Irish Music Magazine, October issue 2013

Irish Music Magazine, October issue 2013. Review by Alex Monaghan

Clare concertina charmer Edel Fox already has a couple of albums under her belt, a solo stunner and a duet with Galway fiddler Ronan O’Flaherty. Now she’s crossed the country to find a fiddler from Waterford: Neill Byrne. Neill has made a name for himself nationally and internationally, and his music has been influenced by many fiddlers including local composer John Dwyer. Together, Edel and Neill play traditional Irish music as it should be played, with warmth and understanding, and with a great deal of skill. The Sunny Banks is a true collaboration, every track bar two is a duet and it would take a better man than me to tease the instruments apart. Edel even switches to the fiddle for one set of slip jigs, which makes separation all the harder. If it weren’t for the harmonies, inventive and playful, you’d be forgiven for doubting that there was more than one musician at work here. Listen to Kitty O’Neill’s Barndance, an intricate little melody, and marvel at the flawless triplets and perfect synchronisation.

There’s so much to admire here. The bold step into Poirt Cuil Aodha, the Scottish pipe march Lochanside with its unusual rhythms, the pumping drive on big reels such as Sean sa Cheo and The Pigeon on the Gate, the beautiful slow waltz Seothín Seothó, and the storming final track which gives this CD its title, taken from a great modal reel I first heard played by The Chieftains in the seventies. Edel’s solo starts with Nana Jo’s, a reel she composed which has an American flavour to my ear, and she follows that with the classic Murphy’s and Jackson’s. There’s hardly any need for the deft accompaniment on guitar, bouzouki and bodhrán, but here as elsewhere it adds a delicate touch. Neill also favours reels for his solo, and chooses two traditional favourites followed by Brendan McGlinchey’s Farewell to London which covers all four strings of the fiddle. Compositions by several other fiddlers feature on this recording – Charlie Lennon, Joe Liddy, Sean Ryan, and of course John Dwyer. The final piece of fiddle homage is paid by Elizabeth Kelly’s Favourite and The First Slip, twin fiddling from Neill and Edel on two fine slip jigs. It’s impossible not to like The Sunny Banks, and it will probably be in my Top Ten for 2013.