Kids Songs Made in Ireland
Victor Johnson is based in the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon, far away from the Emerald Isle. Happily, Kids Songs Made in Ireland reflects both his travels and his music-focused tours of Ireland. These fourteen fine renditions of traditional Irish, Scottish, English and American folk tunes – and one original witty explanation of the origin of unicorn stories in “The Narwhal Song.” Johnson recorded the album in Ireland with a host of excellent traditional players, yet he manages to also retain a distinctively American take on the music. The album begins with the upbeat “Soldier’s Joy” and a John Prine-like rendition of “The Fox.” Johnson gives some very clear explanations of the different rhythms found in traditional jigs, hornpipes and reels, by using words to count out the beats. So that, the way to learn a jig is to repeat the phrase “rashers and sausages” to get the 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3 rhythm. He then goes on to play the “Mist Covered Mountains” for a jig, and “Maude Miller’s” and the “Sailor’s Hornpipe” as fine examples of reels and hornpipes. There are spirited renditions of the old Chieftains standby “(I’ll) Tell Me Ma,” as well as “Aiken Drum,” and a finely finger picked version of “Rattlin Bog.” Niamh Varian-Barry duets with Johnson on the plaintive “Molly Malone,” and he even manages to breathe new life into the old chestnut “Danny Boy.” The album closes with a gorgeous rendition of “This Light of Mine,” featuring Ellis Kennedy’s lovely duet vocals, Irish translation, and fiddle. This last tune is a real band showcase with Tom Delany’s elegant Uilleann pipes laying down a beautiful melody. Johnson’s masterful finger-style guitar playing, and smooth alto voice adds both a richness and warmth to all the songs.
Lahri Bond ©2019 Parents’ Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.