Patrick Clifford,
American Wake
(independent, 2010)

If you're an Irishman living in America, is there a moment when you stop being Irish and become an American? That's the theme of ths album by Patrick Clifford, a New York City kid born of Irish immigrant parents. In his liner notes, Clifford recalls a conversation with his mother, in which he suggests that she'll be retiring and going back to Ireland one of these days.

"No," she answers, "I couldn't leave America now. I've changed too much."

Her words caused Clifford to think; this album is the result. An American wake was a ceremony that took place in Irish homes the night before a family member sailed to America. Family and friends would drop by, view the steamer trunk laid out on the table like a coffin and say their last goodbyes to the immigrant. As though at a funeral, they would try top offer solace to the grieving family members left behind.

Clifford captures the many moods of the immigration in the songs he has collected for the album. Old standard leaving home songs are here -- "The Leaving of Liverpool," "Mary from Dungloe" and "The Shores of Amerikay," for example.

Clifford, a skilled Irish musician and singer who has spent time in the American-Irish band Four to the Bar, as well as studying with fine musicians like Liz Dacey and Martin Mulvihill, has the chops to put this material across. He doesn't oversell the sadness and pathos, instead choosing to present the songs honestly and sincerely, letting the listener discover the many moods that lay beneath the loss of a home and the finding of another, different one.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

15 October 2011

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