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Donal Clancy
Close To Home

Review By Steven Stone
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  What would the folk craze of the early 60's have been without the Clancy Brothers, who made some of the most authentic Celtic music available at the time? Fifty years later Donal Clancy, son of Clancy Brother Liam, continues the family tradition. On his first solo album, Close To Home, Donal demonstrates that contemporary Celtic music is as vibrant a musical genre as you will find on God's green earth.

Donal was always surrounded by traditional Irish music. "These are songs I grew up with, songs I can't truly remember learning." All twelve cuts on Close To Home come from the treasure trove of reels, hornpipes, jigs, and mazurkas that form the backbone of the Irish musical heritage. But instead of sounding like moldy old figs longing for the compost heap, every tune has the vibrancy of a freshly penned melody. Much of the music's excitement comes from Donal's performance. This guy is one heck of a flatpicker, whose technique and tone rivals anyone who's ever held a guitar. From the very first tune, "Tommy Coen's Memories," I couldn't help but marvel at his skill. How can anyone play a guitar so fast and cleanly while doing complicated Irish rhythms? Donal Clancy makes it sound effortless. On "Lord Inchiquin" which was originally composed for the harp, Clancy demonstrates he's equally adept at fingerstyle playing. Close To Home truly is a solo album. Most cuts have just one guitar part. No overdubbing, no multi-tracking, just one pair of hands and one instrument. But if you are a player of Donal Clancy's caliber, that's enough.

Recorded by Will Russell at Electric Wilberland Studios in Newfield, NY, mixed by Erick Jaskowiak at the Compass Sound Studio in Nashville, TN, and mastered by Randy Leroy at Final Stage Mastering in Nashville, TN., this disk puts Donal Clancy's guitar square in the middle of your living room. Recording a solo guitar isn't easy. When done badly a guitar can sound like it's the size of a piano, or as if it's several blocks away. On Close To Home the guitar is well proportioned with just the right balance of direct and reflected sound to create a realistic image of a guitar being played in a good-sounding room. Some cuts have the very faintest amounts of background noise, but this only adds to the reality of the recording.

Some CD's are addictive, like a gallon carton of Rocky Road ice cream that is supposed to last two weeks and vanishes by the end of the weekend. If you enjoy well-played solo acoustic guitar I think you will find it hard to listen to this CD only once a day. Close To Home will keep drawing you in for a second and third helping.

 

 

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