‘At First Light’ from Idir(May 03, 2012)
The Uilleann pipes played an integral part in my passion for Irish music and much of that has stemmed from the masterful John McSherry who (it seems) has been around forever. OK, maybe not forever but enough to have contributed to some of my all time favourite CDs. A project that has run throughout McSherry’s career ‘At First Light’ features the talents of Donal O’Connor (fiddle, keyboards), Francis McIlduff (bodhran, Uilleann pipes, whistles) and special guest Ciara McCrickard (vocals, fiddle).
At times, we in the ‘folk’ world can appear blasé in our attitude towards musicians of this calibre after all there are enough of them around but if we’re honest we should count ourselves a lucky musical genre to boast such riches and that is what we have here, an abundance of riches. The opening set of tunes ‘The Magnificent Six’ performed at a moderate tempo is an example to all aspiring ‘folk’ musicians that speed isn’t everything in order to achieve appreciation and in particular the final tune of the set McIlduff’s ‘Tara’ capturing his Jack Russell’s character will make you think you know the dog intimately.
The addition of McCrickard’s vocals is a pleasant surprise breaking up the instrumental pieces and is particularly effective on the recently much covered (Kate Rusby & Jim Moray) ‘Courting Is A Pleasure’. In conclusion it has to be said that not every track stands out and indeed may appear somewhat pedestrian to those who like their sets with a bit more fire but if you do require that ‘fix’ check out ‘The Pipers Of Rougery/The Hag At The Spinning Wheel’ where you can’t fault the technical ability of all concerned. (Own Label AFLCD201 101)
Reviewer: Pete Fyfe