CD Reviews: Transatlantic Sessions 3
If Aaron Copland (1900-1990) – composer of evocative American odysseys – had a CD collection, you’d probably find a copy of Transatlantic Sessions 3 in there somewhere. Featuring over twenty-five folk and traditional musicians from Ireland, UK and North America, this nineteen-track accompaniment to the RTÉ and BBC TV series leans towards the American side of things with few exceptions.
‘Shove the Pig’s Foot a Little Further into the Fire’, one of the five sets of tunes on the disc, evokes an immediate desire to get up and hoedown. There are already at least two acclaimed versions of ‘The Streets of Derry’, by the Bothy Band and by Andy Irvine, so it’s weighty material to tackle, but Cara Dillon’s voice carries well on this contemporary treatment of the song. Paul Brady sings intermittently and the mellow piano accompaniment blends well with the voices. For anyone who has never heard Andy Irvine’s version and perhaps some who have, you will be moved.
Julie Fowlis’ offering of, ‘Biodh an Deoch Seo ‘n Láimh mo Rúin’ has a nice retro groove, Donal Lunny strumming solidly on his bouzouki. Paul Brady has revisited the well-known song ‘The Lakes of Ponchartrain’ on track fifteen. Is it disappointing that with so many thousands of traditional pieces to choose from, some less well-known song wasn’t uncovered?
Ronan Browne’s sensitivity for playing slow airs on the uilleann pipes translates well to songs such as Karen Matheson’s haunting rendition of ‘Cruachan na bPaiste’. Less impressive is Darrell Scott singing of ‘The Open Door’ which starts out well but quickly becomes repetitive, not helped by the unrelenting instrumental refrain. The track seems out of it’s depth compared to the likes of Bruce Molsky performing his rootsy ‘The Blackest Crow’ or Eddi Reader’s mournful, classic country, ‘Back to Earth’. Scott redeems himself though on the stand-out track ‘Shattered Cross’ with Paul Brady singing also, Jerry Douglas (of Alison Krauss and Union Station fame) on dobro and seemingly a mini orchestra accompanying.
The Transatlantic Sessions albums and more extensive DVDs are recorded live in a beautiful house and it seems that the participating musicians enjoy the experience, they are after all back for their third slice. This back-to-basics approach is working: they are not attempting to attain perfection nor are they attaining it. One wonders, being performers, would they react better to being in front of an intimate audience? This CD would be a good one for the car, and maybe not just Dad’s car.
Published on 1 March 2008