Patrick Street – On the Fly – Loftus Music LM002; 47 minutes; 2007
A recent review of this album in the UK magazine Songlines referred to Patrick Street as a ‘Dublin band’, revealing not only the reviewer’s ignorance about a group which has never featured a Dublin-born member in its career of now twenty years and more, but a sheer lack of understanding of the derivation of the musical elements which have coloured this group’s recordings and performances since its inception.
On the Fly is the band’s first album since 2003’s Street Life, the first to feature John Carty (on fiddle, flute and banjo – though he’s been performing live with the band for several years now) and the last to include accordionist Jackie Daly, who only appears on two tracks. Indeed, following Jackie’s departure, Patrick Street must be the only Irish ‘supergroup’ whose members were all born in England (three in London and guitarist Ged Foley in Durham)! A ‘Dublin band’, Songlines?
This latest album very much follows the standard Patrick Street format. There’s a wide mix of various dance tunes (three sets of reels, including wonderful interplay between Kevin and John on Down the Broom/The Gatehouse Maid/Mulvihill’s, plus hornpipes, jigs and slip jigs, as well as a set of polkas with Jackie Daly’s box to the fore) and John’s own composition the air/jig Seanamhac Tube Station. Indeed there can have been no more joyous sound on a recent recording than the sheer swing and sway of the twin fiddles on Martin Wynne’s.
Andy digs deep into his repertoire for three songs: The Rich Irish Lady, learnt from a Peggy Seeger LP in the late 1950s; plus Erin Go Bragh, first heard in a Hull pub in 1964; and, Sergeant Small, a depression song gleaned from his many visits to Australian. As has become a matter of course, but really needs reiteration, there are few singers in the English-speaking world able to tap so fundamentally into the wellsprings of a song than Andy and these three song outings tremendously reinforce that fact. Additionally, there’s a rare outing for Ged’s vocal cords on an engrossing version of The Galway Shawl.
Lastly, those two concluding tracks with Jackie Daly provide a gorgeous reminder of the accordionist’s ability to spur a tune ever onwards into the deepest regions of the imagination and provide some of the slickest ‘tips’ you’ll ever hear in your life.
Ever enthralling, On the Fly is an essential purchase.
Geoff Wallis - 5th March, 2008
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CD Reviews: Patrick Street – On The Fly
‘On the fly’ usually denotes hurriedness, a quick-fix in a situation where time is limited. However, this On the Fly does not betray anything of moves made in-flight or constrained by time. On this, the eighth studio…
On the Fly – Loftus Music LM002
‘On the fly’ usually denotes hurriedness, a quick-fix in a situation where time is limited. However, this On the Fly does not betray anything of moves made in-flight or constrained by time. On this, the eighth studio album from Patrick Street, the music is measured out in a space which flows around, above and in-between the 47 minutes it takes to play through the twelve tracks.
More than being just another release, this album represents an important shift in the line-up of Patrick Street as it formally marks the departure of Jackie Daly. But in effect, Daly already recorded his last Patrick Street album with Street life (2002), featuring on just two tracks, quite appropriately.
As a replacement, John Carty adds a new dimension to the group’s sound. His fiddle, flute and banjo playing create interesting settings, counterparts and leads to Kevin Burke’s flowing bow. In the tune selections Carty and Burke explore their shared musical background. While on well-roved paths – such as ‘Happy to meet Sorry to Part’, ‘Martin Wynne’s’ and ‘Down the Broom’ – their twin fiddles create a raw, direct sound that is often unnecessarily smoothed over in contemporary traditional recordings.
On the song front, Ged Foley makes a brave attempt at resuscitating the worn out ‘Galway Shawl’; it took a while, but it grew on me. As usual, Andy Irvine is reassuring in the regular consistency of his sound world. ‘The Rich Irish Lady’ is a fine example of his inventiveness with contrapuntal accompaniment. Indeed, on each of the four songs there is an interplay which makes full use of the four musicians.
Overall, the production creates a live feel. The studio is absent in that you only ever hear four musicians, albeit in an ideally balanced setting: it is a document of things as they are rather than a fiction created in the studio or on stage. Within Patrick Street is the present place of Irish traditional music as it is in the flesh; this music could happen in your house.
I don’t limit my enjoyment of the album to one track, but there is certainly one that stands out for me: the set of hornpipes, ‘The Long Acre/Cuz Tehans’. This is as good as it gets, temperately measured with notes falling into each other like dominoes, moving to form a design mapped out by the four individuals.Banjo and fiddle moving together forces a smile, but words only catch the sentiment on the fly: go and listen for yourself.