Album Review - Killarney / Pull the Knife

I have just discovered that our own Katie Davis Henderson is one half of Killarney which also features Colin Bott's, another Tradconnector, on octave mandolin, guitar, banjo, bass and vocals. Indeed you may not know this but Katie herself is a fine singer and features on a number of tracks on the album. On TradConnect we have had the pleasure of her New Tune a Day which we have used extensively on our Fiddler's Corner as a way of showing people up close how to execute a tune in fine style. On her blog New Tune A Day she gives reasons to learn the fiddle including

  • You will be instantly popular
  • You will probably live longer
  • You'll be better at Sudoku
  • Your friends will love you more
Don't know about Sudoku but the blog makes a fine read and is a good resource for anyone learning the fiddle. Katie has made it her goal to learn a new tune a day, by ear which is no small feat and she has made a video of each.
This album was put together last winter.  I am reliably informed by Katie that they recorded the whole thing in Colin's apartment with photos and cover design by Katie and her husband. Colin did all the mixing and mastering making it all a truly homespun project. This shows the fantastic way in which albums can come about and get produced with both musicians meeting up as the result of a visit to the University of Limerick 

The tune a day videos were fiddle playing stripped bare and showed just how well Katie can play. However on Pull The Knife they has been able to add a few more layers and bring a nice atmosphere to the recording. On "One O' Clock in the Morning" a composition of Katie's, they provide a beautiful pairing of instruments that sounds as if it was recorded some years ago. It retains an earthiness that flows gently, is never too forced and is perfectly paced. A refreshing and enjoyable set.
It took me some time to try and remember what this sound was, what it reminded me of, and how I could best describe it as. Then it came to me, especially on the opening track on the album "Bunch of Green Rushes" This was recorded some time back by Frankie Gavin and Alex Finn on their album Masters of Irish Music album. Their album had a sound to it that was very distinctive. I don't know if it was the intention of Katie and Colin to get that sound but they seem to have captured it well. Thankfully it's a sound I like.
This therefore captures the essence of Katie and Colin's music. The tunes are recorded well, executed to perfection and they capture an old style of Irish fiddle music that transports you back to a simpler and more rewarding time. The second set Killarney Boys of Pleasure has a beautiful slow introduction with the bouzouki picking out a lovely melody.
Maid of Coolmore shows Katie's to be more than just a fiddler and she gives a very sensitive traditional rendition of this great song. There follows the well know Garrett Barry's, paired with a tune called Ringing The Bell, described as traditional but with a very modern feel to it. The album closes with a Colin Botts song called Scarlett Rain which has a very Americana feel to it and could easily fit on an "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" compilation. Very nice Colin and an interesting way to close out the album.
Listen and buy here

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