www.tradconnect.com, August 2013. Review by Tony Lawless
The Sunny Banks brings together the talents of Edel Fox on concertina and Neill Byrne on fiddle for a much anticipated release. They set the bar very high indeed and comparisons could immediately be drawn with the classic Noel Hill and Tony Linnane album from the late 70’s. It is worth noting that Noel Hill was Edel’s teacher and mentor from a very early age and his influence and inspiration still prevails. Time has moved on and the student has very much become the master. The Sunny Banks has within its grooves all the necessary ingredients to lift it into “classic” territory. It is a supremely confident recording and time will I believe bestow on it the recognition that it commands. It is astoundingly good for a number of reasons. It is perfectly paced, imaginative and beautifully played with a live raw and honest feel to it. Tune selection is very engaging and the general feeling or vibe off the recording harks back to recordings of an earlier time. Recording the album in analogue form may have contributed to the overall sound.. Edel and Neill have developed their style from countless hours and sessions playing together over the years. This is evident from the beautiful synchronicity in their playing. They move through the album with some inspired sets, key changes and a lightness of touch that seems effortless. Significant work must have gone into the tune selection because every set has points of interest. You just get drawn in with the early Tommy Peoples inspired tracks with their two octave range, namely Jocelyn’s Jig and a barn dance from an early Peoples album called Kitty O’ Neill’s which is magnificent. The Hill of Bruff which is a composition by Meath accordion player Lorna Davey is sublime. A version of Pigeon on the Gate sourced from the aforementioned Hill/Linnane recording is included as are a whole range of tunes from musicians and composers that have over the years provided inspiration. Simply wonderful music. Accompaniment is by Caoimhin Ó Fearghail on guitar and Richie Lyons on bodhrán and is never overly imposing. It is a fine example of how an album should be mastered with regard to supporting musicians. In a nutshell The Sunny Banks has everything. A perfect pairing of instruments, overall sound, tune selection, pacing and did I mention tune selection. It is without a doubt the must have traditional album of the year.