Barleyshakes, The – Pearls and Emeralds


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CD REVIEW –  by Chris Spencer
The Barleyshakes’ new album “Pearls and Emeralds”

The Barleyshakes, whom I have not had the pleasure seeing live, tread that familiar pattern of interspersing traditional folk tunes with original contemporary ballads.

Their web site relates that members of the band originally formed the band in Ireland, and over the past few years, a couple of the members have migrated to Australia, recruited new members and continue to perform on the Queensland coast and regularly at folk festivals.
On this album five instrumental medleys are alternated with Alan Kelly’s originals.

Featuring the fiddle and flute playing of Belinda Ford and Kristen Kelly, the band joins up three different reels and jigs in each ‘bracket’, such as in the triplet in “Rory’s Reels”: the tunes are “Humours of Westport”, “Men of Destiny” and “Paddy Ryan’s Dream”.

Ironically the only song (with lyrics) that Alan did not write, “Jack of All Trades”, heads off the album, features both fiddles soloing, at the same time in one part and vocal harmonies.
The song I enjoyed best, “Song for a Girl”, is hidden at the end of the album.

Showing a bit of a penchant for experimenting, on a couple of the instrumental songs, voices are added as another instrument, some similar to Tibetan monks chanting, (“Rose Tinted Jigs”) for instance.
Another song is sung in French, “Je Voudrai” – the lyrics are provided for this track – in French – without a translation!

Unfortunately my school French isn’t strong enough to translate for you.
Another song I particularly related to was “What are You Thinking”?
My wife often asks me this question, and it’s not always a good idea to answer the truth.  (At least early on in one’s marriage!)

At first listen, one could be mistaken for misinterpreting the lyrics of this song which reflect my reluctance to answer the question, but in the song Alan, works out the right answer in the last verse: I’m thinking of how much I love you.

Wish I had thought of that response more often!

Guest musicians include Alan Doherty on whistle, Steve Cook on mandolin, bouzouki & banjo and Rebecca Wright on Cello.
I suspect, The Barleyshakes, are better to be experienced live: on this cd, their talent and musicality doesn’t shine through.

CD REVIEW -by Paul Fogarty .

The Barleyshakes’ new album “Pearls and Emeralds”

Any good album should offer not just great songs, great music, pacing, clarity, vision, and believability. It should also paint a picture, song by song, of some slightly different perspective on the world. It should, in short, allow you to stand in someone else`s shoes for an hour and then it should hang around in the air for a few more hours while you float along in the memory of it. Irish contemporary-trad band the Barleyshakes fit the bill on every count with their brand new independent offering “Pearls and Emeralds”.

Alan Kelly`s great strength as a songwriter is his ability make you forget about yourself for a while. His songs never fail to draw you suddenly and smoothly into the world described so intimately and lovingly in his songs. His great strength as a singer is his ability to make you believe every word is true and happening right now.

As ever, the songs are supported and accompanied by the considerable talents of the Barleyshakes and their guest musicians, weaving amazing tapestries between violin, flute, low whistle, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and cello.

The accompaniment is gorgeous, always sympathetic, always moving and dancing in the background of the words of the songs, like a troop of angels gently but urgently reminding us to listen to the story, to step outside of our own shoes for a while.

And if all this isn`t enough there is of course the utter miracle of Alan Doherty`s whistle playing. Seemingly born playing the thing, he manages every time to make you understand that music is a tender and loving conversation between two souls.

Major labels take note: people will pay for music that really touches them, moves them, down deep inside

Additional information

Weight .190 kg
Dimensions 21 × 15 × 1.5 cm


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