‘Songs of a Roving Blade’ from Dónal Clancy - timeless songs from an enduring tradition(April 01, 2014)
My grandpa had a saying to cover anything that was so good it always lived up to and usually exceeded your expectations. “Tim,” he would say, “breeding will out.”And although he was mostly talking about horses, here’s another example of the truth in that old man’s words - ‘Songs of a Roving Blade’ from Dónal Clancy. If you want to touch the traditional soul of Ireland and bathe your ears in the heritage that lives in its song and stories you need go no further.
The lyrical legacy left to Dónal by his father and uncles is clear to hear and it’s partly this family songbook that lives and breathes through this album. Like many a thoroughbred Irish singer, when Dónal sings you’re whisked away to other times and places. You hear echoes of those eternal voices that still remain long after their owners have passed beyond this world. An enduring tradition that remains as fresh and vital now as it was generations ago. And with custodians like Dónal its future looks safe and secure.
The timeless songs on offer include an old family version of ‘Mrs McGrath’, ‘Rosin The Bow’, the longing of ‘The Broom of the Cowdenknowes’, splendid takes on the working songs of the sea ‘Sally Brown’ and ‘Heave Away My Johnny’ and of course, songs of rebellion with ‘The Sean Bhan Bhoct’ and ‘Roddy McCorley’ recounting tales of rebellion against British rule of 1798.
Recognised for his time with Solas and Danu, this solo album is Dónal reflecting with a deep regard on family and culture to deliver songs that are integral to his birth right. You can find Dónal's website here: donalclancy.com
Alongside Dónal on selected tracks on ‘Songs of a Roving Blade’ are Martin Murray (mandolin, banjo, fiddle) Benny McCarthy (accordion) Donnchadh Gough (bodhrán) Seán Ó Fearghail (fiddle) David Power (uilleann pipes) Mary Rafferty (accordion) Pat Sheridan and Karan Casey (backing vocals).
Reviewer: Tim Carroll