Darren Maloney

Own Label

Good question. From County Cavan , and relatively unknown even inside Ireland (two apparently unrelated facts), Darren Maloney is among the hottest and fanciest banjo players I've ever heard. On a par with Seamus Egan or Enda Scahill, he's not too far behind Brian Kelly either: he also writes some great tunes, many of them on this debut CD. So why haven't we heard of him before? Well, Cavan is a little off the beaten track, and judging by the cover photo Darren doesn't get out much. But I bet we'll be seeing more of him now.

From the quirky ‘Atholl's slip-jig’ to the ramrod-straight ‘Reel des Cinq Journelles’, through the jauntiness of ‘Annaghmakerrig’ and the gentle sweetness of ‘Vonnie's’, the banjo bobs and weaves over percussion and guitars. ‘Kandy Girls’ is a wonderful tune, capturing the twirling, twinkling fun of Kandyan dance. Singing in Irun adds a charming Hispanic touch, and sits well with Bela Fleck's catchy jig ‘Maura on a Bicycle’. Darren's own compositions are joined by classics old and new: the reel ‘Catharsis’, the jig ‘Con Cassidy's’, and others.

Who? is one of the most enjoyable and impressive debut albums to come my way in years. It's fresh and lively, technically first class, and full of respect for the music. In these days of everyone making a CD in their garden shed, it's a rare pleasure to hear one as good as this.

Alex Monaghan