Album Review: A John Doyle Double Feature

John Doyle, Ireland’s great gift to guitar in folk music, has obviously been a busy guy lately. His latest solo effort, Path Of Stones, came out in the spring and the collaboration album with a certain Mr. McGoldrick was released just a wee moment ago. Since I was not writing here too much during spring, I bundled these albums together and say just a few words about them now.

Path of Stones features eleven tracks of original material that doesn’t wander too far from Irish singer-songwriter tradition; this is a very song-oriented album. As to be expected, the playing from Doyle himself is excellent and as he is accompanied by a fine lineup, feat. Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker, among others, the result is faultless.

There are no real surprises either, though, but should that matter much? Nah, it’s enjoyable as it is. My favorites are the beautiful ballad Her Long Hair Flowing Down and the great album-closing guitar bonanza Knock a Chroí / Beltra Fair / Aughris Head.

The eponymous Doyle/McGoldrick album is mostly instrumental, as to be expected, and also stays firmly in the traditional comfort zone of these masters.

It’s so exhilarating to hear Mike’s dizzying flutes and whistles spinning around John’s guitar, and I’m again elated by the sheer lack of effort. Few attain this level of musicianship in any genre

By the way, those who think guitar in Celtic folk means ”just strumming the chords” as I’ve heard someone in the rock scene once say, should listen to the detail, colors and dynamics John Doyle creates in his playing, even when he’s ”only” accompanying Michael. I dare you to do the same.

For me, this is a fairly straightforward feel good album, full of joy and top notch playing, and I will only mention that Shoot The Crows / Hagges Reel is, for some reason, the track that stands out the most for me but that I enjoy all of them 🙂

Path of Stones can be purchases, in the format of your choice, here: https://store.compassrecords.com/products/the-path-of-stones

I found no ”home base” for The Doyle/McGoldrick album but it seems to be available in the usual channels.

***

A few words on streaming and buying music

I don’t in any way avoid Spotify or Apple Music; without them, one could not neither binge nor educate oneself on all kinds of music, new and old. For someone who lives music, they are just wonderful – but the fiscal compensations the musicians get from them are pitiful, really.

So I do purchase all the releases I like, usually as download on Bandcamp or the artist’s or their records company’s web site – and it is not expensive either. I prefer downloads for environmental reasons and because I listen to lots of music when on the move.
But whatever your choice format, please buy the music you like, even if you stream it on Spotify because it’s so simple.
Especially in times like these, the great musicians in any genre need, and deserve, your support.

Thanks!

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