Patrick Street,
Street Life
(Green Linnet, 2003)

Patrick Street is the principal thoroughfare in Ireland's second city of Cork. It is also the name of a quartet of accomplished musicians in the Irish tradition: Kevin Burke, Andy Irvine, Jackie Daly and Ged Foley.

The wide appeal of the group may be gathered from their travels. This particular CD was recorded in Ohio, Kildare, New York and Oregon. It opens with a set of traditional jigs that will set you in the mood for the album.

The traditional song "Barna Hill" follows. This simple delivery is like a tourism advert for the Limerick area of Ireland. There is a new trend here in Ireland for faux country singers to record songs that try to mention as many towns and villages as possible -- presumably to get the natives to buy the CD. The author of this song did a similar service but in much better taste and with some class.

More history is commemorated in "If We Had Built a Wall." It is a lovely song from the pen of Dominic Madden. It combines comment on the problems of Ireland but with a certain wit built around the selling of souvenirs of the Berlin Wall. "Down in Matewan" is an Andy Irvine song about some American history of the worst sort. The murderous manner of confronting unionisation is recalled in a full-blooded protest song.

Patrick Street certainly gathers songs from around the globe. Track seven will transport you to Australia with "The Diamantina Drover." I have heard other versions of the song -- I think The Dubliners have one. This delivery is quite different and gives a whole new feel to the song and the sentiments.

They return to the Irish landscape and the traditional for "Green Grow the Laurels." The vocals are beautiful on this song of loss and longing with a quiet delivery that seems so sincere. Alongside these vocal offerings you get hornpipes, jigs, reels, slides and polkas on this excellent album. The lyrics are included and there are nice liner notes on the origins of the songs or how the band members found them.

This is a very valuable addition to any Irish music collection.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 8 November 2003

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