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Colm Gannon, Jesse Smith and John Blake – The Ewe With The Crooked Horn (JCB01, 2010)

Ah! Sleevenotes! Before this fine new collection of tunes from Colm Gannon, Jesse Smith and John Blake made it to the CD player, my appetite was whetted by the discussion of the sources via which they'd come by their material. Players from the 'Golden Age' of the 20s and 30s are namechecked time and again.  The influence of these old masters continues to be felt; however unlike, say, David Munnelly or At The Racket to name just two, whose homages to the golden era are quite literal (and there's damn all wrong with that!), Gannon, Smith and Blake use their sources as foundations on which they layer their own powerful, passionate and utterly sensitive approach to the tunes.

Indeed, power, passion and sensitivity are the watchwords on this album. Gannon's ornate, yet driving box dovetails beautifully with Smith's fiddling which is at once intricate and immediate. As you'd expect, John Blake provides the usual rock-steady accompaniment on guitar and piano. When he picks up the flute, from time to time, we're reminded that Blake is as handy with the melody as with backing.

Mighty tunes, mightily played, abound. From the opening reel – McGreevey's, an unusual but contagious version of the popular Speed The Plough – through to the closing Down Through The Broom, taking in jigs, reels, flings and hornpipes en route, this is a musical tour de force not to be missed.

As they close their sleeve notes, the lads say “Hope you enjoy”. Well, there's one wish that has certainly come true.

For more information please go to (at the time of writing the site is not yet fully up and running, but keep an eye out for “go live”).

Track listing:

McGreevey's (Speed The Plough)/The Silvermines

Jim Donoghue's Jig/Gan Ainm/The Wearied Lad

The Honeymoon Reel/The Connemara Stockings

I'm A Man In Myself Like Oliver's Bull/Drimroe Cross

O'Keeffe's/Boy On The Hilltop

I Rambled Once/I'm Content With My Lot

Old Stack Of Wheat/Johnny Will You Marry Me?

Dunboyne Straw Plaiters/Wheels Of The World

The Four Courts

The Mouse In The Cupboard/The Lark On The Strand

The London Lasses/The Burnt Cabbage

The Ewe With The Crooked Horn/Pol Ha'penny

Strike The Gay Harp/My Former Wife

Give Us Another/The Stone In The Field

The Kesh/Richard Dwyer's Jig

The Killavil Reel/Down Through The Broom

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February 2010


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