Stephen Bradney,
Erin's Green Shore
(self-produced, 1999)

Stephen Bradney's CD Erin's Green Shore has the potential to be very good; however, it lacks the energy and intensity that most Celtic music possesses. The album is composed of traditional Celtic songs, plus one original song titled "The Waters Edge" by Eva Bradney.

It would have been a good idea to open the CD with either "Boston City" or "The Mermaid." Maybe that might have hidden the ill-recorded first three songs, "Erin's Green Shore," "Keg of Brandy" and "Wind That Shakes the Barley." These are all great songs, but as recorded on this CD they are all almost unbearable to listen to. The vocals are flat on several occasions and the guitar is often out of tune. "Wind That Shakes the Barley" is not so bad as it progresses, but the beginning is much too slow, almost like a funeral procession. This is very out of character for the type of song. However, as the CD continues on, these problems become less apparent, and the music is more enjoyable to listen to.

I particularly like the song "Boston City." The bodhran adds a very playful sense to it, the tempo is fast and the melody is catchy. The same goes for the next song, "The Mermaid," which is very upbeat and energetic, and makes you want to get up and dance. Obviously, a song does not have to have a fast tempo to be of good quality, but these are two of the few songs on the CD that really move and progress.

"Wild and Wicked Youth," like the first three songs, could be sung a lot better, but I particularly enjoy the guitar part. It keeps the song moving, and sounds very intense. Stephen Bradney plays guitar very well for this style of music. "Endearing Young Charms" is the song I enjoy most on this CD. It is set at a slow tempo with Bradney's voice accompanied by piano and cello, both played by John Le Vasseur. The cello in particular was a tasteful addition, complementing the song greatly. The piano sounds very light and sweet, and the cello is rich in spirit and intensity.

Bradney exhibits a lot of talent and potential. His rather rustic voice is well-suited for the style of music he plays. His selection of music is very likable, and his interpretations of traditional songs are very interesting. I look forward to hearing any of his forthcoming CDs, perhaps with a little more polish, and more of a wonderful traditional selection.

[ by Stephanie Giamundo ]