Duck Baker, Maggie Boyle, Ben Paley


The Expatriate Game


Day Job Records DCD 106; 57 minutes; 2005


Now here is an intriguing collaboration. The Expatriate Game, a play on the title of Dominic Behan’s renowned song The Patriot Game, does indeed feature one ex-pat, the London-based US-born finger-style guitarist Duck Baker, who is here in cahoots with Londoners Maggie Boyle (of Donegal stock) and Ben Paley (whose father Tom formed The New Lost City Ramblers with Mike Seeger and John Cohen).


Therefore, unsurprisingly, the album carries the subtitle of ‘Traditional Irish & American Music’ and sees singer and flute player Boyle (well-known to many through her work as a duo with Steve Tilston, John Renbourn and many others), fiddler Paley (whose track record includes playing with The Levellers and Blur/Gorillaz honcho Damon Albarn) and Baker (whose CV includes collaborations with Michael Mantler/Carla Bley associate, trombonist Roswell Rudd, and Appalachian singer Molly Andrews).


The material here is predominantly Irish, though some tunes have reached the trio via a roundabout route and others are popular in both the Irish and US folk traditions. Maggie’s song choice encompasses several very familiar ditties, including Kitty Lie Over and Bonny Portmore, though, as ever, she reinvigorates her material in typically refreshing style. Duck’s only song, Rye Whisky, a natural choice considering its first line (‘If the river was whisky and I was a duck’ – though note that this is the folk and not blues version made famous by the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson) is delivered with affectionate irreverence.


He also proves himself to be an expressive picker on an evocative rendition of Seán O’Dwyer of the Glen while Ben’s fiddle comes to the fore on Temperance Reel and provides spirited interplay with Maggie’s flute on Over the Waterfall.


Overall, the album’s very relaxed feel supplements enhances the enjoyment factor and offers the very real sense that these three musicians not only understand their music but know how to convey their grasp of the traditions to a wider audience.


Geoff Wallis


15h June, 2005



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