Penguin Eggs

Monday, 09 September 2019 11:59

Dervish

Written by Barry Hammond
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The Great Irish Songbook (Rounder Records)

This new disc is something of a landmark for this band from Sligo, Ireland. They’ll soon be celebrating 30 years in the music business and it’s their first release on their new label, the celebrated roots company Rounder Records, which will itself be celebrating 50 years in 2020. 

For this occasion, they’ve invited a host of luminaries to celebrate Irish music by selecting their favourite tunes and joining them in playing really lovely versions of them. Besides their own vocalist, the sublime Cathy Jordan, the guests include The Steeldrivers, Imelda May, Steve Earle, Andrea Corr, actor Brendan Gleeson, Kate Rusby, Vince Gill, Jamey Johnson, Rhiannon Giddens, David Gray, and Abigail Washburn. 

Sometimes these celebrity pairings produce some odd results but this collection is truly a musical feast, with some really great playing and singing by all involved. The musicians in Dervish are great in technique and feeling. If you like your music Celtic, you can’t go wrong with this disc. 

Personal favourites are Imelda May’s take on Molly Malone with great violin work by Tom Morrow, Steve Earle’s duet with Cathy Jordan on Galway Shawl with flute by Liam Kelly, Kate Rusby’s Down By The Sally Gardens with mandolin and bouzouki by Brian McDonagh and Michael Holmes, the soulful Jamey Johnson on The Fields Of Athenry, or the rousing The Rocky Road To Dublin featuring Brendan Gleason and woven through with Shane Mitchell’s accordion. Pretty much every track has dazzling moments.

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