John Doyle is — to my ear — about the best rhythm player in roots music today. Ever since first hearing him as the original guitarist with the Irish super-band Solas, I’ve been taken with the mixture of power and musicianship in his playing.
In recent years, Doyle has been playing in a duo with Fiddler Liz Carroll, and they just released a new CD in March on Compass Records. As promised last week, I’m highlighting several new releases from Compass in the hopes of encouraging others to take a look at this label’s varied offerings from a talented group of artists.
Double Play is the second release from the Carroll/Doyle duo. The CD begins with a medley of two Carroll tunes, The Chandelier and Anne Lacey’s. Liz Carroll is not content to simply play traditional tunes, but she’s quite a composer of new Irish music. The interplay between the major key of The Chandelier and the minor tones of Anne Lacey’s makes for a great pairing.
Doyle’s singing is strong on tunes such as A Pound a Week Rise and makes for a nice change of pace. Carrol and Doyle mix in laments, reels, and jigs and include the mandolin and bouzouki to bring different sounds and tones to the set.
The Carroll composition Nearby, Long Ago is a real treat. This slow, meditative air is a perfect vehicle for her expressive playing backed by Doyle’s sensitive guitar accompaniment.
All 13 tunes are strong, making for an impressive CD. They head off into the sunset with a trio of tunes that Carroll composed: Ruhin’ Dressing/The Quitter/Remove the Rug. As you might expect, the last tune sounds like a fun dance tune.
I have attached a short video of Carroll and Doyle playing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Both the CD and the video are recommended.
More to come…