A Review of the Eamon Friel CD
"Here is the River"

"Here is the River"
by Eamon Friel

Copyright 2006 Thran Records

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 5/07

When I was a small kid, I went to a school where there was a giant sampler on the wall. The sampler had been sewn by students long gone to the senior school. The words read as follows:

“Lost. One Golden Hour studded with Sixty Ruby Minutes, set in Sixty Brilliant Diamond Moments.”

It is about half a century since I last saw that sign. And I doubt if I have ever even thought about it for at least seven or eight years. But for some bizarre reason, it flashed across the inside of my eyelids as I listened in rapt attention/concentration to this album late at night with the lights down (I was following the advice of Kevin in his review) cr-EamonFriel.htm

Ah, who knows why the human brain moves in the ways it does? Often there is no logic: just wonderful serendipity.

And needless to say, the image suddenly appearing in my memory, was not a sign that I was wasting time here: on the contrary, it was telling me that here I was spending my time just about as fruitfully as it was possible to do. So thank you, Eamon Friel.

To my shame, I had missed his previous 4 albums. And I mean “shame”, because I was aware of his abilities having heard him several times on BBC Radio 5. And so this album has proved the revelation that albums 1-4 may have been to his different fans.

It is close on being an unalloyed DELIGHT. From start to finish. His songs entertain, enthral, make you smile and put a tear in the eye. What more can you ask for?

And he delivers them in a Christy Moore/Sands Family “sotto voce” delivery, and in an accent less redolent of his hometown of Stroke City (Derry/Londonderry), and perhaps more reminiscent of a “universal” Irish accent. The sort of accent that Limerick born Frank McCourt has (although he has had his many years as a New York schoolteacher iron out the creases in his!).

And why do I think of McCourt? No doubt my brain is making weird connections again.

I suppose he springs to mind because the overriding impression one gets with Friel is not just of a very pleasant singer (which he is); not of a man with an ear for a good tune (which he sure has); but above all, one leaves the CD's final strains convinced that here one is in the presence of a natural storyteller.

This man has a big novel in him. One day we will get it. For the moment we music fans should thank our lucky stars that he is writing these novellas which he is then compressing into four or five stanzas of real beauty.

There is not a track that disappointed me. And several that proved ready to take residence in my soul.

Foremost of these is a sensational song called “King And Queen”. No, no, it lays no heavy political “trip” on you: quite the opposite. It is wondrous work of his imagination. These two are not royals but mountain peaks, and Friel gloriously imagines them in conversation with each other. And it is not just the lyrics: the tune also is a little gem. Especially the mandolin playing at the end: it is as haunting an instrumental passage as I have heard in an age.

Throughout the musicianship is of the highest order, and if I mention Eddie O'Donnell's mandolin there, let me hasten to add that I could easily mention the dozen other fine musicians Eamon surrounds himself with.

Don't ask yourself whether you will buy a copy of this CD. Ask yourself, how MANY copies!

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, UK

Track List:

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