Album Review: The Australian – Precious Heroes

Precious Heroes

Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb


3.5 stars

Recorded at various locations over four months last year, Precious Heroes twins a venerable lion king of the late-20th-century Irish folk music revival with a Tasmanian tiger of the new millennium. Andy Irvine’s mandolas and bouzouki and the mandolin, guitar and bouzouki (predominantly the first-named) of producer and sound engineer Luke Plumb intertwine and dovetail as intricately and expertly as might be expected of two outstanding instrumentalists. Their expertise is perfectly showcased in the album’s three non-vocal tracks, assisted by Mike McGoldrick’s fluent flute and whistle in Plumb’s riveting reel medley The Appeal to Reason/The Fiddle in the Phones and in Tune for Angus, appropriately with John McCusker’s poignant violin in the Aussie’s lament to his recently passed partner in Shooglenifty, Angus R. Grant. In the jaunty Trip to Tir na nOg — a tune originally earmarked for Planxty — Irvine’s mandola and bouzouki dance delightfully in tandem. The remainder of the album puts a premium on Irvine’s vocal ability. While the troubadour’s singing might not quite be what it was in his heyday with Planxty and Patrick Street, it’s still admirably tuneful, as exemplified by the beautiful timbre exhibited in the co-composition Niamh and Oisin and in lower register on a late-18th-century resistance song Dunlavin Green. Elsewhere, Irvine slips slides and other ornamentation into the fabric of familiar melodies given added colour by the lusty harmony singing of Aussie duo Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

Tony Hillier



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