David Granville reviews Béal Tuinne (Tara TARACD 4022)
THIS MAGNIFICENT collection of Irish songs brings together the prodigious talents of traditional west Kerry musicians Béal Tuinne (Mouth of the Wave) and those of composer Shaun Davey and singer Rita Connolly.
Based on the poems of Kerryman Caoimhín Ó Cinnéide (Kevin Kennedy), the songs tell of life in Baile an Mhuraigh (Parish of Moor), a small gaeltacht village in the Ballydavid area, west of Dingle, Co. Kerry.
Shipwrecks and rescues, fishing tales, heroic deeds in times of famine, the lament of the exile and the anguish caused by separation and political conflict are all here alongside the gentle humour and the enjoyment of everyday life of a small community dominated by the sea.
An accompanying booklet includes the lyrics in Irish and a summary of each song in English. English translations of the songs, along with further information about the album, can be found at www.bealtuinne.com
As Davey explains in the album's sleeve notes, the village "lies between the wild grandeur of Mount Brandon and the booming Atlantic over the brow of the hill. It is a place where music and community go together, music serving as a collective bond, and where the distinction is blurred between amateur and professional musician,"
Recorded live in St James's Church, Dingle, in the presence of the poet's family and the community of Baile an Mhuraigh, for whom and about" the poems were originally written, the album reflects both the intimacy of the subject and the setting.
On these performances, local musicians Séamus Begley (vocals/button accordion),Éilís Kennedy (vocals/whistle/flute), Dáithí Ó Sé (vocals), Lawrence Courtney (vocals/banjo), Eoin Ó Beaglaoí, (concertina/button accordion) and Jim Murray (guitar) are joined by Shaun Davey (pedal harmonium/string synthesises/harmony vocals) and Rita Connolly (vocals/guitar).
Beautiful melodies and delightful harmonies are to be found in abundance, while the contrasting vocal styles of the three singers and Davey's original compositions successfully deliver shades of light and dark.
A brilliant and inspired project uniting poetry with original composition, strong vocals, heavenly harmonies and inspired musicianship. The result is both enchanting and evocative, to the point that the listener can almost feel the pleasure and the pain of the villagers and taste the salt in the sea air. Pure simplicity, pure genius.
Available from Copperplate Distribution and specialist stockists
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2008 Connolly Publications Ltd