- 13 Feb 13
Niall goes Nashville to charming effect
Niall Toner presents RTÉ’s flagship country music radio show Roots Freeway and is self-confessedly a country music obsessive. His career as performer pre-dates the founding of the wonderfully named Hank Halfhead & The Rambling Turkeys. Along with contemporaries like Philip King, Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly, he is one of that first wave of Irish musicians to investigate the familial relationship between Appalachian and traditional Irish music.
A more than sprightly veteran, he has been signed by iconic US bluegrass label, Pinecastle Music, as a solo artist and this is the first progeny of the union – a genuine Nashville Record. The label has demonstrated its faith in him by putting together a crack band for the outing – Rob Ickes on dobro, Ashby Frank on mandolin, Viktor Krauss on bass. The result is an LP that bounces along with fiercely impressive vim. There are a couple of fine songs about Bill Monroe – Toner’s ultimate hero – and Earl Scruggs, and several tunes where his wry sense of humour comes to the fore. And there are others, like the lovely ‘Sweet Bunclody Girl’, where the roots are firmly this side of the Atlantic. There is also a brace of songs – ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Lock & Key’ – which deal deftly with the imminence of growing old. A charming record from one of our major songwriting talents.