James Carty


Upon My Soul


Racket Records RR006; 38 minutes; 2006


[James Carty's debut album on flute featuring Alec Finn(Bouzouki), Francis Gaffney (guitar), Joe Kennedy (bodhrán), John P Carty (flute), John Carty(flute and banjo). Includes liner notes by Michael Hynes and Gregory Daly.]

Tracks: 1) Queen's Hornpipe/Down the Meadow (hornpipe/reel); 2) Boys of the Lough/The Devils of Dublin (reels); 3) The Streamstown Jig/The Stolen Purse (jigs); 4) Kitty's Gone a Clinking Coming from the Fair/Pat Ward's (flings); 5) Trip To Birmingham/Darby's Farewell (reels); 6) Siney Crotty's/Piper's Broken Finger (single jig/reel); 7) Sailor's Bonnet/Anderson's (reels); 8) John Towey's/Mulvihill's (barndance/reel); 9) Major Moran's/Peg McGrath's (reels); 10) Bill Harte's/Connie the Soldier (jigs); 11) The Merry Harriers/The Hut in the Bog/Flowers of Red Hill (reels); 12) The Road to Rosroe/Tae in the Bog (jigs); 13) The Caucus/Peter Flanagan's (reels).

The first thing that struck me upon listening to James Carty's very fine first solo album on flute, Upon My Soul, was the wide selection of tunes he has here from many sources (but predominantly North Connaught) thus presenting a wealth of unusual or rarely played tunes. The title of this album is well chosen as Michael Hynes’s sleeve notes indicates: "The Greek word 'Psyche' can mean soul spirit or breath; all vital components for a flute player."

James Carty is, of course, the younger brother of multi-instrumentalist (banjo, fiddle and flute) and At The Racket front-man John Carty. Born and brought up in Whitechapel in London's East End, the brothers' family is from Boyle, Co. Roscommon, and so it is that the music either plays should have a North Connaught accent.

I was also struck by the ease with which he intersperses sets with tunes of differing time signatures; in fact, he makes this a statement of policy right at the beginning of the album, with the catchy Queen's Hornpipe followed by the perfectly matched reel Down the Meadow. He carries this selection of tunes admirably as he has at his disposal the full range of flute delivery techniques, including reviving old style short phrasing.

Carty's shorter phrasing presented here is a studied technique of delivery, so as to clearly punctuate the melodic elements of the tunes, and is reminiscent of players of a bygone generation, such as John McKenna, to whom Carty pays homage. It may be an acquired taste to some listeners, but it must be conceded it is done here tastefully and with clear purpose and intent.

The production on this album is well-balanced, ranging from the single jig then reel set Siney Crotty's/Piper's Broken Finger played solo (as only the unusually paced Piper's Broken Finger, composed by flute player Cathal McConnell, should be!) through to James on flute plus banjo accompaniment by brother John, with Francis Gaffney, guitar, and John Blake, piano, on the reel set Trip to Birmingham/Darby's Farewell.

All in all, we have here an excellently performed and produced album, with a wide ranging subject matter, displaying great depth and vivid colour, so often difficult to achieve on a solo instrument album, particularly the flute, and all the more notable as it is the first of hopefully many to come.

This is an original review by Danny Mackay.


January, 2007.



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