Martin Hayes & the Common Ground Ensemble - Peggy’s Dream

2023 studio album

Peggy’s Dream - Martin Hayes & the Common Ground Ensemble

the bright young folk review

Martin Hayes is surely one of the most acclaimed fiddlers of his generation. His dexterity and ability to give a new life to old material, particularly to tunes from East Clare, have gained him world-wide fame. His new album Peggy’s Dream, recorded with the Common Ground Ensemble, is a tribute to the memory of his mother and of Dennis Cahill, and sees him going back to his roots to collect some old classics, mainly from the Irish traditional repertoire.

The common Ground Ensemble is pianist Cormac McCarthy, cellist Kate Ellis, guitarist Kyle Sanna and bouzouki, concertina and harmonium player Brian Donnellan. All musicians involved in this nine track release come from different musical backgrounds, but their diverse styles contribute to forge a unique and coherent sound throughout the album.

Both on more traditional sounding tracks such as The Longford Tinker and Johnny Cope / Hughey Travers’ Reel and in more boldly arranged pieces such as the epic Water of Boyne and the gloomy Garrett Barry’s Jig, with its impressionistic passages before the actual tune becomes wholly recognisable, the settings reveal Hayes’ trademark lightness of touch and inventiveness.

Changes of pace, stunning solos by the different members of the line up, grains of jazz and cinematic music and Hayes’ typical adventurous approach are the key features of another milestone in the fiddler’s long and varied career. The archetype of the concept behind Peggy’s Dream might be recognised in the lyrical The Glen of Aherlow or on the final track Toss the Feathers, where tradition and modernity meet to enchant the listener with a whole array of variations and an exhilarating solo by McCarthy’s piano.

Accessible and yet highly personal, bold and yet balanced, Peggy’s Dream is one of those albums that gets right to the soul, an introspective voyage created to be shared with others and to reveal new surprising details at every listen.

Michele Mele

Released by Faction Records on 4 May 2023 on CD, vinyl and digitally.

1. The Boyne Water
2. The Longford Tinker
3. Ca Bhfuill an Solas
4. Peggy’s Dream
5. Johnny Cope / Hughey Travers’ Reel
6. Garrett Barry’s Jig
7. The Glen of Aherlow
8. Aisling Gheal
9. Toss the Feathers

Martin Hayes & the Common Ground Ensemble discography