Liam O'Flynn

The Given Note

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It's no surprise that former Planxty member Liam O'Flynn is quite adventurous on this solo album -- after all, Planxty offered their own brand of adventure in making traditional Irish music relevant for a new generation in the '70s. A master uillean pipe and whistle player, O'Flynn's magic is apparent right from the first notes of "O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick," which daringly also includes some growling bass and didgeridu. But it's not all instrumental -- singer Andy Irvine performs beautifully on "Come With Me Over the Mountain," (and also on the jig "A Smile in the Dark," which he composed, and where he contributes mandolin). The album covers the Celtic spectrum -- there's a Scottish piece from Phil Cunningham ("Farewell to Gavan"), which, while tasteful, veers perilously close to Clannad-style new age Celtic, and even a taste of Galicia on "Foliada De Elviña." But it's obvious that the Irish selections lie closest to O'Flynn's heart, especially "The Green Island/Spellan the Fiddler," which he learned from his parents. Equally adept on both his instruments, O'Flynn is a virtuoso who can dazzle on the whistle with "The Rambler/The Aherlow Jig" and move with some wonderfully lyrical phrasing on the slow air "The Girl of Brown Hair." Call this an object lesson in the way this music should be played in the 1990s.

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