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BRENDAN McAULEY - The McCartneys Of Pennyburn 

BRENDAN McAULEY - The McCartneys Of Pennyburn 
Copperplate COPP027

A well known London Irish musician, piper Brendan McAuley has composed most of the material on this recording inspired by his family's history in Derry in the late 19th and early 20th century. Subtitled 1865-1912, it covers three generations of a prosperous and prominent Catholic family in the North of Ireland. While not overtly political, the events commemorated here were tied up with the Irish nationalist movement and the eventual partition of Ireland.

Brendan plays pipes, flutes, whistles, concertina, keyboards, various stringed instruments and percussion. He also sings the traditional song When My Love And I Parted and provides vocals on a couple of other tracks. The style of his music ranges from pure traditional (in fact a set of two old Irish reels) to the classical Cassie's Farewell To Parnell and the New Age Folk feel of the opening air The Last McCartney Of Pennyburn. Some of the melodies here are catchy enough to be quickly adopted by others: The Phaeton Carriage, Pennyburn Gates and perhaps even the country-style waltz, The Three Kings.

There's a hint of Irish America in several places on this album, from the Chieftains-style arrangement of John Takes On The Railroad to the sentimental lyrics of Brendan's song The Men Of Arranmore. The final pipe slow air, John's Victory, would suit many a ballad band from Derry to Denver. A home recording, this CD is surprisingly clean and consistent: the volume does drop off on a couple of numbers and the multiple tracking means the sound is not as tight as it might be in places, but it's still a very enjoyable listen and the story in the sleevenotes is fascinating. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.