What I listened to in the summer of ’22, part 2: Dave Sheridan, AVA

Two Irish 🇮🇪 artists that got my attention this summer are very different; one established and trad, the other fairly new and decidedly not trad.

The master flautist Dave Sheridan’s two albums, Sheridan’s Guest House (2006) and Drivin’ Leitrim Timber (2010) were a great delight. As the Celtic scene is brim full of good trad music, it takes a really remarkable musician to stand out. Sheridan’s playing is so alive and exhibits such musicianship, he seems to shine a new light on the genre even when (mostly) staying within its boundaries. These albums made me feel good and I’d recommend them to anyone asking for a quality introduction to instrumental Irish Trad.

The singer-songwriter Éabha McMahon performs and records as AVA and her solo debut album Wildflower (2021) was a pleasant surprise. Not folk, even less trad, AVA’s music bears echoes of post- 1980 Clannad and Enya but tilts more towards compact songs, world music influences and even radio-friendly pop. There are even a couple of tunes that feel a bit too Eurovision to my taste, but on the whole the sum is clearly on the positive side.

Her voice is lovely and she prefers to understate rather than go for force and it works well. The lyrics are not bad either and a song like One More Day in its simplicity is genuinely touching in its empathy for someone struggling in their life. I look forward for more from her as I think there’s even more to her talent that’s on exhibit here.

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