Since coming together in 2006 SAOIRSE have firmly established themselves as one of Australia’s leading Celtic/Folk bands.
SAOIRSE have appeared at many Festivals and events across Australia and actively engaged with the Irish community helping with fundraising and support.
They have had many highlights so far in their musical journey. In 2014 they received The Australian Celtic Music Awards for both album and song of the year.
2019 is shaping up to be another busy year with Festival lined up and new CD, Encore, just released!
With soaring harmonies, beautiful ballads sung in English and Irish including original material, jigs and reels and even the odd step dance. A SAOIRSE performance will engage and delight your inner Celt!
- Anthony O’Neill. Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin,Vocals
- Bernadette O’Neill. Bodhran , Vocals and feisty feet!
- Kerry Mc Manus. Accordion, Whistle, Vocals and feisty feet!
- Sile Coleman. Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Saoirse – Encore
CD review by Tony Smith
TN2428-78 – $25 TN154 Feb 23
This renowned Melbourne based Celtic Australian quartet combines original songs and traditional tunes in their latest album of twelve diverse tracks.
The CD sleeve lists the members of Saoirse but you will need to visit their website to discover which instruments they play.
The versatile musicians are Anthony O’Neill (guitar, fiddle, vocals), Bernadette O’Neill (vocals, bodhran, mandolin), Kerry McManus (vocals, accordion, whistle) and Sile Neil (vocals, guitar, mandolin).
Thanks are expressed to Stephen O’Prey, William Hutton, Declan O’Neill, George Butrumlis, Robyn Payne and Damien Neil for musical contributions.
Payne also worked ‘mixing mastering magic’.
The album has an appropriate opening with ‘Cunla’ (traditional) which brings out a sound quite like the Irish band Altan.
‘Mother’s Song’ by Sile Neil begins with a drum and settles into some very fine harmonies reminiscent of the Wailing Jennies.
These two comparisons by the way should not be taken to imply that Saoirse’s work is derivative but only that they fit into exalted company indeed.
‘Black Night’ (Bernadette O’Neill) and ‘Leaving the Land’ (Eric Bogle) both feature keyboards and depart slightly from the traditional Celtic sound.
There is an immediate return to this style however, in the busy instrumental set ‘Jimmy Duffys/ The Sailor’s Bonnet and The Star of Munster’ (traditional).
Bernadette O’Neill’s familiarity with the Celtic medium is in evidence in ‘The Mermaid (An Mhaighdean Mhara)’.
Richard Thompsons’ ‘The Dimming of the Day’ makes a good pairing with the Bogle track, continuing the theme of endings.
In ‘O’Reilly’s Lament’ Bernadette O’Neill shows that she gives nothing away in songwriting skills to Bogle or Thompson.
The appeal to Irish men and women to ‘walk with me’ and march for justice has perhaps the best lyrics of any track on the album.
‘Will you walk a hundred miles with me, a hundred miles and more/ for I am going south to stand beside the Braithreachus na hEireann (Brotherhood of Ireland)/ Irish men and Irish women walk together proud and strong/ for the freedom of our children is enough to lead us on’.
There have been so many centuries of struggle.
Sile Neil in ‘Smoke is Rising’ and the final track ‘Please Don’t … Take 2’, develops something of a country feel: ‘Please don’t make me marry you/ It’d be a thing we’d surely rue/ Don’t make me wear a smile or drag me up that aisle/ please don’t make me say I do’.
‘Mouth Music’ has few whole words – ‘Ho ro haradala’ and sounds a little like a Saoirse workshop in Celtic chanting.
Irish fiddle player Zoe Conway’s ‘Anachain Tuireann’ and the ‘Woodford Whistler’ (traditional) bring out some excellent instrument playing, fiddle and accordion in particular.
“Encore” is Saoirse’s fourth album after a busy period with gigs, travel, marriage and a baby.
Now they invite listeners to join them on ‘the music road’ and few fans of Saoirse’s exuberant style will regret taking up the invitation.