Sunday, March 14, 2021

Ireland's Music: John Doyle: The Path of Stones

John Doyle is a top class arranger, producer, songwriter, and guitarist. That may explain why his on solo projects are a bit far between. It could also explain, at least in part, why they are well worth waiting for.

The Path of Stones is Doyle’s most recent solo album at this writing. It’s a project which draws on all those aforementioned skills along with several others. It is the Irishman’s songwriting and singing however which are to the forefront on The Path of Stones.

That said, the opening track and the first single from path of Stones was a song from Ireland’s 1798 Rebellion, about says, Doyle, “a rambling rake from Clare” who eventually escapes to America. County Clare in the Republic, or Clare townlands in County Tyrone in the North? That’s a matter for discussion. Doyle, comes down on the side of Clare in the Republic, though. He made a few adjustments to the melody but otherwise kept to the tradition for the song he’s known for many years. It’s called The Rambler from Clare.

That proves a good starting point for the journey which Doyle leads through the rest of the album, nine more tracks, all of which are of his own composition.

There’s the lively and intrigung tune called Elevenses, which finds Doyle playing high 5 string guitar and mandolin in addition to guitar, joined by Mike McGoldrick on flute, bodhran, and other percussion.

Lady Wynde offers a tale which sounds as though it could have come from long ago, with Doyle’s strong tenor and Cathy Jordan’s haunting supporting vocals adding depth to the story, helped by Duncan Wickel’s contributions on fiddle and cello.

Doyle is a graceful singer and a fine storyteller. For the title track, The Path of Stones, he drew inspiration directly and indirectly, from another Irish artist, William Butler Yeats. If you are familiar with that poet’s work or images, you’ll find how Doyle has drawn from them in the song. If you’re not, you may be inspired to go look Yeats up. The song stands on its own, though. Melody, lyric, image, and story will give you much to think on long after the song is done.

There are other gems on The Path of Stones. All the tracks are well worth your listening, repeated listening in fact. They are by tunes reflective and upbeat, haunting and uplifting, song and tune alike.

Doyle produced the album, which was recorded in Sligo in Ireland and in North Carolina in the US. In addition to singing and playing guitars and mandolin, Doyle plays harmonium, mandola, fiddle, bodhran, bouzouki, and keyboards on various tracks. In addition to McGoldrick, Wickel, and Jordan, he’s joined from time to time by fiddler John McCusker and Rick Epping on harmonica.

John Doyle's web site

Photograph of John Doyle with green scarf courtesy of the artist,photograph of John in performance made at The Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow by Kerry Dexter with permission of the festival, the venue, and the artists. Thank you for respecting copyright.

You may also wish to see
The Alt, a recording John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy, and Eamon O’Leary
John’s album Shadow and Light
John’s album with Karan Casey, called Exiles Return.
John often collaborates with Cathie Ryan. Learn about her album Through Wind and Rain

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