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This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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As Boys of the Lough member McConnell states in his liner notes, when this is your first solo release since 1978 and it's three years in the making, the title "Long Expectant Comes At Last" is an extremely apt one. Ironically, the inclusion of the cut providing the title for the CD occurred only because the producers, unbeknownst to McConnell, kept taping while he sang the song to another musician after a long recording session.
Presenting a mix of jigs, reels and airs while performing effortlessly on flute and whistle, McConnell also sprinkles a number of a cappella tunes and other songs throughout this release, one that draws heavily from Counties Fermanagh and Antrim tradition.
In keeping with song titles and subject matter that appear to be an unwritten celtic music release prerequisite, he opens with "The Banks of Strathdon." Removing compositions that include the word 'banks' in the title from the collective of celtic music would seemingly seriously deplete the world of numerous lad and lassie love and loss tunes, and the subject matter here is no exception.
Backed by piano, fiddle and cello, with harmony vocals by Susan McKeown and Richard Thompson, McConnell's exquisite version of "The Gypsies" is another true-love-wins-out, damn-the-cost offering.
On "There's The Day," McConnell is backed by a chorus of fourteen! Tilting barrels and "drinking while we're able" seemingly qualifies this for entry into the pantheon of great drinking songs.
This is certainly a CD for flute and whistle aficionados and for those counting, there are ten reels, four jigs and two airs included among the offerings--an amalgamation that provides steady changes in sound and rhythm. Not being a live release, it's too bad McConnell's pixie-ish sense of humor isn't on display. Still, this is an easy to listen to work of solid professionalism.
McConnell, on vocals, flute and tin whistle, is backed by a combination of a who's-who of celtic musicians and others lesser known: John Doyle on acoustic guitar; Winifred Horan on fiddle; Joe McKenna on uilleann pipes; Linda Thompson on harmony and backup vocals; Pat Kilbride on cittern; Bill Peek on piano; Jim Whitney on double bass; Richard Thompson on Gibson lap steel guitar, electric guitar and harmony vocals; Andy Statman on mandolin and clarinet; Big John McManus on fiddle and vocals; Jeff Berman on percussion; Susan McKeown on harmony and backup vocals; Michelle Kinney on cello; Kenny Kosek on fiddle; Joanie Madden on alto flute; Lindsey Horner on bowed double bass and woodwinds; Trevor Hutchison on electric upright bass; Valerie McManus on vocals; Colm Murphy on bodhran; Dave Mattacks on drums; Patrick Ourceau on fiddle; Lenny Pickett on clarinet and bass clarinet; Geoff Muldaur on woodwinds; Charlie Lennon on piano and chorus vocals; and Len Graham, David Garland, Don Meade, Tim Hill, Heather Wood, Andy Nagy and Oscar Brand on chorus vocals.
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