The Joyful Hour is the third album by Irish-American trio Open The Door For Three. They are fiddler Liz Knowles, already known to us a member of String Sisters; American-born piper, flautist and whistle-player Kieran O’Hare and singer/bouzouki player Pat Broaders who is Irish but now lives in Chicago. All three are much-travelled and well-respected and there is probably a very long and involved story about how they met.
Their repertoire is mostly Irish although they stray to Cape Breton, Scotland and England, and mostly old although one tune is of more modern origin. The opening set goes under the umbrella title ‘Boyne Water’ comprising ‘Boyne Water’, ‘Let Us Leave That As It Is’ and ‘Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part’. The band are meticulous in crediting the sources of their repertoire so you’ll find the names of Micho Russell, Len Graham and Liam O’Flynn as well as Martin Carthy and Nic Jones. ‘Boyne Water’ opens simply on tin whistle with bouzouki gradually joining in followed by fiddle. At the first change, the fiddle takes over the lead with uilleann pipes added to the mix
The second track is also the first song, ‘Carrig Water’ sung by Pat. His voice is unaffected and untreated in the manner of traditional recordings. The song is a nostalgic “song of place” and pretty if a little unsubstantial although much enlivened by the pipe and fiddle outro. The ‘Church Hill’ begins with the pipes celebrating a 17th century battle before the complex ‘The Monaghan Jig’ with Kieran and Liz battling for supremacy and this pattern of interchanging leads is typical of the trio’s style. Pat’s bouzouki opens the beautiful ‘Heavy Is My Fate’ with Liz and Kieran taking over.
Of the other songs, ‘Creeping Jane’ is the outsider but… an Irish band with a song about horse-racing; it could have been written for them and they Irish it up still further by interleaving a couple of traditional tunes. ‘Ye Lovers All’ is a gentle love song and ‘Clyde Water’ brings us the band’s take on Nic Jones’ classic with the addition of ‘The Morning Star’ from the playing of Joe Bane.
It has only taken a couple of plays to get into The Joyful Hour and you can indeed spend a joyful hour in its company.
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Artists’ website: https://www.openthedoorforthree.com/
Live at Celtic Colours International: