Album Review: The Gloaming, 'The Gloaming'

< Back

Monday January 13, 2014


A remarkable debut album from Irish music’s latest supergroup

Musically, lyrically, dramatically, on every count this debut album from The Gloaming is exceptional. Four-fifths of the group – Clare fiddle player Martin Hayes, Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, the Cúil Aodha sean nós singer Iarla Ô Lionaird and Dublin-born hardanger player Caoimhín Ô Raghallaigh – are all well-known figures within traditional Irish music. It’s The Gloaming’s fifth member, New York-based pianist (and album producer) Thomas Bartlett, whose harmonic, rhythmic and textural effects serve to paint this music on a wider, more expansive canvas.

Bringing together a song and six tunes, the epic ‘Opening Set’ lays all the elements bare: Ô Lionaird effortlessly opens up the musical space in ‘Cois an Ghaorthaidh’, before the strings gently lead into a sublime slip jig (‘Catherine Kelly’s’) and jig (‘P. Joe’ s Lullaby’, named after Martin’s father). Then, four reels to bring us home: ‘The Mill Stream’ and ‘Rolling In The Barrel’ – with the shift between tunes from A major to E minor one of many coup de théâtres – followed by ‘The Tap Room’ and ‘Tom Doherty’s’. By the time we reach the final reel the band is in full flight with Cahill’s motoric, dancing guitar chords, Bartlett’s thunderous bass notes and syncopated right-hand commentaries, coupled with the increasingly impassioned repetitions of the tune by Hayes and Ô Raghallaigh. The results are magnificent.

To read the rest of the article and watch a video of The Gloaming click here