Liz Carroll & John Doyle: In Play – Liz Carroll, fiddle; John Doyle, guitar and bouzouki – Compass Records

by | Dec 2, 2005 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Liz Carroll & John Doyle: In Play – Liz Carroll, fiddle;
John Doyle, guitar and bouzouki – Compass Records 7 4418 2 – 50 min.
*****:

I recently reviewed John Doyle’s “Wayward Son,” his superb disc of
Irish-American music which prominently featured American fiddler Liz
Carroll. The two have collaborated on several of each other’s albums on
the Compass label and frequently tour together. John Doyle’s reputation
as one of the founders of the Irish-American supergroup Solas precedes
him. For those unfamiliar with Liz Carroll, she was at age 18 winner of
the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship – a rare feat for an American, and
she has since carved out a singular reputation as an Irish fiddler of
note. Their live shows always feature a collection of traditional and
traditionally-inspired jigs, reels, polkas, waltzes and Irish airs,
many of which have been written by Liz Carroll and have garnered her a
bounty of accolades.

To say that this album has been greatly anticipated is a true
understatement. While there are a number of great collections of
traditional Irish music available, this disc is so reverent to
tradition, yet at the same time, so fresh and groundbreaking in its
presentation – it’s without a doubt destined to become a new classic of
the genre. Doyle and Carroll tear through these tunes with such
effortless ease – it’s really breathtaking to hear these two perform
this music that is so familiar and yet so very new, all at the same
time!

While much of the music-making here is devoted to the various Irish
dances that are typically rapid-fire in their presentation, there are
also more subdued moments such as the Irish airs “The Island Of Woods”
and “A Long Night On The Misty Moor.” A particular favorite of mine and
one that had me hitting the replay button again and again was the waltz
and reels medley “Hunter’s Moon/Getting There/The Morris Minor.” The
medley starts with a beautifully played, lilting waltz movement, which
transitions a bit faster into the first reel, then wide open throttle
into the last reel. The effect is mesmerizing, and absolutely requires
repeat listenings. Doyle and Carroll function as finely tuned machines
throughout – they give new meaning to the word “effortless” as they
shift through the wide variety of tempos heard here.

Sonics, as always from Compass Records, are superb. This disc is a
must-have on numerous levels – for fans of old and new Irish music,
hearing these two artists in their prime is nothing short of a
revelation. Very highly recommended!

Tracks: The Ronan Boys/Ralph’s 2-3-5; Northern Jig/The Box Man; Rolling
In The Barrell/The Laurel Tree/O’Rourke’s; The Island Of Woods; Smokies
In Arbroathe/Mystery Writer/The Blessings Of Gold; Kierans’s Polka/The
Bike To Ballyhahill; Hunter’s Moon/Getting There/The Morris Minor; The
Man With One Kidney/The Spy Czar; Fremont Center/The Vornado/Minutemen;
Dennehy Dancers/The McSweeney Side; Ashleigh Roach’s/With
Ourselves/Wild Pitch; A Long Night On The Misty Moor; Ceisel’s
Sword/The Monasteryedan Fancy.

— Tom Gibbs 
 

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