The Expatriate Game

THE EXPATRIATE GAME - Traditional Irish And American Music
Day Job Records Dcd106

Having already reviewed this for Tykes’ News (The West Riding’s Mighty Folk Organ), I may actually meet the Draconian Deadline, so here goes.

What I told TN was that traditional Irish and American music is definitely what we get, played by three of the finest musicians that you are likely to hear. They are Duck Baker (US-born guitarist), Ben Paley (fiddle player of US parentage) and Maggie Boyle (singer and flautist of Irish parentage). The music consists of three songs from Maggie (mostly Irish), a song from Duck (slightly Charlie Poole-based) and nine delicious sets of tunes which lap back and forward across the Atlantic with consummate ease.

Maggie’s songs are ‘Bonny Portmore’, ‘I Am A Youth That’s Inclined To Ramble’, and ‘The Banks Of Claudy’, (from the O’Copper family of Ballyrottingdean). She also adds great vocal to ‘Kitty Lie Over’, which Michael Crane describes in his excellent insert notes as a ‘charming tune/ditty’, while neatly encapsulating their musical philosophy with “They …consider the tension between the Irish and American sense of rhythm something to play with rather than iron out.”

As the listenings repeat (and believe me, they certainly repeat), it all starts to make sense. Guitar, flute and fiddle weave seamlessly in and out of the tunes until there’s nobody driving, no passengers, just three wonderful musicians making wonderful music.

Reviewers rarely get a second chance, so I relish this unusual opportunity to tell TLT what I neglected to tell TN – this is a great record. Duck Baker gives what is basically a guitar masterclass throughout, mixing object lessons in both lead playing and accompaniment. Ben Paley shows himself to be Mr. Appropriate, providing flair and empathy in equal parts. Maggie Boyle, as well as playing some champion flute, has a voice to stop the clock on your wall and the heart in your body.

Credit for the superb quality of the recording can be laid at the attic door of Mike Hockenhull. Good job all round.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 63 of The Living Tradition magazine.