Album Review - MacDara Ó Raghallaígh / Ego Trip

MacDara Ó Raghallaígh has created a live album of outstanding fiddle music on his debut Ego Trip.  Powerful, driving, invigorating and passionate fiddle playing that is very reminiscent of a young Brendan McGlinchey on his album Live At The West London Folk Club 1973, an album I still play some 40 years later.  Ego trip has the same raw and unedited appeal and as an album it will without doubt have the same  longevity.  It is also testament to the fact that a lot can be achieved in a village hall, with some microphones and an enthusiastic audience when you have MacDara's inner musical world. Talent like this should not  be constrained by the need for a studio when the alternative is to just to sit down and simply play tunes that have informed your life.  Let it free and let us all listen to it the way it should be heard. That is what we have on this album which was recorded live over two nights in a village hall in Newtown, Co. Kildare in Jaunary 2011.

The album opens with a set of four reels. The Milky Way/The Ring Around The Moon/Peg McGrath's/The Mull of Kylemore.  Foot tapping, whoops from the crowd and strong driving fiddle tunes.  Beautiful.  This is followed with the well known jig set The Haunted House/The Whistler At The Wake/The Old Flail, compositions by Vincent Broderick. MacDara's playing is strong, clear and flawless.  Throughout the album are well known tunes such as The Home Ruler, Jenny's Welcome To Charlie, The College Groves, Maid Behind the Bar ( in C ).  This adds extra appeal as there is a joy in seeing how these well travelled tunes are handled, presented and reinterpreted. The Humours of Ballyloughlin/Páidin Ó Raifeartaigh, a well known set are given a new lease of life with the subtle variation in the latter perfectly executed.

The album notes set out his journey to this recording and show a strong sense of humour and a modesty about his music. As the great Paddy Keenan said recently at a live concert when questioned about the merits of putting a barndance between two hornpipes, "Music to me" he said "is mood".  Music to MacDara it would appear is mood as well because when you listen he draws you in and changes your own mood and feelings.  If you can sit into the grove that he creates you can better understand this music and how it can affect and inspire you.   Albums like this come along only once in a while.  Like the great Brendan McGlinchey, the now great MacDara Ó Raghallaigh has recorded a great live fiddle album that should and must be in every traditional music lover's collection.

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Comment by Richie Geoghegan on December 13, 2012 at 20:27

The very best trad album of the year in my view.  Free-flowing, live solo fiddle playing at it's uncomplicated best.  I haven't taken it from my car since I bought it and play it regularly.  It's great to hear unrushed trad music played with such rhythm and the continuous variations in ornamentation brings it all to life beautifully.  Ten out of ten....!

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