various artists,
Practically Every Day
(Wexford Arts Centre, 2002)

Practically Every Day is the end product of a project that has been taking place at the Wexford Arts Centre for some years now. Each December they organise a songwriter's workshop series. Over a long weekend the aspiring singer-songwriters get an opportunity to work with established writers to hone their skills.

In this third year, they decided to produce a CD that showcases their talent. As with any CD featuring a variety of artists, especially some who are new to the studio, there is variation in content and performance. In 17 tracks I must say the majority are excellent pieces both in writing and performance.

I'll admit up front the CD was produced in my own hometown, for which these musicians ran the risk of a harsher review. As the saying here goes, "we knew them when they didn't have an arse in their pants." (It's called begrudgery.)

Kelvin Busher's "Fire" is a piece of music that could have come from a Nashville studio. Although, like most young performers, his early influences were Nirvana and Pearl Jam, he now prefers folk and bluegrass. This is a very mature and well-constructed story-song that could well become a big earner if he got the airplay.

"Easy Chair" opens with a lovely piece of fiddle playing. It is a track by Donegal-born James McIntyre, who says he wrote his first song at age 14. He plays regularly with the magnificently named group Never Pat a Porcupine. Katie Daly's "Where Did You Go" is a haunting piece very well performed.

The track "Toadstool" is performed and written by Justin Cullen. His backing instruments are listed as guitar, pots and pans, lonely violin and the Avondale Clappers. The lyrics are excellent and well constructed.

Tracy Cahill performs a track called "Experience." This 20-year-old shows great potential based on this single self-penned song. I heard her some years ago perform a lovely version of "Bantry Girl's Lament" but this is a much more blues-influenced number that is delivered with a passion rarely emoted in so young a performer. This girl obviously has a determination to put her heart and soul into her music.

Niall Toner is one of the more experienced singer-songwriters on the CD and his maturity shows through. His track "I'd Rather Be a Rolling Stone" is another piece that could well have originated in Tennessee rather than southeast Ireland. Given a decent airing this is another potential hit for either Toner or any artist taking it on.

Clive Barnes is another polished performer. He has released two CDs of his own work (Shine in 1999 and Welcome to Farewell in 2001) and has toured with Bert Jansch and the Blind Boys of Alabama. His experience shows through on "Drowning a River," which features just his vocals and guitar.

This is a wonderful showcase of the talented writers and performers involved. It would be an excellent purchase for anyone interested in good new music, anyone wondering what sort of songs and performers can come out of a small Irish town or any performers looking for fresh material to record.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 15 March 2003

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