This album of contrasting moods takes its name from one of the world's natural phenomenons the Giant's Causeway in Co. Antrim. It is not just another Irish 'Trad' album, it is more, much much more!! Causeway seamlessly fuses traditional Irish music with Jazz, Blues, Rock and Popular in a very effective and electrifying way.
There are nine sets of original tunes and three songs on the album leading off with the title track 'Causeway' which uses a steady, driving melody as the base from which Casey explores jazz and R&B variations on her fiddle. 'Cabbage and Cale', Arty's tribute to the great J.J. Cale, features the adept harmonica playing of Brendan Power to great effect. One of the special bonuses of this album is that it also features for the first time some superb singing by Nollaig, her rendition of the beautiful lullaby 'Seo Leo 'Thoil' is without comparison. The funky base lines and wild fiddling on 'Jack Palance's Reel' frame Arty's Telecaster playing to great effect.
The change of pace is introduced with the almost orchestral 'Trá an Phéarla' with its lush string arrangements. This is followed by the jazzy invocations of 'Rainy Summer' and Nollaig's haunting rendition of the emigration song 'A Stór mo Croí'. The groove track 'Comanche Moon', which again owes much to the influences of J.J. Cale, brings the mood back up for a bit of Rock 'n' Roll with 'The Trip to Tokyo'.
Nollaig's third song the atmospheric Irish ballad 'Dún na Séad' showcases her colourful, resonant voice. The cinematic 'Murals' creates a hypnotic mixture of Telecaster, fiddle and Harmonica. The album closes with 'Lios Na Banríona', a baroque style piece, which combines Nollaig's expressive fiddle playing with Arty's unique guitar playing in a fitting finish to this highly satisfying album.
Arty and Nollaig have, for this recording, drawn on the immense talents of a number of top musicians and in particular the excellent Brendan Power on Harmonica, James Blennerhasset (bass), Dave Early (drums and percussion) and Rod McVey (keyboards).
"Reflecting the disparate backgrounds of these two
exceptionally able players, Causeway is evenly divided between up-tempo
instrumental pieces with a full rock backing and more conventional, traditionally
arranged tunes and songs.
Guitar player McGlynn's jazz and R&B leanings are reflected in the title track, a rollicking instrumrntal with guitar, fiddle and Hammon organ, laid over a propulsive rockabilly rhythm. 'Cabbage and Cale' is a Neville Brothers-style funky blues with a similar instrumental overlay - plus the addition of Brendan Power's adept harmonica playing to create a thrilling effect. A lazy JJ Cale groove permeates 'Commanche Moon', while 'Jack Palances Reel' sees McGlynn lucking his Telecaster like a demented Nashville picker - on Guinness!
Offering a complete change of pace, 'Seo Leo Tholl' is an enchanting lullaby sung by casey and showcasing her colourful, resonant voice. Likewise with the treatment given to the popular emigration ballad 'A Stor Mo Chroi' and 'Dun Na Sead', a more atmospheric piece with a fuller orchestral effect.
The cinematic 'Rainy Summer' could easily be from a Neil Simon film soundtrack, while the closing track 'Fort of the Fairy Queen' reveals Casey's richly expressive fiddle-playing on an uplifting dynamic and highly satisfying piece. An album of two parts and one that might upset some of the purists (if any still exist), Causeway succeeds in taking a refreshingly loose interpretation of Irish music and blending it with outside, mainly American influences. Very effectively too."
Colm O'Hare - Hotpres
"Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn between them share
40 years playing experience at the cutting edge of what might be termed
modern Irish music. Both are exemplary musicians across a range of genres
which include classical, blues, rock and popular. All come together on
'Causeway', their finest collaboration to date. Both contribute instrumental
compositions, sometimes, not always emanating from the same musical source.
The title track - McGlynn's composition, a reel for our times - sports
a melody played on fiddle chasing a chugging funky engine of fender Telecaster,
drums and Hammond, which resolves into a masterfully constructed wall
of sound. 'Cabbage and Cale', also by McGlynn, is a subtle celebration
of the groove master whose accents are as green as the proverbial. 'Rainy
Summer is borne in on harmonica by Brendan Power, another musical multi-linguist,
sharing riff and counter-riff with fiddle, guitar and Hammond in an elegantly
jazzy invocation. 'Murals' is an hypnotic soundscape of Fender Telecaster,
harmonica and fiddle.
Nollaig Casey's compositions, by contrast, are more weighted towards the melodic, but despite the change in direction the transitions are seamless. 'Tra An Phearla' announced on viola with full-sounding string and guitar arrangement, is a lushly orchestrated piece, while Lios Na Banriona' , for fiddles and guitar brings Baroque and the traditional into sweet harmony.
An unexpected bonus is the inclusion of three songs, the delightful lullaby 'Seo leo Thoil', A Stor Mo Chroi' and 'Dun Na Sead, sung by Nollaig casey."
Nuala O'Connor - The Irish Times
"Causeway is a completely progressive album. While
the songs are dealt with in an orthodox way the tunes are much less traditional.
The driving force for this style seems to come from McGlynn himself who
brings his complete knowledge of jazz and blues to bear on Irish music.
He has always been an imaginative player and the blues/jazz texture of this album has been double-stitched with the help of harmonica player Brendan Power.
McGlynn comes fron the North and Nollaig comes from Cork, but Causeway is not affected by regional style at all, perferring instead a sound that is much broader, contemporary, light and refreshing.
It would not be exactly correct to call this traditional Irish music but it is certainly music that comes out of the tradition of Ireland"
Lloyd Gorman - Irish Music