Triona Ni Dhomhnaill
Originally released in 1972, Triona came out just before Triona Ni Dhomhnaill joined the now-legendary Bothy Band. Although she has spent the last 16 years playing (but usually not singing) with the jazz/classical/Irish folk fusion group Nightnoise, Triona has never lost track of her roots as a folksinger, which are proudly displayed here.
Because this recording dates to the early days of the Folk Revival, it has a certain rawness and innocence that sounds truly refreshing today. On the other hand, the recording quality is not always the greatest, and sometimes the trebles on the cruitchorda-dominated tracks (basically an electric harpsichord) get shrill enough to bring on a headache. Still, many of the songs on Triona are quite beautiful, and Triona’s voice is gloriously pure and strong throughout, so I’m very happy to see this album released on CD.
Some of the songs showcase Triona’s lovely unaccompanied voice rippling through like a pure mountain stream, such as “Na Gamhna Geala” (which I’m pretty sure means “The White Calf,” although the liner notes don’t provide any translations for this or the other three songs sung in Gaelic). On other tracks, Triona leads duets with her sister Maighread, such as the jaunty “Stor a Stor a Ghra.” There are also a couple of instrumentals, including a lovely version of “O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music” that Triona plays solo on the cruitchorda.
The real attractions here, though, are Triona’s haunting renditions of traditional Irish ballads, mostly dark and moody. “Turlough Og (O’Boyle)” tells the sad tale of the cowardly murder of the brave title hero by the father of his lover, who kills herself when she learns O’Boyle is dead. Or “Here’s to All True Lovers,” about a lad who kills himself when his love’s parents refuse to let him marry her. Not exactly pick-me-uppers, but solid Irish, through and through.
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