CELTIC MIST Hard times 'come again no more'

Hard times 'come again no more'

By Angela Macari-O'Looney

This is the latest collection from the renowned and hugely successful trad/ballad/Bluegrass quintet...
Launched in June 2008 it is a nice combination of well known favourites such as 'Danny Boy' and newer songs with a more refreshing and interesting lilt, such as 'Shannonside' and 'The Ferryman' by Pete St. John, along with some lively jigs and reels.
Performing on this recording are Shay Eustace, lead vocals and guitar, Margaret Eustace, vocals harmony and bodhran, Derek Walsh Guitar and Vocals and Brian Kilcawley on Banjo, mandolin and accordion. Special guests include John Kelly Chromatic Accordion, Aidan Duffy fiddle, Bob Shortt guitar and vocals and James Blennerhassett on bass.
All of the above artists have each carved their own initials on the massive tree of Irish success stories. Described as spectacularly talented songsters and multi musicians whose musical magic branches right across the world, from the U.S.A. to Africa and every English speaking country in between, the members of Celtic mist built in number from a duo to the band as it stands today.
Shay himself was a member of a band I well remember from the '80s 'The Fair Isle folk'! I worked as a waitress in 'The Lower Deck' on Portobello harbour in the Summer holidays as a youngster and loved their music and only realised why I knew that voice, after reading the sleeve of a previous album.
Margaret, his wife is a performer of opera aswell as Folk and ballads and has a musical pedigree which includes appearing at the first anniversary of 911 at point zero in New York, guest starring with Daniel O'Donnell in Tenerife at a concert and the list goes on.
The remainder of the musicians have all been performing across the globe. Aidan is an accomplished fiddle player and has travelled around Europe performing at Fleadhs and Festivals. Derek and Brian grew up in the same neighbourhood and have both been singing in ballad sessions around Dublin for many years.
You could very well describe Celtic Mist's music as touristy and more attractive to the Ex pats who every so often like to reminisce about the Emerald Isle, but they also have an appeal to anyone who enjoys a well performed ballad or a cheerful jig – like me!

Hard times – Starting with a sweetly played fiddled and softly played guitar, this lovely piece is sung by Margaret. It has an extremely appealing melody. Harmony fills it out as it progresses and mandolin adds a beautiful touch of magic. Being the theme song of the album, it is a pleasant start to this journey.
Written by Patsy Halloran and added to by Christy Moore, 'Galtee Mountain boy' has a nice melody, but is not my favourite song. I find it a bit too dreary or something. However, the atmosphere picks up on the next track which is two jigs – The mist covered mountain and Tobin's fancy!
This can only be enjoyed to the full if you get up on your feet and dance a few steps or if you've two left feet just stomp and clap!
Shannonside – Each time I stick this c.d on I go straight to this song. I can't get enough of it, with its beautifully sung melody and moving lyrics. It was written by Finbar Fury and Derek Walsh does it justice. Harmony is sung by Margaret and the chorus is just delightful. Sean Butler's accordion and Brian's wonderful banjo add the finishing touches to make this song such a pleasure to hear.
My second favourite song on this album is one I just love singing along to; 'The Ferryman'. The melody is memorable; the lyrics are romantic and easy to pick up. Fiddle frames the whole song with nice slides and the banjo doing the intro is perfect and all through the song it can be heard lacing this fine, cheerful piece. It's sung by Derek once again and I just adore the way he finishes it with the humorous refrain 'If you ever loved me Molly love me now', stretching the 'now' and giving it that little extra push to finalise it.
As with the jigs, the two reels –The Sally Gardens and The Sligo Maid are both my favourite melodies for dancing to when I feel a need to go back to my Irish dancing, on occasions when I've either drank too much on Paddy's day, or just fancy checking out whether I'm fit enough to finish this quite fast moving dance. Oh for the days when I was but a girl and won the odd medal for my skilful performance of same!
Anyway this track stars the fiddle and guitar and is a nice rendition of these popular Irish tunes.
Track 12 is 'The deep Sea' which is a sweet melody with sad lyrics. Sung by Margaret who is later joined by the rest of the band who sing in unison, it is an old American folk song. Accordion lends to the scene and the mandolin once again provides intricate little notes throughout. The melody is lovely but is repeated over and over and is a little grating after a while. But the story is very touching and the song is handled delicately by Margaret.
'Glencoe' I find very sad. It has a gorgeous melody but I just find this type of ballad almost too sad. However it is based on a true story of brutality and treachery from Scotland at the end of the 17th century. It's sung by Margaret with reverence and all instruments take part.
The mandolin once again is outstanding as is the accordion.
Bob Shortt who is an Irish/Canadian singer and songwriter performs 'Ireland, my Ireland' along with Margaret on track number 6. I love this number which has a sweet and appealing melody with fabulously close harmony in the chorus. This man's voice reminds me of Val Doonican. The rhythm is just so pleasant and has such wonderful melancholy words.
'The maid of Fife' – This is a fun and enjoyable number sung by the bold Shay Eustace himself and all instruments take part. All take part in the chorus too which you will be singing yourself by the time the second chorus arrives. Yep! A drinking song for definite!
I left 'Danny boy' till last because Margaret Eustace's version of this song is probably one of the most excellent I've ever heard. Beginning with a lovely verse which is never usually sung, it dramatically goes to the beautiful and mournful chorus. Only when a velvety smooth voice like Margaret's presents this haunting air, which is actually 'The Derry Air' can it be appreciated as I imagine the composers intended. The third verse like the introduction would be new to most. But I found that when I heard it, it fitted beautifully. If you aren't either crying into your pint or singing this song along with Celtic Mist, you would have to be made out of stone!
In fact if you are not moved by almost all of the melodies and superbly performed Irish greats on this album, you can't be Irish. It's said that this band are one of the best Irish folk and ballad acts around. If you take the journey through this memorable c.d with them you'll understand why.


Review written by: By Angela Macari-O'Looney --

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