Traditional Irish Music
Freewheel is the new vehicle for Séan McCarthy, better known for his work with Fullset. This is a tight ensemble with Fergal Scahill on fiddle, bodhrán and guitar and David Howley on vocals, guitar and banjo. All multi instrumentalists, they serve up an album that bristles with edginess. In overall terms they seem to have decided not to multilayer it or clutter it with too much music. Each set has a distinct identity and you could see this working very well in a live setting. The arrangements are well thought out and are played with a passion. Micho Russell’s/The Edenderry/The Boy in The Gap is particularly lively and is followed by a more sparse march called The Battle of Aughrim leading into a jig called Old Man Dillon.
Songs include Guy Clarke’s Dublin Blues as well as I Roved Out which features a great arrangement behind David Howley’s voice. Such a well-covered song needs something to warrant its inclusion and this arrangement nailed it. The Corner House/Eilish Brogan/Enach Mhic Coilin is also a great driving set of reels opening with pipes that showcase Sean McCarthy’s style and strength as a musician. The dampened down sound of David Howley’s guitar is a constant feature of the sound throughout and adds nicely to the overall mix.
All in all it is interesting to see side projects like this coming together with three talented musicians producing something special. All tracks were recorded, mixed and mastered by Fergal Scahill in Galway thereby keeping a very slimmed down production team involved, necessary, one would imagine, to make these projects viable. This close working environment can be heard in the tight arrangements that they have come up with. Weighing in at 37 minutes it is a relatively short album by today’s standards. However all tracks have been well thought out and arranged and quality over quantity definitely wins out here. Freewheel could and should develop into something more long term. A refreshingly bright and honest album delivered in great style.
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