- 21 Aug 19
Musical poet of Irish trad takes on classical quartet.
While Martin Hayes was a megastar on the trad trail long before the first gleaming of The Gloaming, his compadres on this intriguing project, the New York string quartet Brooklyn Rider, are comparative newbies to that audience. As Hayes' latest collaborative venture, it's brave - a head-on encounter by a maestro from the trad scene with the more sober classical world. You could call it a score-draw, such is the meeting and matching of minds that resonates through the music.
One of the most startling tracks is the opener 'Maghera Mountain', which Hayes composed in his teens, an exquisite tune set against a melancholy, droned backdrop. There's an aching forlorness about 'Port na bPucai', an innate sadness in the tune that can't be shaken off. Colin Jacobsen's arrangement of 'O'Neill's March' is given a more stately and playful outing than it got when adapted for Horslips' rocker 'Dearg Doom', although it grows deliciously edgy with time.
The joyful 'P Joe's Reel' has been in Hayes' repertoire since learning it from his eponymous Da, and it understandably comes with an extra helping of emotion. Although 'Drunken Sailor' is sprightly if restrained, and maximises the contrast between soloist and band, it could have done with a little more rum and a lash or two.
There's much of the bleakness of the Irish landscape in Hayes' playing and it's to the quartet's credit that they complement that rather than disturb it. So for those who find The Gloaming a little too contrived, too perfect even, this Hayes project will strike many as the better deal.
Out on August 16 via 251 Records