Eamonn Coyne

Honk Toot Suite

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

On this utterly charming album Eamonn Coyne and Kris Drever trade off on several instruments, though Drever focuses primarily on six-string guitar and Coyne on plectrum banjo; at various times, though, Coyne switches to mandolin or tenor guitar while Drever contributes double bass. There are some very fine guest musicians on the album as well, but the unusual duo format of banjo and guitar is really the core of the program. Coyne has a very winning style, skillful but not at all ostentatious, with a tasteful minimum of ornamentation and a primary focus on the tunes themselves. And the tunes are drawn from a lovely mixture of traditional Irish, Breton, Scottish and music hall sources, sometimes mixed all together in a single set -- such as the gorgeous "Peninsula Set," which features the Scots reel "Ger the Rigger" followed by the Breton tune "An Dró" and a modern Irish composition by Simon Bradley titled "Peninsula Man." Not only is the playing of the highest quality, but Kris Drever's singing is also very attractive -- although he sings in a clear tenor voice, he avoids the thin, nasal sound favored by so many of his compatriots, and instead delivers such fine songs as "Viking's Bride" and the mournful "Walking in the Dew" in a plain and non-dramatic voice that keeps the focus on the songs rather than on his own soulfulness. The result is an unusually enjoyable and satisfying album of modern traditional Irish music. Highly recommended.

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