Saint Bartholemew's Feast
(Oxford Road Records, 1998)

Colcannon presents a dynamic blend of fiddle, flutes, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and vocals on their latest recording, Saint Bartholemew's Feast. On this recording, the group manages to capture the essence of a high-energy Celtic session while still maintaining the clarity of a studio recording. The result is stunning! The instrumentalists play together with great precision, and the blend of the instruments leaves nothing to be desired.

Overall, the standouts on this recording tend to be the instrumentals, starting with the delightfully danceable title cut, "Saint Bartholemew's Feast." This original tune has a bit of a Middle Eastern flavor, giving it an exciting and almost medieval edge to it. Another original, a cock-eyed slip jig entitled "Siamese Triplets" makes the heart skip a beat from time to time with its unusual rhythm. There are also some wonderful traditional tunes, including a terrific version of "The Monahan Jig." From original to traditional, this band has a firm handle on making a jig command the feet to dance.

The songs on the recording display a gentle sensitivity in the vocals. Sporting both traditional and original songs, the music is well-chosen and rich in variety. The traditional rendition of "Mary from Dungloe" is touching, and the humorous musical telling of a joke in "The Confession" is bound to bring a smile to many faces.

Although hardly the most musically interesting or exciting of the tunes, the longest song on the album may be my favorite. "Silas" is a ballad of a loyal dog still waiting for his dead master's return. The tune is repetitive, although there are delightful flute riffs scattered throughout to accompany the vocal line and guitar cadence. The words are heartfully delivered by singer Mick Bolger, and succeeded in bringing me to tears not once, but twice. If you're a sucker for animals, watch out for this one.

If you enjoy Irish music, session music, or a good jig, you will find this an enjoyable recording.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

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