Self-titled album by ‘The Alt’ - sympathetic, sensitive and engrossing(September 27, 2014)
It’s only a small step of imagination combining the skills of guitarist and singer John Doyle, vocalist, bouzouki and guitar player Eamon O'Leary and flautist, singer and songwriter Nuala Kennedy to conjure the calibre of an album featuring their combined talent. The result no longer needs invention for it exists in the self-titled album by ‘The Alt’. An album of ravishing beauty bringing together songs and tunes with a sympathetic, sensitive and engrossing touch that makes both old and new seem as fresh as today’s sunrise.
When any group of musicians ‘come together’ to make an album there’s always a nagging fear that the joints and seams may become evident. None of that here. While it’s very much an album of collective expression with individual touches and nuances evident throughout, the result is both tight and balanced. The minute the album opens with ‘Lovely Nancy’ you’re eased into its collective pull. The draw continues through ‘What Put The Blood’, a mix of variations of the familiar ‘Edward’, into a scintillating set ‘The Geese In The Bog/ Covering Ground’ and a sharp rendition of a broadside by W.H. Bellamy and S. Nelson combined with a jaunty reel ‘Going For A Soldier Jenny/ The Chandelier’. There is nothing but treasure on this album, my favourites are the sweetly sung‘Finn Waterside’ and a delightful version of ‘The Eighteenth of June’ recalling Napoleon Bonaparte's defeat at the bloody Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.
The influence of Irish music and its history goes to the depths of American roots music and in turn the enduring continuance of that heritage owes much to its unceasing residency ‘across the pond’. With this album John Doyle, Eamon O'Leary and Nuala Kennedy ensure that tenure continues.
Reviewer: Charlie Elland