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Solo debut is a joy to listen to

September 8, 2020

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The album comes recommended without hesitation.

 

By Daniel Neely

This week, Lúnasa fans have reason to rejoice, as the band has finally dipped its toes into the world of online performance!  Their first online concert was uploaded on Sunday and is currently available to watch.

Because Lúnasa’s members are scattered around the U.S. and Ireland – “five different cities in three different countries,” a post on social media stated – the band faced a significant technical challenge in putting this show together: each musician’s part had to be recorded independently and assembled later on.  (This is not unlike how some albums are recorded.)  A formidable technical challenge!  

The band, however, has some experience with this approach.  Their fiddle player Colin Farrell, for example, has done distanced ensemble work in his “Tune a Day Challenge” videos (which are posted to his Facebook page) that have involved guest musicians including several Lúnasa members.  Expect a similar, albeit more sophisticated approach to the concert they posted.

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It’ll be a full complement of musicians on the show anyway (they’ll have the two fiddlers, Sean Smythe and Farrell, with them), and the band promises to play some of their old hits as well as introduce some new ones!  They’ll also feature a special guest in Dublin singer Daoirí Farrell, who fans will remember appeared on Lúnasa’s last album “Cas.”

The concert was uploaded on Sunday, but again, it is available on the band’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/Lunasafilms.  Keep up with the band there or through their website, lunasa.ie.

Lúnasa has already done distanced ensemble work and so expect a sophisticated approach in the new concert they’ve posted online.

 

Speaking of Dublin singers, I’ve had Pat Broaders’s brand new self-titled album in the media player this week and it’s truly a joy to listen to.  Broaders, who is now based in Chicago, is one of the finest singers (and bouzouki players) in Irish music today, and in addition to all sorts of smaller project over the years has been a member of incredible bands like bohola and Open the Door for Three (OTD43).  This solo debut shows a different side of the artist’s music, one that’s a bit intimate, a bit raw, but the end is a stunning and satisfying album that needs to be in your collection, especially if you love songs.

Broaders announced the album through his Facebook page on September 1.  “This is my first solo flight,” he wrote, “and I hope it brings a smile or tear to those of you who listen. […] There are songs that I have know for a long time and some not so much. They all tell a story and they all speak to me of friends, family, love and loss.”

 

This is precisely what Broaders has delivered.  The album starts strong with “Kelly The Boy From Killane” and “The Croppy Boy.”  Both songs come from the 1798 rebellion in Wexford, his parents’ home, and both he learned as a child from his father. Broaders’s strong, penetrating voice communicates the songs’ meanings well, but in doing so he reveals facets of his own musical journey that give the songs individual life.

Other lovely tracks are “Van Dieman’s Land” (his setting combines Christy Moore and Mike Waterson’s versions) and “Reynardine” (his version being that of June Tabor’s).  Another one I find most compelling is “The Holland Handkerchief,” a song Broaders got from the great singer and collector Frank Harte and has been singing for quite a while.  Here, whistle, uilleann pipes, and what sounds like a synthesized drone – all played by Broaders, who started out playing whistle as a child and was a piping student of Leon Rowsome’s – are added to the arrangement and given great use.

Finally, there’s “Irish Jaunting Car,” a track that features Broaders backing a recording from 1962 of his father singing.  It’s a touching and a suitable way to end a thoroughly enjoyable album.

I’ve enjoyed Broaders’s singing very much over the years, and I was curious what set these songs apart from ones he might have done with bohola or OTD43.  His answer was detailed: “I am always working on some song or other and eventually you have a bunch of songs to pull from and try out and the ones that OTD43 did were a group choice. I would introduced maybe 5,6,7 or so songs and we would play and listen to them and make a group decision. 

“Some of the songs on my cd, like ‘Rosemarys Sister’ or ‘The Holland Hankerchief’ I have been singing for a while, but they didn’t suit the trio so I [thought to] maybe use them in a solo project, which is what I did. And then there were songs like ‘Van Diemans Land’ which I hadn’t looked at in years but when I was putting all this together it came to mind.”

Pat Broaders eponymous solo debut comes recommended without hesitation.  His vocal performances are excellent, but moreover, his less-is-more approach to arranging and the strong song choices he’s made highlight the material as well as his own talent, which is superlative.  If you love Irish singing, this album is a real treat – check it out.  Broaders’s album is available for download directly from his website, patbroaders.com.

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