Album Review - Maurice Lennon / The Little Ones

It is quite remarkable to think that The Little Ones is Maurice Lennon's first purely traditional solo album, when his name is so synonymous with Irish music in both Ireland and the US where he now resides. Stockton's Wing put him on the map with his prior grounding in the tradition coming via his father Ben Lennon and uncle Charlie Lennon. Both are well recognised names as musicians and composers with solid roots in Leitrim and its rich musical heritage. Maurice was also one of the youngest winners of the All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil taking the title in 1977. He has also recently been involved in studio production and recording, and produced Kevin Ó Donnell's recent album  Deep Is The Well. Livetrad in 2011 recorded some great videos  of Maurice in action and they are worth checking out as well. With the exception of his more themed 2008 Brian Boru project and album we have not had a purely traditional recording from him.  This is therefore long overdue and he does not disappoint on it.

It’s an album that delivers great variety in its offering. His opening set The Road to Garrison/The Blackberry Blossom and the following jigs The Road to Ballinakill/Bill Collin's are an outstanding demonstration of classic fiddle, with joyous and uplifting piano accompaniment threading its way through the melody. With Charlie Lennon at the keyboards you would expect nothing less. Combining this with a beautiful reel on the third track called Gweebarra Bridge, also known as The Killarney Boys of Pleasure you have the makings of one great album. It's fiddle and piano in perfect harmony stripped down to its essentials with Maurice's rooted and expressive style evident throughout. There is always great clarity to his playing which for anyone learning fiddle makes it extra rewarding. He never overburdens the tunes with ornamentation. You can hear his rolls, cuts and triplets clearly with his driving rhythm also economically restrained. To add texture and to lift the sound, they introduce Brian Lennon on flute for the next track, the well-travelled Morrison's/Willie Coleman's for a brilliantly balanced set.
The midpoint on the album features the title track The Little Ones. Written for his children it is an exceptionally emotive piece that is difficult to get out of your head once you hear it. As is the way with albums that hit all the right notes, we could comment on each and every track, their different sound or inflection, their changes of tempo or variation of accompaniment. The unadulterated beauty of his own compositions, especially the slow airs A Letter Home and When Hope Dawns are seeped with the rain that may fall into many of our lives, to paraphrase Longfellow. They are heartfelt and inspiring in equal measure. All of these elements collide in glorious multicolour on The Little Ones making it a highly recommended and enjoyable recording.


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Comment by Rick Rubin on December 7, 2013 at 22:25
Hi Tony and thanks. I'm in Mexico on vacation right now, but when I return I'll get cracking on participating. If you get the chance go to the iTunes store or the web page for the band I'm in and check out what we do. The band is Floating Crowbar. Many thanks.

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