CD Review: Liz Carroll and John Doyle – Double Play

CD Review: Liz Carroll and John Doyle – Double Play

Double Play / Compass Records 7 4502 2

Double Play
Compass Records 7 4502 2  

First appearing together on the 2000 album Lost in the Loop, this is the second CD which features the pairing presented as a duet, acknowledging the importance of Doyle’s contribution to the recording’s sound world. The CD’s title, Double Play, is ripe with meaning, alluding to the (by now) standard intermingling of traditional and newly-composed material, the presence of two compositional voices (both Carroll and Doyle contribute much material), and of course the close interplay between the two instruments. The CD’s first track demonstrates yet another layer to this, opening as it does with the familiar and widely-spread ‘The Chandelier’, which has been recorded several times over the past few years (Angelina Carberry’s tremendous version comes to mind here). Placing the contrasting ‘Anne Lacey’s’ after this is a masterstroke, as the change of key, change of style and mood, and change in relationship between the instruments is emphasised to electrifying effect. Here there’s notably tight interaction between the two instruments, where Carroll’s funky riffing on the tune is carefully matched by Doyle’s multilayered guitar. This interaction continues on Doyle’s composition ‘Before the Storm’, where they play with the traditional roles of these instruments: here the guitar takes the lead at first, backed by fiddle drones, which develop in complexity until the two instruments unite for the tune’s climax. There are interesting harmonies from both players later in this tune, before Carroll puts her own stamp on the following ‘The Black Rogue’, supported by some intriguing chording on the guitar.

It’s stimulating to hear Carroll’s treatment of some of her other older tunes which have already been in circulation, and the familiarity of ‘Ricky’s White Face’ puzzled me for a while, until I connected it with the version on Mick Moloney’s Strings Attached album. On the whole Doyle’s tunes seem particularly challenging in their angularity, full of unexpected turns and demanding shapes, and Carroll gets to display her remarkable agility and drive on the knotty ‘On the Lam’. This comes in the midst of a blistering set of reels, including tunes of real substance by Paddy Glackin and Tom Fleming. The ‘Castle Kelly’ reel set is another standout, in part harking back to Patrick Kelly’s ‘Foxhunter’s’ tuning, the sonorous droning of the Raineys, and Carroll’s own earlier experiments on A Friend Indeed. The songs are enjoyable and sincere, and round off a satisfying set from this fine duo, at their best when the effervescent double play of the instruments sets the music off in full flight.

Published on 1 June 2009

Adrian Scahill is a lecturer in traditional music at Maynooth University.

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