Golden Bough,
Pirate Gold
(independent, 2007)

Golden Bough, a West Coast Celtic trio consisting of sopranos Kathy Sierra and Margie Butler and tenor Paul Espinoza, multi-instrumentalists all, has built a strong following over the 20 years they've been together. Here they leave the Celtic music they're known for behind, for a more specialized subgenre: pirate music.

Don't be mistaken. The music is still Celtic, just more limited. Harps, pennywhistles, bodhrans, violas, mandolins, accordions and guitars abound, and the songs all have the jaunty bounce of Celtic fare. Most are traditional.

What's missing is variety. Thirteen songs about pillaging and plundering, no matter how well-played and sung, tend to get a touch repetitive. We sail the wild Barbary, meet seafaring men ( some of them one-legged), we encounter bad men like Shifty Morgan and good ones like Henry Martin and, after a while, for this listener at least, it all gets to be a little much.

Odd as it might sound, the problem is that Golden Bough is a fine band, and by choosing pirate songs as the theme for the album, they've bound themselves too tightly. I look forward to hearing their more varied offering of Celtic fare.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

16 February 2008

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