Music Reviews

By Tara Dougherty, Music Editor
August / September 2012

At First Light • Idir

A debut release from the newly formed At First Light, Idir is a perfectly-paced, delightful addition to any Irish library. What sets Celtic music apart from most other genres is that any handful of one’s favorite artists are just a moment away from collaborating on new projects. Formerly of Lunasa, John McSherry and Michael McGoldrick have long been in high demand on the scene, working on endless projects together and separately, most of which have gained accolades at every turn.

Their new project brings even more experienced talent, and it seems the more experience and time this duo has allowed themselves, the more spark their creativity has gained.

McSherry and McGoldrick have definitely expanded in this new project. The album has remnants of that Lunas signature sound, but the unique rasp of Donal O’Connor’s fiddle is just one element, particularly on the track “Ar Thoir an Donn,” which makes Idir breathe all on its own. While the album is mostly instrumental, the very welcome vocals of Ciara McCirckard on “Aird Uí Chuain (The Quiet Land of Erin)” are gorgeously mastered in a way that detracts nothing from the fabulous instrumentation.

At First Light have stormed onto the scene as a new act with this album, a definite triumph, proving that all its experienced players are truly ripened.


Marie Reilly • The Anvil: A Dedication to Michael Reilly

Fiddler Marie Reilly released The Anvil this spring, an eighteen track tribute album jam-packed with rare and ancient folk songs whose roots lie in southern Leitrim and Longford. It is a lively and sentimental collection, paying tribute to her late father, Michael. A debut album, it carries a wealth of traditional tunes and echoes the sounds of a Longford style that is too often overlooked. The final three tracks on Anvil were recorded by the late Michael Reilly himself.

Reilly’s transitions throughout the album’s medleys are flawless. “The Vermont & The Friendly Visit” hornpipes are a particular highlight early in the collection, toeing the line between the kinetic fiddles energy and the sullen tone of a hornpipe rather masterfully. Reilly seems most at home, however, with her reels; attacking the notes without the hesitation that can at times overshadow a debut release. Overall, The Anvil is a gentle collection. With simple and modest production, it is a “living room” record–a perfect soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon.

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