Jamie O'Brien, |
My Wild Irish Boy
Jamie O'Brien's new album sparkles with fun and innocence, which is rare for a performer as seasoned as O'Brien. The songs and tunes that make up the 50-minute album are refreshingly original and O'Brien has a sincerity in his voice that mixes perfectly with the acoustic instrumental accompaniment.
O'Brien plays guitar and sings, and is joined by a variety of other instrumentalists and vocalists to create the well filled out sound.
Having worked with many different artists and groups in the past, O'Brien has some great musicians backing him up and, occasionally taking the lead. The fiddle sets, for instance, are led by fiddlers with very different styles. Bruce Young plays more in the Celtic vein, while Ryck Kaiser plays in an old-time style. Kristine Allen plays in a third and completely different style again, sounding more like a classically trained violinist than a fiddler. She is backed up by Kaiser, and the harmony of the two fiddles is perfect. There is also a fun jig with guitar, mandolin and cittern all played in tandem.
The songs include the heart-wrenching "Hungry Child," where O'Brien's vocals are assisted by Jenny Brennan and the male-female pairing is as haunting as the lyrics, evoking both the child and the mother's voices. This is followed by "Go & Leave Me (Once I Loved)," which is sung much more jovially than Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy's version. Aoife Clancy, formerly of Cherish the Ladies, joins O'Brien for a lovely duet of "White Cockade," which features a military rhythm. "I Courted a Wee Girl" and "Seven Nights Drunk" round out the songs on the album, with the latter involving some lyrics that you wouldn't want to attempt drunk as they are rather tongue-twisteresque.
The title track is an original tune by Tom Griffith, a Long Island singer-songwriter, and O'Brien was given the honour of being the first to record it. Griffish must be pretty glad that he let O'Brien record it because the song is a rollicking, well-arranged piece.
One other feature of note is the cover of the liner notes: on the front is a picture of O'Brien's father as a young boy. There is absolutely no way to dislike a musician who puts his dad on the cover instead of himself (he is on the back, but that isn't really the same).
Jamie O'Brien's solo debut is a wonderful album for a rainy Saturday afternoon. It will cheer you up and make you forget that it is raining. His use of female voices is fantastic and only used when it will add significantly to the song. Otherwise, O'Brien lets his own clear, gentle, true voice carry the singing. This album is a lovely, light recording to listen to and enjoy.
by Jean Emma Price