(SBF, 1997)

"The Irish Opera" is such a frantic piece of music, I wasn't sure how the band Ballycotton was going to be able to sustain its energy level through an entire CD. Ah ha! Or so I thought, when the piece turned slow and mournful at the midpoint -- but it didn't last, and the galloping pace resumed within seconds.

Fairytale is, on the whole, a rapidly paced recording made by a quartet of exceedingly talented musicians with a broad range of musical styles to blend with their seemingly Irish core. But Ballycotton, despite being named for a fishing village in southern Ireland, hails from Austria -- and their influences are broader still. I swear, you will find yourself at times thinking the group comes from some Russian hinterland, Spanish moor or roving gypsy caravan, so cunningly do they blend world influences in their sound.

Ballycotton is Matthias Jakisic on fiddle, Gernot Strauss on acoustic guitar, Alex Konig on banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and guitar, and Harald Binder on percussion. Nearly all of the music on Fairytale was composed by the band.

Much of the album is fast-paced, following on the flying heels of "The Irish Opera." Tracks like "Whispering," "Ships are Sailing" and "Fairytale" prove the band can slow down. The relaxed and ambling nature of these tracks shines a different kind of light on the band's musical gifts, particularly the lyrical violin and intricate guitar. (Still, the band can't resist inserting a rousingly fast interlude in "Ships.") With fun tracks (and titles) such as "The Horny, Drunken Wife," "Her Nasty Daughter" and "Sexy Pin-Up Girl," the CD tends to slip into my stereo and stay there for rotation after rotation.

Ballycotton is an exciting, addictive new talent boasting tight musicianship and a raft of original musical ideas. The only thing that could persuade me to take Fairytale out of my stereo now is the newer CD they sent....

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 11 January 2003

[ visit the artist's website ]