Saturday, May 17, 2014

Album Review: Acoustically Irish

Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly are noted for their work with Celtic Thunder. This wonderful side project gives a further glimpse at some other tunes that are significantly scaled down from what you'd hear on a Celtic Thunder album.

"Don't Go" opens the album. This acoustic folk song that will definitely stick in a few heads. The mandolin adds a lively touch to this song.

"Beautiful Affair" showcases both guys voices.  This song is guaranteed to cause the ladies to swoon. (I know I did). Fellow bandmate, Keith Harkin is The Moody Blues frontman's doppelganger, but this song sounds like it should have been written by Mr. Hayward. (In fact, I'd love to hear him sing this one)

They move away from the contemporary with "The Rose Of Allendale." This is an English song from the 1840's. Neil Byrne's voice is the first you hear and soon he's joined by Ryan. This is the kind of English ballad that tugs at the heartstrings.

On "Back Home In Derry" they go full on Irish. Any fan of Gordon Lightfoot's will recognize the melody as that of "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald." Having listened to this song, it wouldn't be so bad if someone covered the Lightfoot tune.

If you are looking for something a little more familiar, the guys cover Van Morrison's classic "Brown Eyed Girl." This song has been covered many times over, but Neil and Ryan give it a freshness that harkens back to the original.

"The Water Is Wide" is a song that dates back to the 1600's. Its another song that has been recorded many times over most notably by James Taylor and from the Celtic music scene Hayley Westenra,

"No Man's Land" is ballad by Eric Bogle.  The song is written about a young man that died during WWI. It is impossible not to shed a tear as you listen.

They cover Brian Kennedy's "Captured" next. Ryan and Neil give this the boy band treatment, a'la Westlife. It definitely has a British pop arrangement.

The album ends on an Irish note with "The Fields of Athenry" and "On Raglan Road" as well as Paddy Casey's "Saints and Sinners." The latter two songs are ballads, where "Saints and Sinners" is a more upbeat folk ballad.

Acoustically Irish will give the listeners a chance to hear two of the voices of Celtic Thunder away from all the pomp and spectacle that surrounds the band. It also proves that these guys are more than just some very pretty faces on the stage. Both men play guitar along with their divine singing skills.

Even if you aren't a fan of Celtic Thunder, this is an album to take note of. Ryan and Neil are truly a dynamic duo when it comes to folk music be it traditional or contemporary.

Listen: Back Home In Derry

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