Sharon Shannon

The Daisy Label IRL023

I first saw Sharon Shannon play accordion at an Irish music festival at The Barbican in London in1997, and was struck by her wide smile and ridiculously nimble fingers. Since then she has hiked the trails of Celtic, world and country music to the pleasure of many and the puzzlement of some. There’s a “get back home and stick the kettle on” feel to this forty-five minute album which will reassure her fans.

Is it her album, as the publicity material insists? Or a foursome with illustrious friends Frankie Gavin (fiddle), Mike McGoldrick (flutes and whistles) and Jim Murray (acoustic guitars)? This is clearly Sharon ’s project, but the product is a truly collaborative supersession of excellent ensemble playing. All four arrange the traditional tunes and contribute original ones, with Gavin’s ‘The Cappataggle Shuffle’ and McGoldrick’s ‘The Road to Corandulla’ giving a sharp generational contrast. Irish music predominates, but there are also traditional Asturian tunes, and tunes from Scottish musicians Allan MacDonald, Fred Morrisson, Donald Shaw and Adam Sutherland.

The last set of tunes is ‘King of the Pipers’ and ‘The Bucks of Oranmore’, and the artwork features a fetching photograph of an overturned wheelbarrow. So could it be any homelier? Well, yes. This is trad-with-a-twist, with McGoldrick’s influence and the rhythm section of John Joe Kelly (bodhran), James Mackintosh (percussion) and Tony Molloy (bass) helping to fix many of the tunes in a too-familiar contemporary soundscape. Against this, there are two sets which hark back to the ceilidh bands. Overall, it’s enjoyable fare which will satisfy many appetites and sell well – soda bread and bannocks, with capuccino to follow.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 62 of The Living Tradition magazine.