P.J. McDonald,
The Long Road Home
(Thornhill, 2012)

It may be a long road, but P.J. McDonald starts with a step that is both assured and adventurous. The step in question is "Night in Summer," written by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler, but it fits gloriously into a folk tradition with a powerful tune and strong story. It's truly a great opener and will tease a casual listener to want more.

McDonald delivers with another strong story piece called "The Diamantina Drover." He also lightens the mood occasionally with some lovely instrumental pieces like "The Three Blondes & a Red Head."

Like most exceptional performers he is also a dab hand at composition, and this is clearly shown on a collaboration with Oonagh Derby on the title track. The track is value for money for the lovely fiddle bridge alone.

He gives a beautiful rendition of Dan Seals' "Lullaby" -- some may be familiar with it from the singing of Sean Keane, where McDonald apparently picked it up.

McDonald is a confident performer, and nowhere is this more evident than on "The Emigrant" and his choice of presenting "Mountains of Pomeroy" as a beautiful instrumental offering. He drafts the whole family for a spirited performance of "Galway Bay" that will gladden the heart.

This may be a long road home, but one hopes he doesn't linger long at home when he arrives but gets back out there performing and recording other collections like this one.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

22 June 2013

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