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Two Journeys
     

Two Journeys

4.0 2
by Tim O'Brien
 

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Stringed instrument virtuoso Tim O'Brien continues his exploration of Celtic music traditions in America with Two Journeys, a follow-up to The Crossing, the acclaimed outset of his journey. Blending powerful original songs with carefully chosen traditional fare, O'Brien surveys the passions, the hopes, the dreams, and the folkways of a people as if he

Overview

Stringed instrument virtuoso Tim O'Brien continues his exploration of Celtic music traditions in America with Two Journeys, a follow-up to The Crossing, the acclaimed outset of his journey. Blending powerful original songs with carefully chosen traditional fare, O'Brien surveys the passions, the hopes, the dreams, and the folkways of a people as if he had been traveling through time to bear witness to all the triumph and tragedy the years have wrought. With a stellar supporting cast of American and Irish musicians pitching in -- Paul Brady, Darrell Scott, Maura O'Connell, and Karan Casey -- O'Brien stirs the soul and moves the heart with these powerful, often heartbreaking stories. "Mick Ryan's Lament" is essentially the last will and testament of a 7th Cavalry soldier riding to his doom at the Little Bighorn as the poignant Irish marching theme "Garryowen" (Custer's favorite) plays in the background. Accompanying himself on bouzouki and fiddle, and harmonizing evocatively with Karan Casey (a dead ringer vocally for the young Marianne Faithfull), O'Brien conjures an unsettling ambience as he deepens the mystery of the "Demon Lover," a song dating back to 1657. "Me and Dirk's Trip to Ireland" serves as a respite to the serious texts preceding it, being a good-time workout of fiddle, accordion, and banjo bolstering a spirited O'Brien vocal. Step-dancers need be ready for the sprightly instrumental "The Lancer's Jig/Gusty's Frolicks," with O'Brien's angular soloing on mandolin ably answered by Niall Vallely on concertina and John Williams on piano. The surprise ending to this trip is a haunting version of Lennon and McCartney's "Norwegian Wood," with whistle, fiddle, and pipes replacing George Harrison's sitar. It brings O'Brien to the shores of Liverpool, that most Irish of English cities, and sets the stage for the next chapter. So far the trip's been exhilarating.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Itinerant American folk musician Tim O'Brien has been on a tear since 1996's Red on Blonde, bluegrass interpretations of Bob Dylan songs (and don't laugh, it stands as one of the very finest Dylan tributes ever recorded). Since that time he has issued collaborations with Dirk Powell and John Hermann (Songs From the Mountain -- inspired by the novel Cold Mountain) and Darrell Scott (Real Time), as well as issuing the original inspiration for this recording, The Crossing in 1999, which offered a rootsy musician's ear-view of how Irish music informed the folk traditions of the American South and found a home in a mutated yet no less soulful form. Two Journeys is The Crossing's mirror image. This album shows O'Brien -- and a company of the British Isles and American South's finest musicians -- looking toward the coastlines of Ireland to express those traditions as they prepared to leave the homeland for the "new world." Digging deep into his own bag of folk songs, traditional ballads, and a few slick bluegrass moves, O'Brien has managed to tell a story, mostly with his own songs, of the cultural miscegenation that took place in the vast Irish exodus during and after the potato famine. From the opening track, "Turning Around," we hear the song of a captain in the middle of the Atlantic, looking back on the homeland with a sense of loss, regret, and heartbreak, and toward the new with a shred of hope, fear, and trepidation. This leads into the glorious swagger of "Mick Ryan's Lament" by Robert Lee Dunlap. The tune extrapolates "Garryowen," George Custer's marching song that was likely his final one at Little Big Horn. And then we're off, deep into the middle ground of a sea rife for the picking with fiddle tunes, jigs, reels, bluegrass, folk-blues and Celtic soul. With help from the aforementioned Yankees, and Paddy Keenan on uilleann pipes, traditional percussionist Kevin Burke, keyboard work from Triona No Drohmnaill, and the vocal support of Karan Casey and Maura O'Connell, O'Brien doesn't merely create facsimiles of Irish songs, but showcases the log, knotty rope between traditions, being not part one or the other but fully both. The most moving track on the disc, and also its most spooky, is "Demon Lover," a duet between O'Brien and Casey. It's a ballad so old it nearly dates antiquity, the rendering here, which doesn't even resemble modern versions, is chock full of pathos, lust, and regret. This may very well be his finest outing.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/09/2002
Label:
Sugarhill
UPC:
0015891395425
catalogNumber:
3954
Rank:
18116

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tim O'Brien   Primary Artist,Bouzouki,Fiddle,Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals,Mandola
Kevin Burke   Fiddle
Paul Brady   Vocal Harmony
Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill   Keyboards
Paddy Keenan   Pipe
Karan Casey   Vocals
Steve Cooney   Guitar
Dennis Crouch   Bass
Kenny Malone   Drums,Tambourine,Djembe
Maura O'Connell   Vocal Harmony
Dirk Powell   Banjo,Guitar,Accordion,Triangle,fender rhodes
Darrell Scott   Banjo,Guitar,Vocal Harmony,Guitar (Baritone)
Jeff White   Vocal Harmony
John Williams   Flute,Piano,Accordion,Low Whistle
Michael McGoldrick   Flute,Penny Whistle,Low Whistle
Niall Vallely   Concertina
Courtney Granger   Vocals
Laoise Kelly   Harp
John "Buddy" Williams   Flute,Piano,Accordion,Low Whistle

Technical Credits

Randy Best   Engineer
Steve Cooney   Engineer
Tim O'Brien   Arranger,Producer
King Williams   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Two Journeys 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Tim O’Brien is a low-key, charming performer of acoustic folk and bluegrass music with interests from country to Western swing. He used to front the 80s bluegrass group Hot Rize. I don’t think this CD matches O’Brien’s earlier The Crossing. However, it is a fine companion to that project. If you are a fan of The Chieftains, I think you will enjoy both CDs. Bluegrass fans should check out Hot Rize’s So Long Of A Journey live album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tim O'Brien has a mind-boggling range of musical styles, and this one is another aspect of his outreach. This, plus the companion piece ''The Crossing'' (1999) chronicles his exploration into his Irish ancestry. It is full of clarity and variety. Mick Ryan's Lament is outstanding, and close to the most perfect anti-war song I've ever heard. Great instrumentals in here, too. Lots of Tim-style lyrics placed over traditional melodies. I do hope there is more O'Music to come!