The Guardian

Review: Ushers’ Island CD review – The Guardian

Usher’s Island: Ushers’ Island CD review – Irish folk supergroup’s warm and unpretentious debut

3 / 5 stars
(Vertical Records)

Songs that cut through … Ushers’ Island

In rock and pop, supergroups often feel like outings of overgrown, silly-haired schoolboys. Folk ones are different, because the coming-together of the generations is in the music’s very blood. This is the idea that pulses and jigs behind the debut album by Usher’s Island, a gathering of Irish musicians from veteran bands such as Planxty and the Bothy Band, and younger musicians Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle, spring chickens in their 40s. Recorded in a County Galway cottage over three days, the mood throughout is old-fashioned, simple and unpretentious. Those wanting wild experiment will go wanting, but the playing is moving and warm, particularly on Bothy Band update Five Drunken Landlady’s and Sean Keane’s. The songs sung by Andy Irvine – now 75, but with a voice decades younger – also cut through, especially on Irish standard Molly Ban. As he sings of its dead subject, shining “Like a fountain in the sun”, the sky blazes.