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BEN LENNON "The Natural Bridge" Clo Iar-Chonnachta CICDl39

Ben and Charlie Lennon together should be enough to make you listen; add Brian and Maurice Lennon, Garry O Brian, John Carty, Ciar n Curran, Gabriel McArdle, and S,amus Quinn, and you really sit up and take notice. This is a typical Clą Iar-Chonnachta production; well balanced and with twenty pages of comprehensive notes. There's one particular Irish label that ought to take heed of CIC's thoroughness in that regard.

"The Natural Bridge" is North Leitrim style at it's best; flowing and unhurried, giving the music elbow-room, yet with a strong assured rhythm. Maybe maturity in traditional music comes when you don't play floridly and fast just because you can? As the title implies, there's feeling for the styles of near neighbours from South Leitrim, Sligo, and Fermanagh. The bridge is also with the past, because Ben pays tribute to the older musicians whose records influenced him; Coleman, John and Mickey Doherty, Killoran, James Morrison, etc. There are also tributes to musicians who are still with us, like Michael McNamara of Aughavas, South Leitrim. McNamara's influence shows through on the reel named for him.

Instrumental balance is varied throughout seventeen tracks of reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, and a great barndance, as well as two songs from Gabriel McArdle. An inspired idea is Maurice Lennon five viola on three tracks. It fits the music really well; "Rattigan's" and "The Collier's rarely sounded so good. There are rarely-played tunes as well as old favourites; and the best version of "Cathleen Hehir's" I've heard yet.

I've no favourite track as yet. It's hard to make a choice, so why bother? This is all great stuff; definitely one for the "ready-for-use" rack.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.