Pat Kilbride,
Nightingale Lane
(Temple, 2002)

Pat Kilbride has had an astonishing musical career, having played with the Battlefield Band (which he has just rejoined after 23 years), Kips Bay Ceili Band and, of course, with accordionist John Whelan. Nightingale Lane is one of his fine solo albums, and though he's joined by a few colleagues along the way, his solo guitar talents shine as brightly as fresh strings.

"Popeye's Set" is a wonderful grouping of three dance tunes on which Kilbride sounds like a whole host of guitarists, and it's a grand way to start the party. Nancy Griffith's "Hard Life" gets a strong and powerful reading from Kilbride, who's accompanied here by his friends Miriam Kavanagh, Brian Kelly and Kane O'Rourke, who give the song a nice session feel. Fiddler Alasdair White contributes mightily to "The March of the King of Laois," which segues into two rollicking originals of White's.

Turlough O'Carolan's music is heard with "Henry McDermott Roe, "Morgan Magan" and "Lord Inchquin," all of which are sheer delights. (Did O'Carolan ever have a bad day?) The first and third are played on cittern, for a classically baroque sound, while the second is done as a lovely and simple solo guitar piece. "The Kinsale Herring" is a fun little song, and Kilbride's original, "The Lough Beg Waltz," is a delicate and moving tune that uses harmonics beautifully. "Henry My Son" is a cautionary tale about poison eels, one of those call and response ballads that goes on forever, but is nonetheless contagious by dint of repetition. "The Woodlawn Suite" is slow and dramatic, and mournfully minor key until it goes into a gentle but sprightly jig.

The more I listen to Kilbride's "Rickrack," the more I like it. It's a melancholy song about the alienation of the young, children put upon from all sides and finding solace in the promise of an uncertain future. The album ends with the instrumental title track, a fingerstyle guitar showcase that takes us out in high style.

This fourth solo album by Pat Kilbride is a real treat for guitar aficionados as well as Celtic music lovers, and I recommend it highly. But I still wonder about that cover ... what are this man and woman's shadows reaching for? And does it belong on a family website? Ah well, the music's what matters after all!

[ by Chet Williamson ]
Rambles: 3 August 2002

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