A Review of the Sean Tyrrell CD
"The Best Of Sean Tyrrell"

"The Best Of Sean Tyrrell"
by Sean Tyrrell

Copyright 2004
Arc Music International
P.O. Box 111
East Grinstead, West Sussex
RH19 4FZ
Great Britain

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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"Best of" releases always come face-to-face with the matter of contradiction. Fans tend to be delighted at the inclusion of personal favorites but lamentful or even worse at 'missing' songs--ones that in each person's estimation are integral or a 'must' for an artists's all-time collection. But it ultimately all boils down to being the performer's call.

As is the nature of the beast, Sean Tyrrell's latest will undoubtedly be grist for such a mill.

But with a couple of exceptions, Tyrrell has made very good selections here for this particular enthusiast.

"Mattie" is a wise opening selection. Full of spirits, of both liquid and corporeal nature, plus putting on display the craic, singing and temporary refuge found in pubs, it encompasses a fair number of aspects of Irish culture in just less than three and a half minutes.

The words of Judi McKeown in "Sweet Ballyvaughan" elevates the melancholy of this 'lovers parted by the ocean' song. The opening verse:

"Raindrops cling to the branches
The sun makes them diamonds at dawn
The birds sing a song for the whole world to hear
And nature she just carries on..."

Noted as oft-requested to be sung by Tyrrell at funerals is "John O'Dreams." This dirge-like Bill Caddick tune, written to a theme from Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, 'The Pathetique,' is a perfect match for the gravitas of Tyrrell's vocals. And it is his singing and interpretation of songs that draw in the listener.

A sorrowful tale of emigration stirs the heart in "Isle of Inisfree," balanced by a fairly optimistic New Year's offering, "The Rising of the Moon," a call to positive action in making the world a better place.

The oft-heard theme in Irish music of lost love is the focus of "One Starry Night." Interestingly, it contains lines from the well-known "Carrickfergus."

"The Man From Galway," a song turned poem, now back into song, is a fun ride with its play on words and mention of various people in world history. "Skin The Goat" is missing a few of the verses in the liner notes but the ill inflicted upon the protagonist in the song comes through bright and clear.

In W. B. Yeats elegant and eloquent "Caps and Bells," humor is the way to a woman's heart, and more. "Marian's Song," while immersed in exisitentialistic woes of humankind present since the beginning of time, is comtemporary, set in the modern day.

"Cry of the Dreamer" is but one of at least three John Boyle O'Reilly poems Tyrrell has set to music and an important inclusion. As with "Isle of Inisfree," it's theme is the human solvency to be found in nature and the bucolic, not in the crowded city.

"Side By Side" and "Wild Mountain Thyme" are the two most curious selections. While a worthwhile song, "Side By Side" just doesn't seem to fit. It's message of love triumphing over the absence of material comfort certainly dovetails with parts of Irish history, but musically, it remains a jarring inclusion. "Wild Mountain Thyme" is a lovely song but one performed almost to death. This one also seems to have at least two titles, with "Will Ye Go Lassie Go?" also used by some performers.

This will be an excellent first exposure to those wishing to explore the talents of Sean Tyrrell. For those already in the flock, this particular mix and match of music, while not presenting much new to the ears, is still a fresh and unfamiliar combination.


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