‘Arise And Go!’ from Stephen James Smith and Enda Reilly(November 09, 2011)
Occasionally, just occasionally something truly beautiful, original and enticing comes to your ears. And when it does it strikes deep and lingers long. ‘Arise And Go!’ from Stephen James Smith and Enda Reilly does that and more. It’s a stunning collaboration between alternative-folk musician, Dublin-based, singer-songwriter Enda Reilly and award-winning spoken word poet Stephen James Smith. Together they present the poetry of Padraic MacPiaras, Patrick Kavanagh, W.B. Yeats and Luke Kelly wrapped in powerful words and striking music.
There’s majesty, presence and an indefinable magic emanating from every second of this album. For sure it’s different with the intensely listenable juxtaposition between sung and spoken words – all it takes is one listen and you’re hooked. They dub their genre ‘Spoken Word Sung Verse’ for me it’s pure unadulterated beauty. Not the fragile, delicate beauty lauded by romantics but the enduring, dramatic beauty of Irish verse and music.
From the unleashed power contained in ‘Mise Éire/I am Ireland’ through their superb duo-delivery of Yeats’ mystical ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ to the harsh questioning and anger of Luke Kelly’s ‘For What Died the Sons of Róisín’ with its precisely placed strings – this is breathtaking. These duets from singer and poet reach in and grab you where you live.
The everyday simplicity of life gently related in ‘The Gardener’ gives way to the tremendous authority of another sung-spoken duet: ‘September 1913’. I’ve heard many variations of the emotive ‘Raglan Road’ - none touched my soul as this did. If it raises not a tear to your eye or lump in your throat, then take care your soul has left you. This is quite simply a perfect blend of musicianship, voice and spoken word.
Joining Stephen and Enda are guest musicians Colm O Snodaigh (whistles, flutes) and Elder Roche (piano).
Reviewer: Tim Carroll