Declan Sinnott • I love the noise it makes
At age 61, Declan Sinnott, has released his debut solo album, I Love the Noise It Makes. Any trad fan will have heard Sinnott before, whether they know it or not. Sinnott has played guitar for Mary Black, Christy Moore and the list goes on. This album shines a different light on Sinnott than fans are accustomed to: the spotlight.
Apart from some songwriting collaborations with Owen O’Brien, I Love the Noise It Makes is a solo record in the strictest sense. Performed and produced by only Declan Sinnott, the record’s intention is to do that which Sinnott seems to have been avoiding in his 40-year career. But it seems the time was finally right and listeners will be delighted to hear Sinnott’s unbridled perspective for the first time.
A masterful guitarist in the Celtic world, Sinnott blends and blurs the lines acoustic and electric throughout the record, while surprisingly abandoning the traditional Irish folk sound almost entirely. I Love the Noise it Makes is very much a pop album, exploring elements of blues guitar in the title track as well as reflecting the Americana folk vocal harmonies in “I See the World from Here.” His arrangements feel like tributes to the long list of influences that have crafted his sound in his decades-long career. Start to finish, the collection of tracks are a complex portrait of Sinnott’s own musical tastes making it not only enjoyable to listen to but fascinating to piece together.
Alyth McCormack & Triona Marshall • Red Gold
Both veteran musicians whose friendship and now professional kinship began during their years touring with The Chieftains, vocalist Alyth McCormack and harpist Triona Marshall released Red Gold late last year, their first collaborative effort as a duo. Triona Marshall has a resume a mile long and has worked with everyone from Ry Cooder to James Galway and Cara Butler. The Portloaise native is one of Ireland’s premier harpists and proves with this record that her ear for arrangement and understanding of subtlety have been fine-tuned to perfection in her lengthy career.
McCormack, no slouch herself, has become a household name in traditional Scottish and Irish music. A pure and crystal-clear voice, McCormack has lent her voice to over 23 albums in her career, which have spanned from collections of ancient Gaelic folksongs to contemporary jazz.
Red Gold has its moments of brilliance and its share of growing pains. The seasoned vocalist that McCormack is, her sound is confident and driving throughout the record; however, the choices she makes are not always the wisest for her range. Most noticeably in the opening track “Crazyman Michael,” McCormack’s vocals can border upon shrill. The instrumental breaks are often a welcome relaxation. In “Mar a Tha (The Way It Is)” McCormack shines, her voice reflecting that clarity fans have grown to adore from her.
While overall, McCormack’s vocals are an engaging element, the true magic of the record comes in the instrumental dance between harp and violin. In almost every track the harp fluctuates from being a luscious landscape for McCormack’s vocal storyline to being a dazzling and captivating narrative of its own.
Celtic Thunder • Voyage I & II
Voyage is the seventh incredibly successful Public Television special by Celtic Thunder, that almost mythic group that blends the theatrics of the stage with the beautiful melodies of some of Ireland’s most booming voices. In anticipation of the Voyage tour, the group released this CD-DVD set which takes its viewers and listeners on a journey with Celtic Thunder inside of their performances.
The set is like a front row seat to the culture phenomenon that Celtic Thunder has become. Even after losing their golden boy Damien McGinty to Glee fame, the group maintains its youthful appeal with newcomer Emmett Cahill joining the ranks. The collection, in classic Celtic Thunder fashion, includes several solo numbers for each member and a track list that ranges from the thrilling Irish language “Dulaman” to an endearing rendition of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” It’s a collectors item for any Thunder fans and a worthwhile watch/listen for any newcomers.