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JOHN O’SHEA - Irish Guitar

JOHN O’SHEA - Irish Guitar
Kerrymount Records KRYMT001

There is an easy way for the editor to fill the letters page of this magazine, and that’s by opening up a discussion on “what is folk music?” John O’Shea’s opening comment in his liner note is: “I dunno what it is, but it’s not trad”, but he counters that a few lines later by saying, “every individual take on the tradition is valid in its own way”. These are thoughts you might have as you listen to this CD, but you’re more likely simply to listen to and enjoy some masterful guitar renditions of both traditional and modern compositions.

John is a Masters graduate of Thornton School of Music in LA and has featured with the RTE National Concert Orchestra and the Dublin Philharmonic, amongst others. His classical training is reflected in his easy borrowing from many styles, influencing but never overpowering the traditional well from which the music is drawn. There are flamenco riffs and flourishes, outstanding tremolo technique and fingerpicking of astonishing dexterity.

Mostly this is a solo album, but John is accompanied by the fiddler Anna Jane Ryan on a couple of tracks, adding an extra depth to the whole release. With sets of reels and jigs as well as slower airs, there’s plenty of variation in the type of material and the overall effect is really to bring the guitar back, as a solo instrument, into a field of music which is more usually predominated by other ones.

Short answer to your first question, John – it’s terrific!

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.