I did some catching up on the brilliant Irish concertina wiz and composer, Pádraig Rynne and his output. His 2019 album, Conscious, was one of the best releases that year, a gem of Celtic Fusion, neofolk, whatever you want to call modern folk music that’s not exactly trad. I love that album to bits.
That one had both acoustic and electric instruments on it, with arrangements that pushed the boundaries of the genre. However, in the other works that have since then come out with his name on the cover stay pretty tightly in the acoustic landscape.
His fairly recent solo outing, Begin With The End In Mind, features both trad and original tunes, with his concertina accompanied only by one or two instruments. It’s a lovely small scale outing highlighting his playing that has so much heart along with the technical virtuosity. For someone not totally enamoured with the concertina, the album as a whole may present a bit of a challenge when listened through at one sitting, but for the rest of us it’s a treat.
I also checked out two absolutely excellent collaborative projects he’s involved in. Avalla (2019), with fiddler Tara Breen (a frequent collaborator with Pádraig), harpist Elaine Hogan and flautist Conor Crimmins playing with Pádraig, is a real delight. The ensemble plays with the grace and ease of a springtime stream and the tunes are all great, it’s a really uplifting and comforting album.
If possible, I enjoyed last year’s Nasc even more. Tara Breen and Elaine Hogan are again in the team, this time with guitarist Jim Murray and the absolute legend Donal Lunny on the bozouki and bodhrán. The band sound is rich and deep – excellent production here – and as the tune selection extends to Brittany and Spain’s Asturias region, there is a lovely variety throughout the album. And it’s very much a band album, with Tara perhaps in the main limelight. I would say that if you’re looking for something fresh and Irish to add to your music collection, Nasc is one I’d immediately recommend, it’s a jewel in its own right, with fab cover art too!
I have yet to listen to Pádraig’s Notify band but will get them soon, expecting more fab stuff!