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The Long Grazing Acre
Artist: Paddy Keenan & Tommy O’Sullivan
Label: Compass Records
Length: 14 tracks / 59:37

The Long Grazing Acre is a perfectly crafted and packaged concept.  Paddy Keenan achieves phenomenal tone with his uilleann pipes and whistles and, together with guitarist Tommy O’Sullivan and engineer Pearse Dunne, blends this tone with O’Sullivan’s thick, rich strings and the other elements for an excellent production.  Also noteworthy in this album is liner-note commentary, a look at the inspiration behind the writing of each portion.

Of “Eimhin’s,” the first tune on track two, Keenan writes, “This piece came about in a small town in Maine USA called Bethel back in 1998, when my mind once again wandered back to Ireland and my children…. Jay [Hardy] would sit for hours listening to me and working on getting me the best sounds so that I could find and record the piece.  Then we would go out on the deck and stare across the moonlit starry-covered mountains of Maine, listening.”

This album is a well-balanced blend of reels and jigs (i.e. upbeat, danceable instrumentals), tunes (mournful instrumentals, usually giving the spotlight to Keenan’s whistles) and folk songs featuring O’Sullivan’s vocals and acoustic guitar.

I am especially partial to the instrumental work on this album, but “Stranger to Himself” (originally written by Sandy Denny) is a catchy song worthy of special mention.  O’Sullivan sings:

You can run for cover, run for cover like a frightened hare
Til it’s all over now, all over and there’s no one there
Cause you daren’t discover, daren’t discover that we really care.
Between its lyrics, the thoughts on the album’s inspiration and the quality production and tones, The Long Grazing Acre beats with the heart of Irish music.

Dan Singleton  4/20/03


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