Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Turlach Boylan - "Shame the Devil" - Big Plain Records BP3203

Turlach Boylan is an Irishman living in America, one of a breed in many ways more Irish than the Irish. He's true to his music, and on this his second recording you'll find little that isn't traditional in spirit. His first recording The Tidy Cottage, on the same Texan label, was a refreshing and sightly experimental affair. This CD is altogether more solid: Turlach shows maturity and control on flute, whistles, banjo and mandola, and the arrangements are spot on.

Of the two dozen tunes scattered across fourteen tracks, three quarters are traditional Irish material. In addition, there are three Boylan compositions and two by E.J. Jones: more of him in a minute. From the outset we're firmly in the traditional idiom, with Turlach swaggering through a couple of well-known reels in a style somewhere between the rushing of Cavan and the staccato tonguing of Belfast.

Track 2 reveals Boylan's gift for the composition and playing of slow airs. Since his All Ireland triumph in this category in 1986, he has perfected his flute technique to the point where it's hard to think of an equal. His charming waltz Summer Dream towards the end of this CD is further proof of a prodigious talent, and indeed all the slower tracks here are a joy to hear.

E.J. Jones surfaces on track 3, a Scottish piper playing his own memorable compositions on smallpipes. The simple snare-drum accompaniment is about as intrusive as the backing gets on Shame the Devil, and while pipes and drums may be a little hackneyed it adds considerable lift to this track.

And so it goes on. Virtuoso pieces such as The Acrobat sit alongside classics like Vincent Campbell's Mazurka, while Turlach alternates between flute and whistle with a few banjo tunes thrown in for good measure. There's the occasional technical slip, and the odd moment where an injection of pace wouldn't go amiss, but basically it's all sound as a bell and rings just as true.

Shame the Devil is available from, and if 47 minutes isn't enough for you, try Turlach's earlier album too. He also plays with the group Glen Road, which includes fiddler Mike Dugger of Sunrush: catch them if you can!

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 45 of The Living Tradition magazine.