This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/06
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It could simply be a matter of needing to expand my knowledge, but I've been thinking for some time now that there
certainly is room in the genre of celtic music for a contemporary
artist to go beyond the loads of traditional songs, however
enjoyable, that comprise so many releases. And then, as if a genie has
granted me my wish, Eamon Friel serendipitously appears.
A Derry resident, Friel is a songwriter-singer, with a very
special emphasis on the former. Each of the ten offerings on his latest
release are original compositions save one, and he shared penning duties
on that cut. At times poetic, laden with reflection and depth, Friel's
songwriting is certainly original, but more importantly, engaging.
Two prime examples are "King and Queen" and "The Western Wind,"
songs that hold up quite well even when matched up with say Dougie
MacLean's pastoral compositions.
In "King and Queen" Friel charmingly portrays two mountains
actually conversing and later on invokes events in Irish history.
There's a wonderful fairy-tale quality to it all and it's a song that
could easily be envisioned as an animated video.
"The Western Wind" pays gentle, moving homage to yet another
element of nature. Singing of the breezes and blasts whipping through
Mayo, Donegal and Derry, Friel finishes with:
"...your mind's made up your course is set
Your feet are in the ocean yet
The forests dance beneath your hand
Your long arms reach across the land..."
Friel includes elements of the outdoors in almost every song. The opening cut, "Here is the River," the title subject (the River Foyle in Derry?) remains everpresent as human beings come to life, live out their lives and then disappear.
The bittersweet "All the Lost Things" seems similarly themed
although Friel combines animate and inanimate objects here. A leather
jacket, a wedding ring, war medals, a plastic boat and vagabond humans
all vanish and soon become forgotten.
The melancholy "From My Window" reflects back on an individual's life:
"...Tell me that the dreams are dead too soon, tell me that the times
are out of tune, say I've lost my way..."
"Never Say Die" seems quite apt for the life of a starving
musician. About stubbornly keeping on despite many an obstacle, Friel
includes this gem of a line about independence: "...singing solo means
you've quit the choir..."
Ay, songs of love do make an appearance. "Love of My Heart"
opens with this plea to accept the past but, more importantly, to move on to new opportunity:
"Love of my heart don't be thinking of yesterdays
Words in the wind promises never kept
Friends that are gone or have turned into strangers now
Faith that was false things that we must accept..."
Friel concludes with this line: "Love is a song sung in a world of stone."
Combining some spoken word with his singing, Friel's is a
gentle voice but one well-matched with his material. The
instrumentation includes splashes of guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin, fiddle, organ,
whistle, percussion and bodhran
Again, this appears a most unusual release, combining
mentions of towns and areas in Ireland and Northern Ireland with the
kind of rumination and comtemplation so often associated with American
singer-songwriters. Slip this CD on, cut the lights and enjoy the journey.
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