Traditional Irish Music
Dan Gurney's debut album is an impressive and worthy recording that shows this New York born accordion player as a musician with the Irish tradition embedded into his very marrow. What is even more amazing is the fact that it was recorded in one day during the Summer of 2011. The first track you hear is the first track they recorded, and it's a set of reels called The Brook/Ambrose Moloney's. You can hear the click clack of the keys adding to the authenticity and feel of this recording. His natural traditional playing style means that he never has to force or mould the performance in any way, and what you get is the pure drop in a style and manner that is all his own. Dan spent most of that summer in his apartment playing his accordion alone, without the distraction of others, wondering what he wanted to say with his music. As with most debut albums he had to compact a lifetime of playing into a couple of dozen tunes. He figured out what he had to say, or more importantly made his music speak because the result is an album of great substance.
What appeals most is his overall approach which seems simply to be along the lines of "lets just play these great tunes". When you've got talent like his, that's the way it should be. Music stripped down to its essentials, needing no embellishment, complimented by the resonant tones of his Paolo Soprani accordion and Brian McGrath's underscoring it in his usual trusty and accomplished manner. The result is what must be one of the albums of the year.
Twenty four year old Dan Gurney was born in upstate New York and has been involved in the tradition since a very young age. He learned Irish music from Galway-born concertina player Fr Charlie Coen and over the years he states that he has also been heavily influenced by Billy McComiskey, Jimmy Noonan, John Whelan, Joe Derrane, and John Nolan, among many others.
Contentment is Wealth/Tae in The Bog is a perfect example of Dan's approach. Gently paced with a nice lilt and the tune very much to the fore. Brian McGrath's piano is as always sitting nicely under the melody and never crowds it out. Fly By Night / The Eclipse, a set of hornpipes, has the same feel about them. The Ebb Tide/Courting Them All/The Hut In The Bog is even more gently paced with chords and bass notes adding nice holding phrases to the tunes.
The Princess Royal is a great march that Dan got from Fr Charlie Coen, a controversial tune according to the sleeve notes. However controversy can be forgotten when the tune is this good. The highlight of the album can be found on the unaccompanied tracks such as The Tynagh Jig/Dinny O' Briens/The Twopenny Bit as well as on Parnell's March. It's just musician, his accordion and some great music. This is a great album that speaks through the tunes of a life's devotion to the tradition and the music. In Dan Gurney we have a musician that has on one album set standards to be followed. You don't need me to tell you all this. Listen to the tune samples and decide for yourself. Either way it's an album that will feature on my play list for quite some time.
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