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Red Knot

All reviews by David Marcus unless otherwise noted.
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Liam O'Flynn: The Given Note
Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, whistle); Steve Cooney (guitar, bass guitar, didgerido); Arty McGlynn (guitar); Rod McVey (synth., organ, harmonium); Noel Eccles (percussion). 14 tracks, 62'55". Tara CD 3034. Discography & Ordering Info
The key to quickly describing this album may simply be to say that it is produced by Shaun Davey, composer of works such the Seville Suite and Brendan Voyage, on which Liam O'Flynn appears. Like those pieces, this CD has a big, almost orchestral sound. It is lush and full of interesting texture but also not over-orchestrated or over-produced. The melodies are almost all traditional but the overall feel of this album is much more modern. My favorite cuts on this, the slip jig O' Farrell's Welcome to Limerick and the Phil Cunningham tune, Farewell to Govan, combine soaring melodies with accompaniments that often feel both jazzy and lush as well as a little other-worldly. This even carries over to an air from Bunting (1792), An Speic Seoigheach. In general the reels and jigs on this albums feel much older; some of the accompaniments to them have almost medieval roots.

The energy on this album is high, but it is controlled and relaxed, focused and lyrical. In the introduction to the excellent liner notes, poet Seamus Heaney says, "There has always been a classical quality about Liam O'Flynn's playing, a level confident strength: you feel that he is unshakably part of a tradition. But there is something up and away about his style, a sheer delight in his own personal impulse.... behind these tunes you hear freedom as well as discipline, elegy as well as elation, a longing for solitude as well as a love of the seisiun." This is both poetic and accurate.

The album is spiced with two Galician sets, with Milladoiro members Nando Casal and Xos‚ Ferreir¢s, and both Andy Irvine and Paul Brady make guest vocal appearances.

If you like a big lyrical sound and enjoy exploring the places where the traditional begins to absorb the modern, this album is a "must have."

David Marcus  
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The Atlanta Red Knot Celtic Quarterly