Sráid Eoin Shuffle
This solidly traditional album comes from an interesting musician – Aoife Granville is a typically bimusical traditional player, with a long history of involvement in art music in addition to her deep roots within local traditions in Kerry. This is interesting, but not surprising, as it acts as a reminder of how once-simple categorisations such as traditional, popular and classical (or ethnic and imperial for that matter) fail to address the multiplicity of sounds accessed by musicians today, and the fluidity by which they can move between these sounds. Here Granville locates herself within the wider Kerry tradition, and articulates this heritage by drawing on local repertoire, although her palette is not limited to this, and in a varied program she incorporates material from the Scottish and Cape Breton traditions also. Coincidentally, her flute playing is at its strongest and most convincing in the sets which accentuate this regional identity, particularly the earthy and punchy rendition of the slides and the Wren tunes. Even better though is the affective and powerful air, ‘Caoineadh Uí Néill’, which forms the centerpiece of the CD. Granville’s expertise in this facet of the tradition is confirmed by two songs, performed in an understated and wistful manner. The second of these, the beautiful ‘Lios Bhaile Dháith’, reinforces her continuity with the local tradition, as it comes from the singing of her grandmother.
Granville demonstrates further versatility through being a dual-instrumentalist as well as a singer, although I didn’t think her fiddle playing had the same fluency, and it works best where she duets with herself. Although not contributing any self-penned compositions, Granville’s no-nonsense and authoritative playing makes a strong case for the many new tunes here, in particular ‘John Joe Moroney’s Favourite’ and ‘The Slatted House’, although ‘Conal’s’ reel sounds tame after hearing Beoga’s treatment of it – but then what wouldn’t! There’s also good variety in the backing, which never threatens to overpower the melody, and its conventional approach is in keeping with Granville’s straightforward and uncomplicated playing. A CD then which doesn’t stretch the boundaries of the tradition, but at the same time makes for a stimulating and enjoyable listen.