After being one of the most recognisable voices on the Manchester folk scene for five decades, Pat Walsh decided to record her first solo album to hand down her favourite repertoire for the tin whistle to the next generation. Simply Whistle is a collection of nineteen tracks centred on this small but expressive instrument, produced under the guidance of Michael McGoldrick with a line-up of stars including John Doyle and McGoldrick himself.
The tunes she has chosen for this album are a mix of traditional scores, modern folk pieces and self-penned compositions, mostly reels and jigs, with a few exceptions. Simply Whistle opens with the set of reels The Teacake Reel / The Bellydancer, followed by the set of flings The Forgotten Fling / Miss Galvins and jigs Baby Matthew’s Jig / Emmet’s Hedgehog; an excellent choice that immediately introduces her style of playing and a good sample of the repertoire she intends to share.
The darker Claudia’s Waltz opens the second half of the album with a brief but intriguing change of mood, before reels and jigs come back to restore the joyous atmosphere this release is infused with. Other highlights include the superb march and reel set The Fingal Cave / Sporting Paddy / Tie the Bonnet, the reels Master McDermott’s / Taylors Fancy, two tracks featuring McGoldrick’s woodwind playing alongside Walsh’s whistle, and the slow reels set Kissing Cousins / John Sindt’s Favourite, the latter a tribute to the skilled craftsman that makes her whistles.
The pace at which Walsh plays these tunes is the optimal one: not very fast, but also not deliberately slow, an excellent choice that enhances the melodic qualities of the compositions and allows her to show an extraordinary level of dexterity at the same time. However, there is no lack of energy as this album is packed with cheerful pieces, played with the skill of a veteran and the passion of a young soul.
With its well-pondered and sometimes slightly vintage sounding arrangements, the enthusiasm that oozes from every track and the quality of ornamentation, Simply Whistle is a great release for all whistle players and lovers around the globe and a milestone for everyone willing to take the instrument or just explore its qualities and repertoire, exactly what Walsh was aiming for. Mission complete.Michele Mele
Released on CD and digitally on 22 September 2020, produced by Michael McGoldrick
1. The Teacake Reel / The Bellydancer
2. The Forgotten Fling / Miss Galvin’s
3. Baby Matthew’s Jig / Emmet’s Hedgehog
4. Fr. O’Grady’s Trip to Bocca / Sheamus Henegan’s
5. Humours of Whiskey / Seamus Ennis’ Lark in the Morning
6. Fingal’s Cave / Sporting Paddy / Tie the Bonnet
7. The Pondering Jig / The Diplodocus
8. Master McDermott’s / Taylor’s Fancy
9. The Lost Jig / The Box Man
10. Claudia’s Waltz
11. Poolbeg Chimney’s / The Ivy Leaf
12. Old Rafferty’s Apple / Rosie’s Wedding
13. The Red Gates / Larry’s Favourite
14. The Love of Lucia / Heart Shaped Wood
15. Kissing Cousins / John Sindt’s Favourite
16. Caoineadh an Spailpin / Pass the Baby / John Griffin’s Fancy
17. Eanach Mhic Coilin / The Music Room
18. Statia Donnelly’s / Marian’s Trip to Collooney / Humours of Ayle House
19. The Mystery Reel / Naughton’s