Connell, called There Is Hope -- look out for that one especially


and if Irish dance is especially your thing, be sure to check out this CD: Ellery Klein & Ryan Lacey: Kick into the Beat

coming up along the music road: holiday gift suggestions for the music of Scotland, the music of America, and music connected to the winter holidays.


you may also wish to see
Music Road: Best Music, 2010
Music Road: now playing: Mary Black: 25 years 25 songs
Music Road: now playing: Karan Casey: Ships in the Forest
Music Road: holiday gift list: music of Canada
Music Road: holiday gift list: American harvest
Music Road: Cathie Ryan: Songwriter

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posted by Kerry Dexter at

10 Comments:

Blogger Alisabow said...

Thanks for this great roundup of albums. Can't wait to check some of them out.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous ruth pennebaker said...

Your reviews of Irish music are simply wonderful, Kerry.

10:42 AM  
OpenID marthaandme said...

Thanks for this. I'm going to get one for my dad - not sure which yet!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Thanks Kerry, for helping sort out the profusion of Irish Music. I now have my husband's Christmas list.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Margulis said...

My husband really enjoys Irish music. I'll have to get one of these albums for him!

3:40 PM  
Blogger ReadyMom said...

These are great suggestions--I like having an idea of Irish music beyond the norm like Lord of the Dance.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Sheryl said...

What a great variety of choices. I'm sure they are all gems....decisions, decisions!

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

I love Irish music. Thanks for these ideas.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Meredith Resnick said...

Such a comprehensive selection. I enjoy your reviews.

11:51 PM  
Blogger jcreaturetravel said...

I have several friends who enjoy different kinds of music so it's great to read your roundup. Plus, I adore Irish music.
Jeanine

11:30 AM  

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