Tommy O'Sullivan, |
This digitally remastered re-release of Irish singer/guitarist Tommy O'Sullivan's debut album should be of interest to those who know him only from his 2003 Compass Records duet album with Paddy Keenan, The Long Grazing Acre. O'Sullivan's prodigious vocal and guitar skills are on full display in this CD, where he's accompanied by Martin O'Hare on bodhran, Matt Cranitch on fiddles, Cian O'Sullivan on whistle and flute, and others.
But the stage belongs to Tommy O'Sullivan. From the first track he uses the guitar like pipes, with a single melodic line dancing on top while the bass notes thrum and drone beneath. It's a marvelous technique. After the two instrumental tracks encompassing the tunes, "The Congress Reel," "The Star of Munster," "The Blarney Pilgrim" and "Pay the Reckoning," O'Sullivan's distinctive and evocative voice is heard on "The Maid of Culmore."
"The Boys from Abbeyfeale" demonstrates his frequently used technique of playing triplets to each beat of the melody while using a supporting bass note every eight beats to add harmony and depth. It sounds simple, but is far harder than it seems. There's a nice change of pace in the old-timey "The Factory Girl," sung a cappella. It sounds like a mountain field recording. "Jutland" is an original air with some complex rhythms and a haunting melody. And speaking of haunting, Cranitch's fiddle moans its way through the lovely ballad, "The Welcome," like a weeping ghost.
There's more sprightly single line work on "The Plains of Boyle/Off to California," and O'Hare joins in on bodhran on "Saddle the Pony/The Monk's Jig" (on which O'Sullivan seems to be overdubbing a rhythm guitar as well) and "The Little Beggarman/The Wise Maid." The CD ends with a sublime "The Water is Wide" and a set of two spirited polkas in which O'Sullivan is joined by Cranitch on fiddle and Stephen Cooney on guitar.
Legacy is an accomplished album that highlights O'Sullivan's talents both vocally and instrumentally. It's also an intimate album, and one can easily imagine O'Sullivan sitting in your favorite pub or even your living room, a pint at hand, playing this altogether captivating music while you drink your drink and tap your toes. It's a worthy addition to your Celtic music collection.