These boys are rocking and rolling new life and texture into traditional jigs and reels with a very accomplished debut album. It's a definite contender for one of the liveliest albums that I have heard in quite a while, and with some really tight arrangements it packs a punch. The name Socks in The Frying Pan turned up as a new tune composition on an earlier album called Small towns in Built-up Areas by Shane Hayes who plays accordion with the group. The other parts of this trio are Fiachra Hayes on fiddle and Aodán Coyne on guitar. Think of Arcady at their best and you get the drift.
The music is modern traditional primarily because of the driving rhythm and the flights of fancy taken by each of the musicians. These rhythm shifts are a dominant force throughout and in combination with the musicians creativity it has resulted in a modern and beautifully crafted piece of work. It is, however, still firmly grounded in the tradition. The difference is in the approach taken in the arrangements which lifts the music into the stratosphere making it thoroughly enjoyable. Intro's, outro's and small delicate touches can lift an album from good to great and this is what we have here. The combination of vocal, harmony, instrumental and rhythm on songs like Shady Grove is outstanding. But then the same could be said of most of the tracks or sets which in a new trend are given names rather than simply listing the tunes. The first set called The Finale consists of The Silver Spear/Franks Reel/Pachelbels Frolics. Another set called Shane's Newest is a set of newly composed tunes called Once More and The Dog's Miaow. The approach taken to a waltz called The Last Waltz is fantastic for its use of space, breaks, pacing and with a little harmonic outro you again have something special. Including five songs on an album with twelve tracks is also a bold move. Too often songs are included simply for the sake of it. Not here. The voice of Aodán Coyne sounds authentic and he really carries the lyrics with feeling. Again the difference is near Voice Squad level harmonies in the arrangements that place this bunch of songs on another level.
When you look at the small print to see which studio recorded and who mixed and mastered an album you know you have something special in your hands. Miltown Malbay Studios and Martin O' Malley is the answer. Outstanding music, great album and most definitely in this year's top five, no mean achievement considering what a great year this has been for music. A definite stocking filler as we approach the festive season.