I frequently have to remind myself that there is more music out there than any of us can ever listen to – which is my excuse for not having come across Seamus Begley before.
Seamus is well known as half of the Irish/Australian duo Ceolas and for his ongoing partnership with Jim Murray as singer and accordion player. I’ve tracked down about six albums of his work but he probably recorded many others over his forty year career. He’s also worked with Tim Edey who is his principal instrumental supporter on this set of mostly traditional material. The album opens with ‘Táimse Im Chodladh’ and ‘The Lough Tae Boat Song’, both unfamiliar to me. They are followed by a stately version of ‘The Banks Of The Sweet Primroses’ featuring a shared vocal by Damien Dempsey as the material becomes more familiar.
Seamus has a warm voice that brings an intimacy to his performances and the album is so very restful. Like many Irish singers, he seems to consider that a song worth singing should be sung no matter its source. So we have an old Fenian song ‘Wrap The Green Flag Around Me Boys’ followed by ‘Portland Town’ (nothing to do with Derroll Adams) and Annie Laurie. The album closes with John Denver’s ‘Today’ and Paul Metzer’s greatest hit ‘Farewell To The Gold’. In his hands ‘Today’ sounds like a traditional love song.
The Bold Kerryman is a sweet, gentle album which might have benefited from an instrumental interlude to give it a change of pace. It is, nevertheless, a splendid set of songs in both Irish and English that might just lull you into untroubled dreams.
An air and a song performed live by Seamus Begley and Tim Edey:
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