Album Review - Leonard Barry / New Road

New Road is Leonard Barry's second recording and it is a follow up to his debut, released some 11 years ago called "Mind the Pipes".  Rick Epping joins Leonard on the recording as does Conor Byrne, Tony Byrne, John Carty on banjo, Cathy Jordan, Andy Morrow, Tony O' Connell, Cyril O' Donoghue and Seamie O' Dowd. This collection of accompanying talent sit very much behind Leonard's pipes to give a very nicely balanced recording that brings it very much into the mainstream.  This makes the album a much more rounded affair and as a result it should have a broader appeal.  Commercially this is a big plus because solo piping albums can have a restricted audience.  Yes the sound of solo pipes in the hands of a master can be a wonder to behold.  However add in some great guests as Leonard has done here and the album takes on a different hue. Together they have crafted an outstanding album that celebrates one of our best pipers in both solo, duet and group settings.

 

It's the variety that makes it work.  A set of reels called Bonapart Crossing the Rhine/The Dogs Amongst the Bushes/Gabe O' Sullivan's features Leonard and some stripped bare banjo work by the irrepressible John Carty. They keep it simple and well paced even as they tackle the last two numbers in the above set which are reels.  On other tracks, such as the hornpipes Junior Crehan's Poll Ha'Penny/Moran's Fancy, he goes solo with another well paced set that gives a clear taste of his style with great use of regulators and drones sitting nicely under the main melody.  For the often underappreciated set dance he includes two.  The first called Mount Fabus Hunt introduces Tony O' Connell on concertina and Tony Byrne on guitar. The second Planxty Davis features Rick Epping on harmonica and concertina and Seamie O' Dowd on guitar. With such a fine team of accompanists the risk of Leonards pipes getting lost in an array of competing sounds never happens.  It’s a piping album on which he uses these resources sparingly but to great effect.  The album remains focused on pipes while at the same time achieving much more commercial appeal with arrangements that provide a fuller texture and sound when required. There is plenty for everyone in here and it brings the supreme talents of Leonard Barry back into the public eye once more on one of the years best piping albums.

To Purchase : http://www.custysmusic.com/product-info.

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