The Fenians,
Every Day's a Hooley
(Mizen Head, 2003)

From the title and opening of track one, "Token Whiskey Song" written by band member Brendan Harkins, you know where you are with this band and album. There is an obvious love of the traditional folk song here, but also a desire to add to the canon. The Fenians are a highly accomplished band, capable of and ready to push the boundaries of folk music.

They bring us McColl's "Go Move Shift" and McTell's "Clare to Here" alongside the O'Mearas' "Grace" -- but it is the less well-known and newly written material that grabs our attention. "The Girls Along the Road" is an excellent case in point where the arrangement gives new life to the lyrics.

A joint effort from the band is "Baker's Dozen" and it is a potential single hit -- on radio stations with a very liberal agenda only. It is, shall we say, somewhat risque but great fun. It is a lovely story song telling a tale of a couple blessed with a large family ... on the first try.

Listen to "Night Visiting Song" for a totally new version of an old favourite that will enthrall you. I loved the full treatment given to this song.

With a name like the Fenians they could not avoid the old rebel song. Thankfully, they chose a rebel song from the American War Between the States. The track called "Rebel Sons of Erin" is another great story song that will hold your attention.

To show that they can also present a modern romantic track they give us the beautiful "Is It Really You?" The last of the listed tracks is "Every Day's a Hooley," which they subtitle "Tom Dooley Part 2." This is a great pub song that one can just picture getting the audience into that frenzy that only Irish music can achieve.

But do not switch off until you hear the unlisted track 13. I assume that it is "Hooley Hornpipe" by Dave Burnett.

This is a great album combination of old, new and new interpretations.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 7 February 2004

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