RÓNÁN O’ SNODAIGH – Tá Go Maith (Arbutus Yarns Recording Company)

Ta Go MaithRónán O’ Snodaigh and Indistinct Chatter keyboard guy, Myles O’Reilly’s new album, Tá Go Maith, proves that mysticism can dance (with joy!) in the introspective grooves of a fresh and very organic Irish folk singer-songwriter album.

Just so you know: Rónán is the vocalist and multi-faceted percussionist in the Irish traditional band, Kila – whose albums Handel’s Fancy, and Lemonade & Buns (Thank you, Green Linnet!) are brilliant records that release the Celtic furies! But on this solo album, Rónán plays acoustic guitar, zither, some percussion, and sings. And a word must be said about his unique voice: While it is very Irish, it embraces the emotive depths of some sort of Jungian unconscious archetypal folk root that sounds, at times, African, Jamaican, Icelandic, Native American, and just like Peter Gabriel in his best ‘Biko’ passion. Fellow Irish guy, Bono, sings of a time when “all colours bleed into one”. And the earthen vessel of Ronan’s voice, with its shamanistic magic, manages to eclipse boarders, and (to quote peter Gabriel again!), plays “games without frontiers”. As my friend, Kilda Defunt, says, “He just has a really cool voice”.

Odd = the first song, ‘Tá Go Maith’, bounces with the rhythm of a Beach Boys’ tune like ‘California Girls’. The tunes are that melodic! And Myles O’Reilly provides “minimal ambient textures” that juxtapose the acoustic root of the song with delightful colour coaxed from his Moog, which “leaves only faint traces of its electric imprint” on this acoustic music. But it is a lovely “imprint”.

There are more collective unconscious Jungian folk memories: ‘Ar Ar Son’ pulses with an earthy dance, while the keyboards touch the universe. Indeed, this is mind and body stuff. Then, ‘Ta’n T’Adh Liom’ is a continuous thought with a lovely acoustic guitar and vocal that is caressed with more of those “minimal ambient textures”. This song simply dances with universal folk joy. ‘Cad A Tugfadh Dom’ gets into a wonderful groove with keyboards, bodhran, and that unique Ronan voice singing to the unity of the world. Quite frankly, it’s a bit sublime. And ‘The Great And Gallant, Brave, Bold Edward Fitzgerald’ gives a welcome reprieve with its acoustic guitar, keyboard hum, and chorused wordless voicings.

In a way, this music can be compared to great artistic records of Iarla O’ Lionaird (Thank you Realworld Records!) and the austerity of his band, the Gloaming, but Ta Go Maith’, perhaps, enjoys a melody of a Guinness stout pint just a little bit more.

‘Sliabh Gan Ainm’ is the most keyboard enhanced song, but Rónán’s human voice again, touches the deep folk root.

Then, in ‘Farewell To English’, Rónán invokes Irish writer Michael Hartnett’s dictum to write in Irish and even quotes his words that say, English is “the perfect language to sell pigs in”. Well, (just for the record!) I have listened to the melodies of the local language in Ireland, Wales, Scandinavian counties (and those early Horslips albums!), so let’s just say that, perhaps, Sir Paul with his nascent Wings had a point when they sang, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’. But (also just for the record!) I still think William Faulkner was pretty good. And the tune, while it bids ‘Farewell To English,’ does throttle a universal folk zither freedom with the joy of a Bob Dylan (who is also pretty good!) mantra that sings, “Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand dancing free”. This song is, perhaps, just another one of those Jungian unconscious archetypes that taps the deep root of really decent folk music.

‘Yan Tan’ returns to acoustic guitar voiced universal joy of one of those (before-mentioned) Horslips Gaelic songs.

Now, the album promo stuff says, “Tá Go Maith is the perfect companion with which to practice Tai Chi”. Well, first, let me say that I’d love to be a member of that health club, and then suggest this music goes beyond background music. This is vital Irish folk music—with a bit of a really nice deeply earthen and oddly cosmic vibe–which is exemplified with the final tune, ‘Round The Roundabout/Timpeall An Timpeallan’, as it melts a dreamy acoustic guitar into a heavenly chorused serenade with a melody that sails with Celtic grace, into the final grooves of a very magical album.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website: https://www.ronanosnodaigh.ie/

‘Tá Go Maith’ – official video: