Review Archive

‘the olllam’ from John McSherry, Tyler Duncan and Michael Shimmin

(December 04, 2012)

Take natives from Belfast and Detroit, cross the influences, talents and styles, add a dream and you the olllamhave ‘the olllam’ from John McSherry (uilleann pipes) Tyler Duncan (uilleann pipes, whistles, guitar, Rhodes) and Michael Shimmin (drums and percussion). And what of the dream? The ‘ollam’ of ancient Ireland were the stuff of legend – they were members of the ‘filí’, guardians of the Celtic oral tradition, prophetic poets who could see the future and spoke in verse form. The inspiration? To symbolise those ‘ollam’ bards across through diversity of multi-influenced music.

Whatever your view on legends, McSherry, founder of Irish group Lúnasa and  Duncan and Shimmin from Irish-innovators Millish, have created ‘the olllam’ an album awash with unexpected twists and turns that provides the listener with lavish, layered melodies, delivered through dextrous flair and consummate skill.

From the calm mellowness and intense progression of the opener ‘The Belll’ through the dancing intricacies and purposeful essence of ‘Three Signs of a Bad Man’ to the excited exuberance of ‘Bridge of Glllass’ there’s a constant weave of tradition, innovation and surprise. Someone once said ‘expected the unexpected’ – with ‘the olllam’ that’s exactly what you get. The ‘ollam’ of legend thrived on the sheer depth of their all-embracing skills, intriguingly veiled mystery and their perfected mastery of their art ... little changes with their contemporary counterparts McSherry, Duncan and Shimmin.

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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