A Canadian-Irish trio comprising Benny McCarthy on button accordion, Billy Sutton variously on fiddle, mandolin, mandola, bodhran, bass and percussion and Eddie Costello on guitar and lead vocals, individually they’ve carved a sizeable reputation over the decades but, joining forces in 2022, Atlantic Sounds is their downloadable debut album together, a collection of original material alongside tunes from Ireland, Newfoundland and North America.
Opening unaccompanied, they kick off with the jaunty mandolin-driven ‘Deckhand On A Trawler’, a number penned by Martyn Travis, a songwriter from Dunmore East in Co. Waterford about his work as a fisherman. It’s followed by the first of several instrumentals, a combining of two jigs in ‘Coiscéim na Sí/Helvic Head’, the latter traditional named after the Waterford headland and the fiddle flouncing former composed by Cork flute maestro, Conal Ó’Gráda who joins them on the track.
The other instrumentals line up with, first, ‘Harry Eveleigh’s/Advance / Mrs. Belle’s #7’, a traditional cocktail of Newfoundland singles, the fiddle sprightly first attributed to Harry Eveleigh from Fogo Island and learnt from Newfoundland accordion player Aaron Collis while the others are ascribed to the late Mrs Belle Fennelly, a renowned accordionist from Newfoundland’s Southern Shore, Newfoundland flautist Michelle Brophy joining for the last tune. Another nimble foot tapper is ‘Stone Of Destiny/Plains Of Joy’ which pairs the Maurice Lennon tune with McCarthy’s own composition.
Again pairing a traditional tune with a trio composition, ‘Boys Of Bluehill /The Green Grove’ opens with a barn dance arrangement of the Irish hornpipe followed in similar mode by Sutton’s tune with renowned banjo player Theresa O’Grady guesting. The final two sets close proceedings, firstly with a polka set of ‘John Walsh’s/Upperchurch/ Muirisin Durkan’, the first composed by Co. Cork fiddler John Walsh, the second learnt from Co. Tipperary’s Vinny O’Brien and the third, a Sliabh Luachra polka version of the well-known song, from a recording by the Timmy Connors, Co. Clare accordionist Bobby Gardiner joining to add lilting and a playful lyric by his wife Anne. And, finally, a pair of slides, a second by Ó’Gráda paired with another from Sutton, comes the punningly titled ‘A Walk On The Wild Slide /The Coomby Jigger’, the latter a tribute to one of Sutton’s friends.
Returning to the songs, ‘1962’, arguably the album standout, is a lovely take on a reflective number by celebrated Newfoundland songwriter Ronald Hynes with Sandy Morris, who worked with Hynes for some 40 years, on lap steel. The distinctive low whistle of Bothy Band founder Paddy Keenan adds extra colour to the circling rhythm of Waterford-born and former Clancy Brothers member Robbie O’Connell’s ‘When The Moon Is Full’ while another lunar title comes with the fiddle waltzing Appalachian-flavoured ‘Moon Upon The Left’ by American troubadour David Mallett, Sutton on lead with Canadian songstress Jamie Dart on harmonies, she also joining for the remaining track, ‘Waltz Around The Cape’, a classic from one of Newfoundland’s most celebrated musicians.
A fine debut that, as the title says, bridges the Atlantic in its warm and inviting folk moods, whether it has you itching to move the feet or sink back with a whiskey glow.
Artists’ website: www.miscellanyoffolk.com
‘Deckhand On A Trawler’ – official video:
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