The Seamus Eagan Project release Early Bright on January 17th. The launch will be at the 2020 Celtic Connections in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in the evening concert (with Breabach). This tells you all you need to know about the regard with which the Seamus Egan Project is held.
Egan is a multi-instrumentalist; on this album he plays banjo, guitar, whistles, mandolin, keyboard and percussion. He was a founder member of Irish-American band Solas, has scored a range of films and inspired a variety of musicians through his skills and inventiveness. For twenty years he helped keep Solas fresh, through various membership changes and in its drawings from Irish music.
Solas have taken a break (of indeterminate length) and The Seamus Egan Project, then, is Egan’s latest incarnation. As you’d expect, the music is based on the sound of Irish tradition. However, this is an album of new music, Egan has written eight of the ten tracks himself.
The album opens with ‘Early Bright’, its delicate piano waking you into the album like the soundtrack a film maker would put to someone waking and stretching to a bright dawn sky. ‘6 Then 5’ segues from this into a delicate banjo (yes, really), the up-beat Irish rhythms pushing the track on. The tune in ‘Welcome to Orwell’ (I have no idea what the title means, though there is a town of that name a few hundred miles from Egan’s birthplace) is driven by Egan’s low whistle and some delicate playing behind them. The album then bounds, fittingly enough, into the dexterity of ‘B Bump Bounce’ which you can see on the video below. ‘Tournesol’ combines the whistle of the former with the energy of the latter.
‘Everything Always Was’ has a more haunting opening before progressing to a guitar led tune you couldn’t help but chill out to. ’52 Hertz’ has a similar feel. ‘Simon Nally Hunt The Buck’ somehow manages to be a lovely Irish tune while bringing in a sense of the mediaeval, dancing along in the middle until a final delicately picked ending. The album closes with ‘Under The Chestnut Tree’, calm and somnolent, a neat bookend to the opening track.
The Seamus Egan Project has a number of renowned musicians playing with Egan: Kyle Sanna (guitar, piano), Owen Marshall (bouzouki, harmonium), Moira Smiley (piano accordion), Joe Phillips (double bass) and additional depth from The Fretless String Quartet. They combine to create a set of finely-crafted tunes on Early Bright.
Artist’s website: https://www.seamuseganproject.com
‘B Bump Bounce’ – live: