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Close to Home
Artist: Donal Clancy
Label: Compass Records
Length: 12 tracks/40:36
 
Donal  Clancy grew up surrounded by music. His father was a member of the famed Clancy Brothers band. Liam showed his young son a few chords on the guitar and Donal was hooked. After stints in Danu, the Eileen Ivers Band and  the acclaimed group Solas, Clancy decided to record a disc of solo acoustic guitar. It might be hard to imagine a lone guitar in place of the usual groups full of instruments that are the norm in Celtic music. But Clancy quickly proves that he is up to the task.
 
He fills the disc with his arrangements of tunes that go deep into traditional Irish folklore. He opens with a pair of reels, "Tommy Coen's Memories/Callaghan," that features some spirited playing from Donal. When he tackles a set of jigs on "Ask My Father/Helvic Head," his picking creates a driving rhythm while deftly playing  the melodies with notes that ring clean and true. He would have no problem filling the floor if he played at a dance.
 
"Sean O Duibhir A Ghleanna/Bill Malley" couples a slow air tune with barndance that originally was played on the fiddle. Clancy reworks the piece at a slower tempo that perfectly matches the air. He varies his attack on the guitar, combining gentle picking with robust runs that  grab your attention .  Clancy transforms the arrangement on another song, "Lord Inchiquin," from the harp to guitar piece that unfolds at a waltz-like pace, with Clancy easily handling the intricate lines in the melody.  When he returns to the jig on "Monahan Jig/Old Hag You Have Killed Me," Clancy's fingers flow up and down the fretboard to create an insistent rhythm in support of  expertly played  melodies.
 
The liner notes state that Donal also plays Bouzouki and the Bodhran on this recording.  There are moments where it sounds like there is more than one instrument at work. That in no way takes away from the marvelous collection that Clancy has created. Close to Home establishes that Donal is one of the finest acoustic guitar players you will ever hear. His work is brimming with elegance and energy that captures the spirit of Irish music through his mastery of a single instrument. His artistry deserves a listen, especially from those who love outstanding guitar work. He will leave tunes dancing around your consciousness long after the disc is done playing.  Highly recommended !!!!
 
Mark Thompson  12/29/2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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