Dan Milner

Irish in America: A Music Record of the Irish People in the United States, 1780-1980

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The Irish have a very long history in America, that much is beyond dispute. But the songs of that history have rarely been explored, the focus generally having been on the songs of the Irish in Ireland. For that reason alone, this is a valuable collection. But the performances lift it from being just another collection of historical interest. Singer Dan Milner does a superb job throughout, but especially on the moving "Scovill's Rolling Mill" and "The Irish Volunteer." Some of the pieces are fairly well, like "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (which had been covered by the Walkabouts, among many others) or "The Roving Gambler," which has appeared in countless variations, but elsewhere it's a true education, as the sleeve notes give the history and reality behind the pieces, even the instrumental selections like "Tell Her I Am/Richard Brennan's." The horrible conditions in which Irish-Americans dwelled in New York in the late 1800s is detailed in "McNally's Row of Flats" and the perils of marble quarrying are commemorated in "The West Rutland Marble Bawn." One of the most intriguing tracks, however, is "Billy the Kid." One of the legendary American outlaws, he was in fact born in New York, the son of Irish immigrants -- a little-known fact, but one that helps put history in a more human light, as all this album does. Along with Milner's excellent singing, Bob Conroy contributes superb banjo playing, while a supporting cast of players are discreet in their support.

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