Niall Vallely, Paul Meehan, Caoimhín Vallely
Vertical Records VERTCD071; 46 minutes; 2005
Six years on from his debut album, Beyond Worlds, concertina-player Niall Vallely has finally released its successor, Buílle (which in this context probably means ‘pulse’), in cahoots with his pianist brother Caoimhín, another Armagh man, Paul Meehan, on guitar and bodhrán player Brian Morrissey.
Its ten tracks consist almost entirely of Niall’s own compositions with just two exceptions, Dunmore Lasses and Winnie Hayes’ Jig, and reveal a musician keen to explore his musical territory from the security of a well-established traditional base.
However, unlike the work of Jim McGrath, listening to Buílle produces the very strong residual feeling that few, if any, of Niall’s tunes will ever enter the traditional canon. This is because, in part, it is hard to imagine anyone else playing them, such is the density of Niall’s numerous twists and turns, ornamentation and overall musical colouring.
Nevertheless, there’s plenty here to admire and enough fitting mood changes (such as incorporated in the gorgeous Farewell to Mc Carthy’s) to maintain sufficient interest throughout the album.
If there has to be a criticism, then it should be that Donald Shaw’s production is sometimes too cold and doesn’t do justice to the intrinsic warmth of Niall’s playing.
19th November, 2005
The album is available from www.verticalrecords.co.uk.