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TONY REIDY - Round Tower Blues

TONY REIDY - Round Tower Blues
Private Label TRCD04

Tony Reidy is a singer songwriter from Co Mayo who has been quietly plying his trade in Ireland and elsewhere releasing three albums of quality material. His latest album is his fourth release and offers a different approach to some of his previous releases which had evolved productions with elaborate arrangements and various guest musicians and contributors.

The idea was to keep it simple, bring it all back home. The songs are all folk songs, songs that people can sing anytime, anywhere – they’re not big productions. The recording process was stripped back to allow that. There’s so much music out there on the internet, but the only music that makes sense to me is music that you can play with and to people. Music is a communal thing. And I believe a song should stand up on its own, and not need to be over produced, if it’s any good,” he told The Mayo People on the album’s release in December 2015.

The simple approach works here as the secret to Tony Reidy’s songs is their simplicity and intimacy. They create an atmosphere when rendered in the spare pared back style in which they are delivered here. The opening, Devilment (They’re Dancing Down In Tooreen), lopes along merrily with some galloping 5 string banjo and guitar behind Tony’s laconic vocals. A comparison here can be made with The Sawdoctors’ allegiance to the local and the colloquial which equally works albeit on a bigger scale. Tony Reidy’s use of local imagery captures both a sense of place and time – a local community dance with an unlikely visitor. This sense of the locally surreal is continued in Hippies In Dress Suits in which a group of returned emigrants emerge again upon a local dance and proceed to rip it up – this provides a link with a home left behind for the bright lights and opportunities of London. Again this sense of the local creates a warm romantic atmosphere made palpable with the sparse ending. Tony’s breathy vocal style adds a pliable sense of realism. On the other end of the scale is He’s Getting Ready, an account of a countryman building his own coffin for his impending death rendered as a statement of personal intent to live by one’s own rules in the face of death, yet delivered with a wry personalised vocal style. Playing guitar, mandolin, keyboards, banjo and harmonica Tony goes for simplicity and style over more elaborate production. Simple it may be as an approach but the songs pack a punch that is both obvious and insidious. This is a work of maturity and craftsmanship of which Tony Reidy can be proud. Get it.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.