Led by the accordion playing of Luke Daniels, the trio play traditional Irish music with great delicacy and lightness of touch.
Art of Trio is an entirely appropriate name for the album, the three instruments, accordion, fiddle and guitar, blending seamlessly with effortless skill, art indeed.
Two themes give the album a strong direction. The fiddle playing tradition of Donegal, home of Kate Kavanagh, the trio’s own excellent fiddler, is the first. Using archive material, the tunes of Con Cassidy and from further back, the unrelated Frank Cassidy, provide inspiration for many arrangements.
The second theme is music of Irish descent which has circled home from Canada and North America.
Many tracks encompass both. Track 2, the first of two jig sets is a fine example. ’Father Tom’s Wager’ originally recorded in 1920’s America is followed by the more recent ’Cirque D’amour’ from Ontario and finishes with Con Cassidy’s jig.
There are three songs among the myriad tunes. The first, track three, is a soft and quite unemotional version of ’Reynardine’. This is a song I’ve always liked since hearing it sung by Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention. Daniels makes an excellent job of this, arranging and singing it very well. The sleeve notes say the lady’s end is ambiguous. Maybe but not, I suspect, good. It’s not often you see the word werefox on a sleeve note either, more reason for praise!
The second song once again brings the album’s two themes together again, quite unusually this time. ’Blooming Bright Star of Belle Isle’ is a rather curious song, originally thought to be from America. Gently but clearly sung on this arrangement over an archive recording of a Con Cassidy interview about Frank who plays a 1920 recording of ’Myth Island’ in the background. Clumsy to explain but very effective.
The third is the beautiful Raglan Road, which has Daniels playing piano and singing. Instrumentally there is everything you could expect from a traditional Irish set and more, jigs, reels, marches, hornpipes and a lovely waltz. This last, as with all the music, is light and deft, with the guitarist Mike Galvin picking a delightfully sketchy waltz time.
The guitar works well throughout, never a rigorous, strumming alternative to percussion but always weaving in and out of the tunes providing structure and harmony.
A fine album from three very fine musicians. The playing on this recording is exceptionally good and it repays careful listening. My only slight reservation is that on occasions Daniels is capable of playing the accordion so fast and skillfully that the music slips slightly into second place.Martin Pain
Released by Wren in late 2009.
1. Reels. Paddy Mac’s, Glasgow Session, Beare Island & The Kylebrack Rambler
2. Jigs. Father Tom’s Wager, Cirque D’amour, Con Cassidy’s
3. Song. Reynardine
4. Reels. Seán sa Ceo, The Gooseberry Bush, Máire O’Keeffe’s
5. Waltze. The Speaking Waltze
6. Marches. Gallagher’s and La Marseillaise
7. Song. The Blooming Bright Star of Belle Isle
8. Barndance & Reels. Untitled, Ostinelli’s & Millburn
9. Hornpipes. The Independent, The Old Blackbird, The Second Star
10. Jigs. The Frost is all Over, Rakes of Clonmel, Seanduine Diollun, Slieve League (slip jig)
11. Song. Raglan Road
12. Reels with Hornpipe. MacCathal’s, Roseland Barndance, Tom Ward’s Downfall, The Wise Maid