This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 9/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The cover says it all: "From green grass to bluegrass...The Chieftains trace country and bluegrass music to their Irish roots."
Does this release succeed? Mightily.
The proof? Adding the pipes, flute, whistle, bodhran and such adds a uniqueness to each of the offerings, creating, in a way, a brand new song. Or, in the spirit of this release, a brand old song.
In almost every cut, there is either a discernible celtic foundation or an interlude that grounds the tune in the celtic genre. It may be in the forefront or the background, but the connection is readily distinguishable.
Bela Fleck's reels are a prime example. They veer back and forth from a celtic emphasis to a more Appalchia sound. One can easily picture Fleck's offerings at home in both an Irish pub and on a front porch somewhere in Kentucky.
Some of the performers are as might be expected but surprises include: Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, Vince Gill, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings--artists not readily thought of as having celtic roots.
But fear not! Lost or forbidden love, long a staple of the bluegrass, country and celtic genres is certainly on display here. "Katie Dear," by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, amplifies this theme, as does Alison Krauss' "Molly Ban," the Del McCoury Band's "Rain And Snow," and others.
Problems with the drink are also featured in Buddy and Julie Miller's, "Country Blues," and the title cut, "Down The Old Plank Road," featuring John Hiatt, Bela Fleck, Jeff White and Tim O'Brien.
Only on Martina McBride's, "I'll Be All Smiles Tonight," is there some difficulty in picking out any celtic connection. That is, minus the melancholy storyline.
This is a guest artist-featured album. The Chieftains, except for a few step-to-the-fore solos, provide the backing--but quite exquisite backing.
Next up: The Chieftains and Eminem. Celtic rap. If any band could do it, The Chieftains are my bet.
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