Album Reviews

Eileen Ivers

Beyond the Bog Road

Artist:     Eileen Ivers

Album:     Beyond the Bog Road

Label:     eOne Music

Release Date:     03/04/2016


Some have hailed Eileen Ivers as “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin,” and I can attest to her ability to work a live audience into frenzy. Her mission here, though, is both serious and ambitious. She focuses on the influences of the Celtic tradition on roots music, covering bluegrass, French Canadian, Cajun, Appalachian, as well as country and blues too. In her own words from the liner notes, self-producer Ivers says, “The recording started as an overview of the Irish immigrant experience from the devastating days of a pre-famine Ireland to the glorious ones of a surviving, thriving Diaspora. It is fascinating to see how Irish music has intertwined with other roots music and has become an essential part of today’s American tradition… During the course of this recording, my personal life’s roads infused the writing experience. The overlying theme of the recording became underpinned with personal anecdotes and much of the record developed into original compositions and original arrangements of traditional songs.”

Recorded both in New York and Dublin, Eileen recruited American and Irish musicians. She plays fiddle on all tracks, overlaying her own banjo and mandolin on several as well. The opener, “Walk On,” features the compelling vocals of bluegrass New Found Road singer Tim Shelton. The lovely ballad, “Farewell My Love And Remember,” features voices of both Shelton and Niamh Parsons. “Crossroads” has the traditional Uilleaan pipes and low whistle. Deidre Brennan’s vocals begin “Linin’ Track” which morphs into a blues stomper as she is joined by the vocals and blues harmonica of Tommy McDonnell. “Green Fields of America” is another traditional ballad sung by Parsons. Tommy McDonnell returns for “Black Bottom,” citing the merging of Irish jig dancing with African-American tap dancing in New Orleans. These tunes are interspersed with instrumentals ranging from traditional Irish, to Cajun, to Acadian to bluegrass. The instrumentation and varying of the material is nicely done throughout. Get your Irish on – St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon.

– Jim Hynes

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