Joe Giltrap,
The Soldiers Tree
(Weaving, 1998)

Joe Giltrap is one of the finest singer-songwriters on the scene today. His voice has a unique quality that is ideally suited to the story-song. He mines a rich vein of history for the tracks on this CD alongside some personal romantic tracks.

The opening and title track is typical of his historical output. It tells the sad and haunting tale of a soldier who commits suicide, not from unrequited love but rather from disillusionment with warfare. "The Ballad of William Crotty" relates the true tale of an outlaw in the Comeragh mountains in the 18th century.

Giltrap is equally at home singing of the beauty of his native Ireland as only an exile can. He brings us to childhood days with "Leixlip Memories" and romantic encounters on "Met You in Mullingar."

As with all the best in folk music there are the songs to make us think. This has seldom been done more powerfully than on two tracks offered here. "No Travellers Allowed" brings us face to face with Ireland's more ingrained and hidden racism.

My personal favourite is one that faces another curse of modern life to which Ireland is far from immune. As he asks on "Moving On," "Do you recall what brought you down, a loved one's death, a broken crown, no family there to lend a hand?" In its very simplicity of language, thought and melody it strikes home a true message on homelessness.

"What's the Matter Little One" is another gem as we are transported to the war-torn lands to meet real people and real suffering seldom realized on television news.

The backing vocals of Patty Vetta add an extra dimension to this excellent collection of real folk music of the modern world.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 26 February 2005