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Whirling Discs WHRL019

I expended some 400 words on this trio’s debut offering back in 2009, but today’s more stringent guidelines entail my trimming the exposition! Hence: The Unwanted comprises Sligo singer Cathy Jordan (of Dervish) and fiddler/guitarist Seamie O’Dowd with Californian banjo/concertina/harmonica player Rick Epping, and their music gleefully and naturally brings together the folk traditions “from the Atlantic fringe”.

Pay Day, their second album, kicks off with a pair of time-honoured Sligo polkas, played with all the exuberance that’s a hallmark of the down-home session-style bond that these musicians possess. This bond is just as strongly in evidence on delicious old-timey numbers like Who Broke The Lock? and Weevily Wheat, the title track’s John Hurt-style country-blues and Rory Gallagher’s insouciant Don’t Know Where I’m Going. Even more persuasive, though, are Irish traveller song, The Tri-Coloured House (a variant of Scarborough Fair), unexpectedly set to a chirpy uke rhythm, and Ozark hymn, The Old Churchyard. In contrast, rejoice in the glorious seven-minute medley whereby morris tune Old Molly Oxford segues into a two-step and a backstep! Then, essential moments of comparative repose are achieved almost effortlessly with the plaintive What Will We Do When We Have No Money? and the gentle, wistful parting-song, Sweet Roseanne. Elsewhere, one repertoire choice that might at first raise eyebrows is Phil Lynott’s Thin Lizzy stomper, It’s Only Money, which really rocks with life-affirming bonhomie – proving you can’t keep a good song down, especially in a good session. Honest deep joy – so unwanted these guys sure ain’t!

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.