6 Days in Down
03/10/10 16:01 Filed in: Album Reviews
On Six Days In Down, two cutting edge talents on the Irish music scene – the masterful uilleann piper John McSherry and fiddle virtuoso Dónal O’Connor, join forces with the globe-trotting slide-guitarist Bob Brozman, to explore fresh perspectives on the living tradition. Featuring the haunting vocals of Stephanie Makem, the trio deliver an album of startling beauty with splashes of gentle humour.
Bob Brozman is king of the Hawaiian slide guitar and the world’s leading player of National steel guitars. He has spent a lifetime dedicated to playing, researching and recording music from numerous islands around the world, and on Six Days In Down he collaborates with two highly acclaimed traditional musicians from Ireland to bring his uniquely international sound to traditional melodies. A composer, arranger and musician of world class renown, John McSherry was a founding member of top trad band Lúnasa and during his career he has taken the art of uilleann piping to new heights. His critically-acclaimed solo debut, Soma, was released earlier this year. Dónal O’Connor is from a musical legacy of five generations of fiddle players and has toured extensively with bands such as At First Light, which also includes McSherry in its accomplished line-up. He is widely regarded as one of the best fiddle players of his generation.
This album featuring some wonderful traditional tunes that have been arranged by the three musicians such as ‘Cailleach A Shúsa’ (‘The Hag In The Blanket’), which dates to 1850 and is about the Cailleach, a powerful hag in Irish mythology who rules the winter months between Samhain and Beltane. A well-known standard, ‘Bean An Fhir Ruaidh’ (‘The Red Haired Man’s Wife’) is a story of unrequited love for a married woman and this version features two Kona Hawaiian guitars. ‘A Mháire Bruineall’ is a song from County Donegal that was originally composed by Tadhg O Tiománaidhe in the mid-1700s, in an effort to woo back his true love, and here features the wonderfully haunting vocals of Stephanie Makem.
As well as beautifully arranged traditional pieces, this album also features several original compositions. ‘Beer Belly Dancing’ features Irish phrasing played in an Arabic mode to create a funky musical mix and ‘Brelydian uses the Lydian mode, typical of Malian music. ‘Róise Na bhFonn’ (‘Tuneful Rose’) is a slow air that was composed by Dónal in homage to his grandmother Rose who was his first fiddle teacher.
Recorded in six days in Downpatrick in the North of Ireland, this album is bursting with fresh and passonate music that draws beautiful soundscapes of unusual timbres and rhythms that support the traditional melodies.