Shadow and Light: Irish Music from John Doyle
John Doyle is a Irishman long resident in America, a creative guitarist and composer who has worked with artists including Alison Brown, Michael Black, Tim O’Brien, Joan Baez, John McCusker, and Cathie Ryan, to mention just a few. He is a founding member of the landmark Irish American group Solas, worked with Susan McKeown in the band Chanting House and released a duo album with Karan Casey. So the man stays busy enough.
Though he’s written and co written songs for other artists, on his earlier solo albums Doyle has focused mainly on songs from the tradition, with deft and original guitar playing and arrangement which make them sound as fresh as though they’d been newly written. Here, he reverses the choices he made on his earlier projects: there’s one song from the tradition, Bound for Botany Bay, and nine originals, seven of them songs and two tunes in which his guitar work comes especially to the fore.
It’s all good stuff, strong material with stories well told, melodies creatively played, and words sung in a voice that well fits both. Doyle’s arrangements balance his voice and guitar just as they need to be to serve the stories and the music. Alison Brown on banjo, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Todd Phillips on bass, and Kenny Malone on percussion are among the artists who sit in with Doyle on the project, which he produced himself. It’s all well worth your listening. Several cuts to take especial note of, though, are Little Sparrow, which Doyle wrote for his daughter, Liberty’s Sweet Shore, inspired by the Irish emigration experience at Grosse Ile in Quebec, and and the instrumental Killorgan’s Church/Swedishish.
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Music Road: exiles return: karan casey & john doyle
Music Road: John Doyle: Wayward Son
Music Road: Liz Carroll & John Doyle: Double Play